I don't know exactly how it started. Maybe it was just one of those random things, like a purchase suggestion from Amazon. "We see you like to buy books on Mythology. Maybe you would like to purchase this 'Invisible Pink Unicorn Lapel Pin' too?" My interest quickly escalated from admiring Bento photos on Flickr, to actually aspiring to make some of my own. I don't mean the fancy Bentos either (kyaraben), which are elaborately designed to look like people and scenery. I just wanted to make healthy, pretty lunches. Something other than the same boring soup I was eating every day.
Bento (ben-toh; Japn. ben-taw)
–noun, plural. a meal, usually served in a lacquered or elaborately decorated box that is divided into sections for holding individual portions of food. Also called Obento.
Tink's Holy Grail of Bento/Lunch Box Sites:
Vegan Lunch Box- Jennifer also has a book out. Although neither Hoop nor I are vegetarians, I found the suggestions and recipes on her site (and in her book) very resourceful.
Adventures In Bento Making- Not only does Pikko have beautiful pictures and posts that make even a noob like me feel like I can do something cool with food, she hosts contests every 100 posts for free Bento items!
Anna The Red's Bento Factory- Scary-good kyaraben that almost looks too cool to eat.
Just Bento- Mouth watering recipes and free downloadable spreadsheets for easy lunch planning. Check out the "Bento Basics" section for how-to-start tips.
My Bento Diet- Healthy recipes for American bento meals.
Lunch In A Box- Although not updated very often, this site has proven to be a wealth of information. It has guides on everything from how to clean lunch gear, to what size bento box you should buy.
Where To Buy Bento Supplies:
Ichiban Kan- Super cheap Japanese supplies.
Sugar Charms- This is where I purchased the Bento box featured on Wednesday's post. But be warned, traditional Bento boxes are shockingly small. Remember, the Japanese eat mostly rice, meat and vegetables. Trying to fit traditional American food, like a sandwich, in one of these boxes will NOT work.
JBOX- The authority on Asian goods. Check daily for updates.
I Love Obento!- Pricey, but home to some hard-to-find items.
Don't forget to check any local Asian markets you might have before paying to ship something from one of these sites. I've heard that Ebay has some good shops too. I would also like to mention that expensive import boxes are not required to make Bento. Hoop and I found divided Tupperware at Target for $6! Rubber cupcake holders, found at any kitchen supply store, make good dividers as well. If you think creatively enough, supplies can be found all around you.