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Posted on Apr 30, 2007 | 20 comments

Opinionated guide to lunch gear & cookbooks

A couple of weeks ago I started putting together a blog entry on commonly available containers doing double duty as bento boxes or sauce containers, but the list of products quickly grew extremely long and difficult to organize. Instead of putting all of the information into a normal entry, I’ve created the Lunch in a Box Amazon aStore with opinionated notes on the products, suggested cheaper alternatives or stores, and references to equipment reviews from respected sources like Cook’s Illustrated magazine (accepts no advertising).

I’d like to emphasize that you do not need a lot of fancy, expensive equipment to pack your own lunch!!! But if you’re looking for something in particular, these links may give you ideas or point to low-cost alternatives that you can purchase locally. If you will be buying from Amazon.com anyway, using these links to get to Amazon will help support Lunch in a Box, even if you wind up purchasing different products. Orders are fulfilled by Amazon. Thank you!

Lunch containers (Tupperware, thermal lunch jars, non-plastic containers, containers with built-in ice packs, etc.)

Lunch bags & ice packs
Drink containers
Condiment containers
Packing accessories
Utensils & napkins

Kitchen equipment (mini pans/pots, reasonable rice cookers, fish roaster, toaster oven, etc.)

Speedy prep tools
Shaping & decorating

Cookbooks

Japanese
My favorites
For kids
Food reference

Magazines

Grocery

Japanese
Other international (under construction)

Picnic gear (under construction)

Feel free to comment with any ingenious products or how-to’s you’ve stumbled upon that you’d like to share with readers. I’ll continue to add and delete products accordingly.

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20 Comments

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  1. Bows to the kitchen guru.

    I think you should be Iron Chef, Japanese!!!!

    Your site is doing very well.
    :-)

  2. I’ve been stealing my son’s Sassy Lunch on the Go box lately! Just the right size….and the right price!

  3. Oho Oho! And there’s the Light My Fire…combo spoon, fork and knife! I haven’t gotten one of these yet, but the next time I hit REI, I’m going to grab a handful!

  4. Oh these are awesome!

  5. Added. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Added. Thanks for the tip!

  7. :-)

    There will be no rejecting of compliments on my shift :-D

    Honestly, I love what you do and keep an eye, always. So many wonderful ideas and great bento.

  8. That is an awesome box!!!

  9. Hi Jan! I absolutely do know of non-plastic containers (aluminum bento boxes, wood boxes, using bamboo leaves to carry onigiri, etc.) — I’ll put together some links and put them here shortly.

  10. For some reason LJ won’t let me reply to a reply… maybe because I don’t have an LJ or because I’m on a Mac… anyway,

    I love the Tiffins! I’d never heard of them before. And I like the To-Go Ware lunchbox too. Steel doesn’t lend itself to pretty colors like aluminum does but for now I’ll settle for functional rather than flashy.

    thanks!

    ~jan

  11. Welcome! If you click on the “Search J-List” box in the bottom left corner of my blog, and type in “aluminum bento” it’ll come up with two Totoro aluminum bento boxes that I described in detail in a reply to Jan below. Seals aren’t secure at all, but can be warmed in a big special warmer that Japanese preschools have going during cold weather.

  12. I’ve checked out the J-List ones before haven’t ordered one yet. I don’t mind that they don’t seal completely as my regular bento doesn’t either and I don’t tend to carry sloshy things.

    I do have a Sigg aluminum box, which does seal up nicely (on Amazon it’s at:

    http://www.amazon.com/Switzerland-Aluminum-Available-Sizes-Colors/dp/B000HYHBP6/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-7585571-2995857?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1178204022&sr=8-1

    but there are no dividers. The To-Go Ware and the Tiffin solve that problem, and because they are steel they can be put on the stove to reheat.

    I’m very happy about all my new choices! Thanks so much!

    ~jan

  13. I love your tips and pics! I just got my first bento box in the mail and can’t wait to start packing it. Thanks so much for all the healthy ideas!

  14. My pleasure! You might also want to check out the Flickr lunch groups linked on the left-hand column of my page (Bento Boxes, Kid Eats, Laptop Lunches, Mr. Bento Porn, Lunchbox Recipes) — there’s a lot out there to give you ideas. Enjoy!

  15. Ooh, I really like those little glass containers! I’d seen something similar from Lock & Lock at a local Korean market, but hadn’t noticed them at a mainstream store before. Excellent tip! BTW, I also have the Thermos Nissan JLN1400X — it’s great.

  16. Walmart has an 800 ml container in their MainStays line that’s been fairly effective for me. On top of having several of these, I’m slowly collecting things, from Wally world and other stores, so I’ll eventually be able to go for broke with a proper Japanese bento, some day…..

  17. @21 from Jese:
    Good tip on the 800ml container from Walmart! If you poke around stores with your eyes open, there’s so much that can be used (or repurposed) for bento-type lunches.

  18. Love your site, love Bento boxs (or in theory cause I’ve yet to try it). Do you have the dimensions or volume size of the Sassy Baby Mealtime On the Go Feeding Set? I’m wondering if it will be big enough for my Pre-K son.

  19. I love your site. I have just discovered Bento, and have gone crazy over it. Your site is very informational. Thanks.