Monday, October 24, 2005

Oh, bento!

bento thumb.jpgAs someone who prefers to eat small amounts of several foods at any meal possible, I love bentos -- looking at them, eating them, thinking about them...and I have often thought about how much I would love to make them when Emily goes to school someday. (Of course, I doubt I'll have the time and patience to make fancy anime bentos like these!) But the idea of sending her off every day with a lunch that's attractive, fun and well-balanced really appeals to me.

My only hesitation was that it might be too strange for an American kid to take to school. As I read here, the experiences of kids taking bentos to US schools has been mixed. But then, I discovered the waste-free lunch movement, and the accompanying Laptop Lunch Box, and I started thinking that maybe it wasn't such a weird idea after all. With bento-like lunch containers coming out here, by the time it's an issue I think it just might seem normal!

And then yesterday I came across the Vegan Lunch Box, which documents the (vegan, obviously) lunches packed every day by a mom in WA using the Laptop system. Great ideas, feedback on how the system works (and doesn't -- more lids are needed, I agree), examples of bento-style lunches of (mostly) Western recipes, and some idea of how well it goes over in her son's 1st grade class (very well, apparently). I'll be keeping an eye on this one and taking notes!

So, looks like Emily will get bentos and I get to have fun in, well, another 5 years or so!

More resources: fantastic bento photo blog from Mizuko Ito (this a great companion to the Vegan Lunch Box blog); flickr bento box group (drool!); Cafe Japan, which I have; Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals on the Go, which is on my wishlist; and if the Laptop system doesn't work for you, there's also the Zojirushi "Mr. Bento" lunch set and Zojirushi "Ms. Bento" lunch set.


  1. I think it will be awesome if you make Bento Boxes!
    I used to love looking at all the different lunches, the parents would pack, when I was a preschool teacher.
    My favorite lunch was this kid who brought a variety of food in little tupperware containers. A small amount of berries, some yogurt covered pretzels, etc. I forgot what type of protein he brought.
    But instead of having some unappetizing "healthy" food and some horribly obnoxious unhealthy dessert, everything he brought was a little healthy, but also a treat.
    I don't think you should worry about kids teasing Emily. No matter what kids are going to be teased. About something. If not her fancy Japanese lunch, than it will be something else. I think most kids will be jealous and make their parents pack them Bento Boxes too.

  2. I have one of those Zojirushi Mr. Bento boxes. I bought it with no clue about the bento idea - just wanted to try a new lunchbox.
    It works really well - better than the various bags or boxes I had tried before.

  3. Dina -- thanks! It's true, if kids want to tease her, they will. I was thinking she might refuse to eat a "weird" lunch but hopefully she wouldn't cave to teasing anyway! It must have been cool to see all the lunches -- I'd love to see a site of nothing but photos of different lunches. (Kind of like that flickr group!)
    Justin - thanks for the info! I was thinking that one looked really cool. Of course, right now we have no use for anything like that, but when Em is older and we start taking her to parks and things, I think I'll have a good excuse to bring Mr and Ms Bento into the house!


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