Friday, January 23, 2009

Bentō

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.

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21 Comments:

At 23 January, 2009, Blogger Jay said...

I had never even heard of Bento before your post. I live in a culture free zone here. LOL

Amazon has Bento Boxes too. They are kind of high. And I don't think my triple cheeseburger and super-sized fries will fit in those things. ;-)

I'm going to check out each of those links. I'll be hanging out here for a while I'm doing that. So, if you look at your site meter and see me here for like an hour, don't be concerned. Hell, I'll even bring my own beer. haha

 
At 23 January, 2009, Blogger Mary said...

I want to get the laptop lunch box for Clara. But since she gets a sandwich almost daily, it wouldn't work.

I should aspire to get one for myself, and eat better. So your good habits need to rub off on me.

Hmm. sounds dirty...

 
At 23 January, 2009, Blogger Jen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 23 January, 2009, Blogger meno said...

I just learned how to roll those spring rolls, and i have been rolling everything in sight into them. They make an awesome lunch.

 
At 23 January, 2009, Blogger Gramps said...

Is there a special bento thermos to keep your beer cold?

 
At 23 January, 2009, Blogger fiwa said...

Oh, that wasn't too bad, I only saw 50 or so I'd like to have. ;)

Le bebe bunny - I mean, come on. Who can resist le bebe bunny?

 
At 23 January, 2009, Blogger Woman in a Window said...

Now yer talking my kinda Tupperware, baby. That's almost sex talk around here.

 
At 23 January, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

Hmm, I have a spiffy divided bentoish lunch thingy that I bought recently... might be time to pull it out!

 
At 23 January, 2009, Blogger Jen said...

I've always coveted a Bento box! I think I'm far too lazy to make all the food that goes into it.

 
At 23 January, 2009, OpenID kcinnova said...

Look at how cultured you are making us! Woot!
If I could actually fit my meals into a Bento box, I'd probably be about 10 sizes smaller than I am now.
Maybe that is a good plan??

 
At 24 January, 2009, Blogger Reb said...

I have a lovely lacquered box, now I am wondering if it is a Bento box. Probably not, just a pretty box. It never had any seals or compartments.

Some of those sites are wonderful. Thanks for all the links.

 
At 24 January, 2009, Blogger Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

and Hoop makes cute little dophin sandwiches????? waaaay cool

 
At 24 January, 2009, Blogger Knot said...

The therapist in me wants to examine and tell you why you like these so much.

The human in me is just marveling that

1. There's a whole industry dedicated to making stuff like this.

2. There's a whole Flickr group for it.

Amazing ...

 
At 24 January, 2009, Blogger Knot said...

Oh ya, you could just save old microwave meal dishes and use those. No?

Knot

 
At 24 January, 2009, Blogger Gin said...

That is so artsy!! Therefore, I love it! But some of those lunches are so pretty it would be hard to eat them!! It sure would pep up the lunch hour tho...much more than just plain old soup. I love this...I learned something new.

 
At 24 January, 2009, Blogger moo said...

Totally appropos of nothing ...

PK told me about this other art site (he had NEVER HEARD of ETSY ... WTF INDEED) so I thought I'd pass it along to you in case you were interested in checking it out ...

http://www.deviantart.com/#

 
At 25 January, 2009, Blogger HalfAsstic.com said...

I am FASCINATED by this. And speaking as someone who has just recently made a commitment to eat more raw vegetables and fruit AS WELL AS help her gorgeous daughters lose weight, (since they have packed on some poundage lately), I am going to make good use of all this info.
I am off to click around! Thanks, Tink

 
At 26 January, 2009, Blogger mamatulip said...

I'm really intrigued by this. I think I could have a lot of fun making lunches this way. I've just spent a ton of time on the Just Bento site...

 
At 26 January, 2009, Anonymous apathy lounge said...

I remember when my sister first introduced me to Bento boxes. They're so cunning! If only I liked sushi!

 
At 27 January, 2009, Blogger the planet of janet said...

wow. who knew?

 
At 27 January, 2009, Blogger Pikko said...

Hey Tink,

Thanks for the comment on my blog and for the link! I'll definitely stop by now and then to catch up on your bentos! ^_^

Pikko

 

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