My Bento Box Starter Kit

Monday February 1, 2016

As soon as Bean started preschool, my mind was blown by how superior her lunch box options were to mine as a kid.

We likely have Japan to thank, turning packaged lunch into works of bento box art. Now, nothing I come up with is pinterest-worthy. No sandwiches come out of my kitchen shaped like panda bears (YET). No staged scenes or silly faces, no ham florettes.

The reason I love them is that this little starter kit lulled me into making her healthier lunches. It is a case of form following function.

On Bean’s first day of preschool, I looked down at the three-part bento box and saw I could stack two sandwich squares in one part. I eyed the small condiment containers and wondered if I had anything to put in them…hummus? What goes with hummus…some carrots? Ok, that’s two of the squares. Now for the bottom part…maybe some sliced apples? And maybe some trail mix in the silicone cups?

And that is how I went from packing her simply a peanut butter sandwich with banana every day, to packing her a lunch box with vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and grains. When she opens it, I can see her eyes pop out at the assortment of foods. Even though it’s basically just stuff scrounged up from my pantry and refrigerator. But, it’s more interesting, it’s healthier, and it’s also more likely to get eaten.

I’m using this for a toddler lunch, but I could see this same technique working equally well for an adult lunch. The bento box makes you rethink what is possible in a lunch box.


Here is my starter kit. If she ever gets into bento boxes, I might stray into the plastic figurines and shape molds. For now, this is utilitarian and also easy to clean.



From the top:

1. LunchBots Trio Stainless Steel Snack Container

This is the perfect size for preschoolers. If buying for yourself, LunchBots sells adult-sized ones as well.


2. Silicone Food Cups

These squish perfectly into any nook in your bento box, making sure you use up all space available. Perfect for a tiny handful of blueberries, raisins, trail mix, etc.


3. LunchBots Round Stainless Steel Leak Proof Containers

They really are leak proof. I’ve put everything in these — rice milk, vegan yogurt, butter, baby food, chili, soup — and thrown them straight into my bag. I’ve never had them leak.


4. LunchBots Tiny Leak Proof Condiment Containers

For preschoolers, these are great for cream cheese, dip, guacamole, salsa, and hummus. For an adult, it’d more likely be for dressing or condiments. They are small little powerhorses, and also actually leak proof. They nestle perfectly into bento boxes, with plenty of room around them for vegetables for dipping.


5. Bento Box Bag

I’ve opted for a small cloth drawstring bag over a more official lunch bag (lunch bags/boxes these days seem to take up all the pace in backpacks). This is a small compact bag that will make sure your bento box doesn’t spring open in a backpack, and it’s also handy for storing silverware if you need it for lunch. I love this whole series by SORAbento.


Do you have any favorite bento box supplies? Let me know if I’m missing anything!


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