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Posted on Jun 4, 2007 | 37 comments

Speed tip: Pre-fill sauce containers

Speed tip: Pre-fill sauce containers

Pre-filled sauce containers for speed

Pre-filling sauce containers with your most commonly used sauces saves time when you’re packing lunch. I keep shelf-stable sauces (like Tabasco, soy sauce, tonkatsu sauce, Lizano sauce and Worcestershire sauce) in a magnetic spice tin on the kitchen wall for easy access when I’m packing lunch (see photo below). Perishable sauces (like salad dressings, sanbaizu, and dumpling dipping sauce) go in little containers in the refrigerator. That way I can just grab one and quickly throw it into the bento box or lunch bag, instead of taking the time in the morning to fill just one for each individual lunch. I started doing this during our nine months of gluten-free eating (my husband had been misdiagnosed with celiac disease), to be able to throw little plastic fish full of gluten-free soy sauce into my husband’s work bag in case he picked up sushi. Some of the containers (like the little pig above) are labelled with the kind of sauce they contain. (To fill containers like these, squeeze the container, submerge the mouth into a small dish of sauce and release. Repeat until enough sauce has been sucked into the container — no need for a funnel.)

Lunch accessories organized #2

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  1. I just got some little sauce containers from Japan and I was wondering how you fill them – they’re so tiny! I was thinking a funnel or something, but just want to make sure I’m not missing an obvious, easy solution. Thanks

  2. Do you still cook a lunch bento for your husband to take with him?
    My simple solution to the sauce containers, if Biggie doesn’t mind, is compressing them while submersing the tip of the sauce container in the sauce of choice and release the hold. The container will fill. Continue until filled up enough.

  3. Ahh, just the simple solution I was looking for. Thanks!

  4. Jessica, I absolutely don’t mind!! Everyone should definitely feel free to chime in with their own solutions and ideas — I don’t have a monopoly on answers. Also, I don’t pack my husband a lunch anymore because now he works from home. No more need.

  5. obvious idea, but i missed it somehow…. O.O
    then again, i don’t use sauces much, but this is nifty to keep in mind!

  6. They actually sell pre-filled soy fishies at my favorite Japanese grocery ^_^;;

  7. Kaoko> That’d be convenient! How’s the price?

  8. I don’t remember but it was too big a bag. Around a 100 soy fishies each. I don’t think I’ll ever need that much. ^_^;;

  9. Kaoko> Ah, meant for restaurant supply then. Got it!

  10. I sauce containers for sale on the internet and some of them come with a little dropper/syringe to fill them. Perhaps an old medicine dropper might work too?

  11. Jenny> I do have some little Anpanman ones that came with a little dropper/syringe (bladder?) to fill them. This is because they’re made of a harder plastic than the more flexible containers pictured above, and you can’t squeeze them as effectively to get the liquid inside — it’s more effective to use the bladder. The fill bladder is actually pretty convenient, as I can stick it deep inside the neck of the original bottle (of soy sauce, etc.) to fill it instead of dirtying an additional bowl for the whole process. The neck of the fill bladder is skinny and long, so you can then put it deep inside of the tiny sauce container and fill it all in one go (also more effective than an old medicine dropper, unless it’s SUPER tiny).

    P.S. Actually, you can see the fill bladder I’m talking about in the second photo in this post. It’s in the second container from the bottom (on the wall) — click it for a larger view in the other post.

  12. It is hard – well, almost impossible – to fill hard sauce containers/bottles with my method, such as tonkatsu sauce. I have these bottles with a more wide opening that you can drip the sauce into. They do have this slightly glass-bottle Heinz-ketchup effect. The bottles I use are made by Nalgene. You can find Nalgene online in online adventure/hinking shops and similar IRL shops. They are hard plastic, wide lids/openings. No leakage. Can be used for make-up etc., during travelling and other storage for small things and in bentos :). They are sold in sets so you get a variety of bottles and see through jars.

  13. I broke the little plastic pipet which came with my strawberry sauce containers and since they’re stiffer than the little plastic fishies, I have a hard time refilling them. I’m thinking of getting a small plastic syringe to refill but haven’t found one small enough yet (no time to visit the drugstore). Will report results if it works :D

  14. I just bought little fishy ones on ebay, and I was wondering what was the best way to clean them? Do you just suck in water and repeat until it looks clean? Or are these one-time-use only? O_o

    Thanks so much!

  15. Exactly, Christine. Suck in hot, soapy water and shake it up — repeat until clean. To rinse, do the same thing with hot, clean water. Some people also designate certain containers to hold only one type of sauce (i.e. the hot sauce container, the salad dressing container, the soy sauce container).

  16. Glad to help, aJ! Thanks for the kind words…

  17. Lizano sauceee!!! I’m costarican and I consume sooooo much of this didn’t know it was known or sold online !

  18. @18 from natalia: Pura vida, baby! I love Lizano sauce…

  19. i was wondering where i can buy the fish shaped cointainers , i need a huge amount , since im a sushi restaurant..does anyone know where i can buy from japan or china?

  20. @20 from fahd: I’m sorry, I don’t buy in that level of bulk so I’m no help to you. Good luck in locating a source!

  21. I’ve read all the comments, but I didn’t see anything. Where do you get the little bottles like this? I’ve seen these types, little bottles shaped like elephants and other animals, and I’ve looked everywhere for them, but I haven’t found any. Sorry if someone’s already asked/been answered this question.

  22. @22 from flak: If you look on my Shop page at http://lunchinabox.net/shop you’ll find links to stores that stock these (esp. JList, Sugarcharms, BentoTV, and most of the online stores listed in the LJ Bentolunch community’s online shopping guide).

  23. @22 from flak: I’m sorry, I think I didn’t read your question closely enough. Are you looking for the plain sauce containers, the little bottles, or the ones shaped like little animals?

  24. Biggie: I’m just looking for the little bottles, animal-shaped or not (though preferred).

  25. Love your Blog!

    I just recently started packing lunch for my husband, who eats like a kid… so the food art and packing ideas really help to make the healthy food more attractive when it arrives at his desk. (but you know that already) He actually ate the carrot sticks & grape tomatoes I packed for him yesterday! Thanks again.

    One idea for condiment containers… for those of us not blessed with a Japanese Dollar store in our town… Old 35mm or advantix film canisters are watertight, and usually light-proof… and make excellent condiment containers. Advantix film containers are more oval & easier to get a spoon or fork into, but both work well. I’ve used them for years to hold spices when backpacking, or just 2 Tbs of salad dressing for lunch.

    With everything going to digital photography, these will get harder to find, but check out your local developer… they might have a practice of throwing them out… As long as my mother is alive, someone out there will be using film.

  26. This is not my original idea-I got it from freakintastybento.com, I went to the dollar store here in good ol’ Michigan and got a pack of those little plastic fruits filled with some kind of candy powder. I dumped out the candy (yuck) and rinsed out the plastic fruits. They are so cute and bright in a bento, and just the right size for sauces or dressing. They came in a pack of 8 I think.

  27. @27 from Amy: I used film canisters once or twice before I got other sauce containers, but the only thing that gives me pause is that I don’t know if the plastic they’re made of is food-safe or not. Otherwise, it’s a great idea!

  28. @28 from Sandi: I’ve got a pack of those that I used a couple of years ago for just the same thing! It’s a great idea, and because they previously held food you know the plastic they use is food-safe. :-)

  29. have used these ok and also these
    http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?CATID=253&PRODID=10018277

    http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?CATID=253&PRODID=10018115

    they also have perfume funnels that can help fill the sauce containers if squishing doesn’t wokr for you

    also they have small glass vials
    http://containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?searchId=14161814&itemIndex=1&CATID=74064&PRODID=69231

    not as cute as the plastic bento specific ones but ok if you can’t find anything else

  30. How do you keep trace of what is in which container? Have you find a useful way of labelling or do you just use separate shelves/boxes? I’ve thought of writing with a removable pen, but I’m afraid it might damage the plastic…

  31. @33 from Darina: I usually put only one kind of sauce in one kind of container, for example soy sauce in the little fish, gyoza dipping sauce in the rectangles, etc.

  32. I know this post is really old but… you don’t know how much I was wondering how to fill this!!! I caved in and ordered some, but now that I have them I couldn’t figure out a quick way to fill them. It came with a cute pipette but it hardly looks effective or easy to clean at all. Thank you so much! haha :)

  33. hi, i was wondering if you knew where i could purchase these sorts of small containers? i would need a website that ships.
    much thanks, emma :)

  34. My first thought to filling tiny opening bottles or vials is to use a marinade injector/syringe .. easier to clean than a bladder pipette, for me.

  35. To fill my sauce bottles (Just got new ones, they match my new picks!) I put the sauce into a plastic bag with the tip cut off. This works especially well with thicker sauces, like barbeque, which I eat a lot, especially on my chicken. I even fill onigiri with barbeque pulled chicken.

  36. Has anyone used pipettes to fill these? 1mL is pretty small, and pipettes go smaller still! 3 packs are only like 2 dollars, as well.