Wonder and Whimsy

I have Discovered Bento Boxes, and It Is Pretty Exciting

This post is about Bento Boxes. But first I need to tell you something about teaching.

I have been a teacher or professor my entire working career. There are many challenging things about being an educator.

Engaging students is challenging.

Planning meaningful lessons is challenging.

Maintaining an orderly classroom is challenging.

Grading in a fair and thoughtful manner is challenging.

Working constructively with colleagues can be challenging.

In reading this list of challenges, I doubt anyone is very surprised by them. These all seem like predictable challenges that come with the territory of being an educator. I certainly anticipated these challenges when I entered the teaching profession.

But there was one challenge of being an educator that I did not anticipate: How hard it would be to figure out what to carry my lunch in to school every day.

It is not as easy as it sounds.

I eat a lot of snacks. And that works fine when I am at home. But when I am at work all day, it is difficult to fine a container that will hold all of the various containers I need so that I can have enough food without it leaking or getting smashed.

It is also really challenging finding a lunch container that will allow me to bring items that can be eaten at room temperature, as well as those that must be microwaved.

I have tried a lot of different lunch carrying containers or bags over the years.

I have tried regular lunch boxes or bags. These are usually too small or they do not allow me to carry my lunch in a safe and leak-proof manner.

For quite a few years when I was riding the bus downtown to grad classes and taking my lunch with me, I took my lunch in a picnic basket. I’ll admit, it did look a bit precious (read: pretentious), but it was sturdy; easy to transport on the bus; and it held a lot of different food containers or bags.

My Lovely Lady Lunch (that is what John called it).

And my lunch basket system worked really well for many years.  When I changed my job, however, and my routine changed as well, my lunch basket suddenly became unwieldy and was not working for me anymore. I needed a new lunch transportation system.

And luckily for me, I discovered the Bento Box.

Bento Boxes are very common lunch containers in Asian countries, and I had heard about them before, but I hadn’t tried them.

And then one day I was toodling around Target, and I ran across some Bento Boxes on a discount table. Inspiration struck!

This, I thought, was the solution to my lunch transportation dilemma.

I love this Bento box. It is a double-decker Bento Box, and (as you can see) has removable tray and containers that allow you to bring a variety of foods.

I really like this Bento Box–I actually have two of them (a blue one and a green one), and sometimes on long days, I will take both Bento Boxes, one packed more with breakfast food and one packed more with lunch food.

The one drawback of this Bento Box is that it is not-microwave safe. It is also a bit of a hassle to clean.

This made me want to experiment with different kinds of Bento Boxes, as there are many different kinds. Here is one I purchased recently:

I love this Bento Box. It is small and compact but is three-tiered and has a lot of carrying space. It comes in a cute bag and also comes with silverware that fits on the top tier. And if you look at the spoon carefully, you will notice that the bottom of it is a knife. So, I have a spoon, knife, and fork with the box. (You can find this Bento Box here.)

Another feature I like is that the bottom tier has a lid so that you can warm that tier up in the microwave. Here is the food in my Bento Box:

Bottom tier (with lid): Leftover corn dog bites from the other night.
Middle tier: Salad with pork, parmesan cheese, radishes, and lemon juice.
Top tier (with movable divider): Squash cranberry muffins, cheese, and chocolate.

Almost all of the food in my Bento Box today is leftover from other meals. The way this Bento Box is set-up makes it really easy to incorporate a variety of leftovers from meals as snacks or main dishes.

The only thing that is missing from this Bento Box is a way to carry soup. I don’t know if there are any Bento Boxes out there that have soup containers. I haven’t seen any, but I will keep looking. In the meantime, I am excited about experimenting with different lunches in this Bento Box.

What about you? Do you like Bento Boxes? What kind is your favorite? What kind of food do you like to take in them?

This selfie is just here to say “hi” and also because I like my head scarf.


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