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Posted on Oct 13, 2007 | 13 comments

Weird Pokemon lunch bag cloth

Weird Pokemon lunch bag cloth

When I was shopping at Ichiban Kan in San Francisco the other week, I stumbled across a strange Pokemon lunch bag that I initially thought was an ordinary lunch cloth (like a cloth napkin or furoshiki wrapping cloth). When I got it home, however, I discovered that it was actually a weird cross between a wrapping cloth and a lunch bag.

Lunch cloth bag

Lunch cloth bag

The bottom and sides are sewn together so that you can just drop in a bento box and any other lunch gear, then simply knot the top to close it securely (similar to the Otsukai Tsutsumi illustrated in this cool wrapping chart). I’ve used furoshiki, cloth napkins, and dish towels to tie flimsy bento lunches together and throw into a backpack before, but I can see this being a fun way to ease a child into lunch wrapping without a lot of skill involved. I’d seen a similar Shinkansen-themed lunch bag on Amazon before, but it hadn’t really sunk in that this was how it was supposed to be used — now I get it! Ingenious. (Click on any of the photos for a larger view.)

Lunch cloth bag (full)

Here I put Bug’s two-tier pasta lunch inside (shown below), along with a fork, cloth napkin, and damp oshibori hand towel and case. It looks cool, but he went on strike when I asked him to practice opening it, and requested his new Cars lunch bag instead (“I can use just two fingers to open that one!”). We’ll practice some more before I send him to preschool with it so I can be sure he can open it by himself, but it’s hard to compete with Cars!

Radiatore lunch

Contents of Wednesday preschooler lunch: Radiator-shaped radiatore pasta with leftover slow-cooked salmon (salmon recipe here) mixed with tomato-based sauce and sauteed onions with bell peppers. The fruit tier holds gold kiwifruit, tangerine slice and a strawberry.

Morning prep time: 4 minutes, using leftover pasta. The night before, I packed the pasta tier when cleaning up from dinner. So in the morning I just cut the kiwi, cut another wedge off the rapidly shrinking tangerine from the fridge, and quickly microwaved the pasta to restore texture. Very simple lunch this day, nothing fancy.

Packing: Packed in two tiers (180ml and 100ml) of a 4-tier nesting and stacking Thomas the Tank Engine bento box set. I included a small Anpanman pick for the kiwi.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Bug ate everything at preschool except the kiwi, which he ate in the car afterwards.

Bagel sandwich lunch for preschooler

Contents of Thursday preschooler lunch: Half of a bagel sandwich with cream cheese, grapes, grape tomatoes, and a tiny Manzano banana (smaller and drier than a baby banana, with a slight apple flavor).

Morning prep time: 4 minutes

Packing: I started peeling the banana by cracking open the stem end to make it easier for Bug to peel himself. The interesting thing about this lunch is that I lined the child-sized Snoopy collapsible sandwich case with decorative aluminum foil to keep any cream cheese from escaping through the holes in the bottom or sides. Although I usually pack sandwiches directly in these kinds of ventilated sandwich cases without any kind of lining, my friend Mami (Japanese mother of one of Bug’s classmates) tells me that she always lines hers with colorful plastic wrap to keep things tidy and clean. Her theory is that Japanese-language bento cookbooks don’t often show photos of the plastic-wrap-lined boxes because it looks nicer without the wrap. What do you think?

Verdict: Bug ate the bagel sandwich and a couple of tomatoes at prechool, then ate the banana and remainder of the tomatoes in the car afterwards. For some reason the grapes were uninteresting to him, so I wound up eating those myself.

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  1. Cool, what a cute & convenient way to wrap a lunchbox. Might be good for wrapping presents too. How much are these?

  2. @1 from Macky: I think it was US$1 or $1.50 at Ichiban Kan, but I don’t recall the exact amount.

  3. Yummy lunches!
    About the lining: I don’t think that most of my lunches need any sort of lining in the bento boxes. I’m going to wash the box anyhow, and nothing ever gets out of the boxes while I’m carrying it (since I stopped using the cheap bento box where the lid didn’t fit right, that is!), so I don’t see the point in using it every day. It’s just one more thing to throw away, and I love bento because it’s so environmentally friendly- no paper lunch bag and plastic baggies to throw away, like when I was a kid!! Of course you save money, too, by not using a lining.

  4. @3 from Morgan: I don’t line any of my regular bento boxes either (and am not tempted to). The question for me now is specifically the ventilated, collapsible sandwich cases. I haven’t had much problem with them to date as I’ve been careful about what I pack, but the option of using a lining could increase the variety of foods I could pack (i.e. gooey sandwich fillings).

  5. Aha! Duh! Sorry I misunderstood- I don’t use the collapsible cases, so I just didn’t think of them at all! I still don’t think I’d line them, because most any gooeyness would be stopped at the bag holding the box, and I just hate using disposable stuff! But like I said, I haven’t used them, so there’s my still-uninformed opinion for you!
    (You’re a speedy responder!)

  6. I wish I’d known about the liners before I made gooey tuna-salad-messes in the kids’ boxes. ;) Never again, though – Thanks for the tip, Biggie!

  7. I love your site–constant inspiration for my daily lunch making. I feel like I now have a partner in this task and you make it not work , but an art. I wrote a little bit about your site for my daughter’s school (Greenwood Waldorf in Mill Valley) newsletter so I hope some of the parents are now reading your site too.
    Thanks for the salmon recipe–I’m going to give that a try this week.

  8. @6 from oh_mom: Yes, it would let us pack more messy food, wouldn’t it? Not sure why it didn’t occur to me before.

  9. @7 from Tracy: Hey, you’re local! Hi to the Mill Valley folks! I hope they see the SF local shopping guides, especially the one for bento gear — they can save a lot of money on gear by going to Daiso and Ichiban Kan.

  10. I love that type of lunch box wrap. I have a pattern if you are at all interested in making your own (although it’s probably easy to extrapolate a pattern from the one you already have). You can email me if you’d like a scan of the pattern. :)

  11. @10 form hillary: Cool, could I ask you to shoot me a scan of the pattern? I’m not terribly crafty (sew-y?), but you never know when a pattern might come in handy.

  12. I made my first visit to Ichiban Kan today. It was so awesome! I could have easily gone overboard and bought way more than I needed. It was great to see some of the stuff you write about in real life. I picked up a few things to spruce up the kitchen and my husband’s lunches.

  13. @12 from Stephanie: I’m so glad you made it to Ichiban Kan — such interesting stuff! I like your ceramic Grendel, too (shown on your blog). :-)