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Posted on Aug 6, 2008 | 19 comments

New Bento FAQ

New Bento FAQ

Somehow I’ve managed to slide by this long without writing a FAQ (frequently asked questions document), but as bento-style lunches become more popular I see a lot of new folks with questions like the ones below. So I finally wrote a full bento FAQ page here to answer them; please have a look to let me know if I’ve missed anything major and I’ll add it!

THE BASICS Guide to packing a bento lunch

OKAY, I’M IN! Got Bento?

19 Comments

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  1. I came across your site last night — INCREDIBLE! I recently took my first trip to Japan and was thrilled to find all sorts of neat (and inexpensive!) bento box goodies at the 100 Yen store. I brought some home for my little ones, and now it’s just been a matter of figuring out what to put in them. Thanks to you, I’m on my way! Thank you so much for your fabulous site!

  2. Looks nice. Maybe the how to pack a bento and fill in the gaps?

    I am really strange on the food art. I don’t have time for it – I’ll eat it soon anyway – cake decorating though. Now THAT’S something… :)
    In terms of food art — hand me the furikake please (artsy foliages in it of parts of the greeny spices).

  3. This is awesome~ I’ve always linked to random spots on your site (where information was, but not altogether in one spot) but now I can link straight to this. Thanks so much!!!

  4. Oh just saw the “are there packing rules and how do you pack a bento lunch”.

    It’s awesome how you’ve put it together. Not boring at all. I often jump in and comment, do you mind that? I mean it is your blogg and you do an excellent job with it. Just to clarify for myself.

  5. @1 from qwanty: Welcome to the site, qwanty! Sounds like this FAQ post was perfect timing for you, then. :-) Where did you go in Japan?

  6. @3 from Yvo: Glad you think it’ll be useful — it’s something I’ve been putting off forever, but finally bit the bullet after seeing so many new folks bring up the same questions.

  7. @2/4 from Jessika: I think I’ll continue to tweak it in the next weeks as people weigh in with feedback and I figure out the HTML coding for the jumps. I’d also like to add a few small photos to make it a little more visually interesting.

    On the comments, I always look forward to reading your thoughtful, considered comments, Jessika. I usually wind up learning something or looking at an issue from a different perspective — invaluable. Makes me very grateful to be writing on a blog platform where I can have a conversation with people!

  8. I’m a recent convert, and this post is a big help. My packing question is about how to get the bento or box into a tote bag or backpack. While flat seems preferable, I think it would have to go in sideways in certain types of bags to take to work or school. Any recommendations would help. Also, is anyone using a lunchbox as well? What kind or shape?

  9. @10 from skimmer8: It’s dangerous to go out on a limb and make predictions, but I think there’s going to be an even greater surge of interest in bento-style lunches this fall judging from the number of mainstream media inquiries I’ve been receiving lately. A number of back-to-school lunch-packing articles are in the works…

  10. @11 from Noel: Glad to hear the FAQ is useful to you, Noel. There are a few ways to go about tackling the horizontal vs. vertical box-carrying dilemma. One way would be to use a skinny, two-tier box so that it can stay horizontal inside a regular tall lunchbox, briefcase or messenger bag. This is what I do so that Bug can get some use out of the cool insulated lunchboxes that he was given as gifts (normal ones, like from Target or Walmart).

    Another way would be to get one of those insulated lunch bags that has two compartments: a wide, flat, insulated bottom compartment with zipper, and a top, pointed compartment with a flap (also spied at Target). A small-to-medium sized one-tier bento box fits nicely in the bottom compartment horizontally.

    The third way is to resign yourself to the fact that your single-tier bento box or Laptop Lunchbox is going to be turned on its side and jammed unceremoniously into a bag. My husband totally did this every time I gave him a bento lunch when he was misdiagnosed with celiac disease. I started having him take cameraphone photos of what the lunch looked like when he opened the lid to see what survived and what experienced a “foodslide”. I was able to figure out that I got best results when I packed food VERY compactly without gaps, used a container with a secure/watertight lid, and minimized the inclusion of any moist/wet foods in the bento. I realize now that another work-around would be to put any moist/wet foods inside of the disposable lidded condiment cups (i.e. Solo brand ones that you see jello shots in) in the bento box. It’s like wearing a belt with suspenders: extra insurance. Hope this helps!

  11. Wargh! Bento-posts attack! =D I love you Biggie. Will you marry me?

    I like all the ideas here and I’m thankful that you’ve come up with this very neat post. I’ve been perusing your site HEAVILY. With this I can quickly look things up.

    I don’t have kids, but I do pack lunches for my boyfriend. He works in constructions so his lunch is the most vital meal of the day. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for all the ideas in you’ve supplied here. It’s only after I read your blog that his lunchbox became varied and even more balanced.

    (I used to just pack him with sandwiches and fruits…how boring!).

    So thank you millions gazillion times!

  12. Hi Deb, This new FAQ of yours is fabulous! Gonna link you at my blog!

  13. @14 from Gloria: Glad to hear the site is helping with your boyfriend’s lunches — sounds like it’s important for him to keep his energy up at work, and it’d have to be portable and tasty!

  14. What a great set of explanations. Thank you!

  15. LOVE the FAQs page. Thanks Biggie! I am very new to bento and learn a lot from your blog. I look at leftovers very differently now. And your pantry reorganization was very inspiring. I’ll be back.

  16. @17 from Gudrun: I figure a proper bento FAQ is at least a year overdue from me — I should have written one when I moved the site to its own domain in 2007. Oh well, better late than never! Glad to hear some of the ideas are working for you. :-)

  17. @19 from CarrieK: Wait until you see the rest of the kitchen reorg photos — I went from disaster area to tidy workspace. Let’s see how long I can maintain the neatness, though!

  18. Marmite! And Guinness Marmite to boot! I love your site and am starting to get into bento — not many resources or much information here in the UK. And now you are hitting my English AND Irish roots — how the hell did you get Guinness Marmite? LOL!

  19. @22 from Elegant_Sniff: Ah, I got the Guinness Marmite from a reader in the U.K. with a personal stash. We did an exchange: I sent her cheap bento stuff from Daiso, and she sent me Guinness Marmite and Champagne Marmite. I really lucked out!!! The Guinness Marmite is my favorite of all three.