Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pink Saturday - Bento box

Pink Saturday - Beverly at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you!

Do you pack a lunch for work? In today's economy, everyone's trying to save money. It's cheaper to pack your lunch than it is to go out, and it's often healthier to bring food from home instead of eating at restaurants or fast food. I've been packing my lunch for a few months now, but it's not very glamorous carrying tupperware bins of leftovers in plastic shopping bags.

Recently,  I found some cute items to glam up my workday lunches, in L.A.'s Little Tokyo neighborhood.

In Japan, a "bento" is a box lunch, packed to take with you to school or to work. A "bento-bako" is the actual box that the lunch is packed in, and in Japan there is a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles of bento boxes.

There are elegant bento boxes made of lacquered wood painted in traditional designs, perfect for a professional woman's lunch. There are sleek, understated boxes made for gentlemen executives. There are larger, stacked boxes intended for family-sized picnics. But more frequently, bento boxes are clever little plastic cases, nested with compartments and decorated with cartoons or anime. They're perfect for kids, and cool for teens.

At the little variety stores in the Little Tokyo plazas, they had lots of bento boxes to choose from. I chose this pink box with snapping locks on the side - it can easily hold a sandwich, or here, last night's roasted potatoes and a slice of frittata.

This pale pink triangular box stacks two separate compartments. You can pack a serving of rice in one, and meat or vegetable in the other.

Bento boxes are reusable, so you can cut down on waste like plastic bags and foil. A bento box may seem small, but food is packed in tightly so it doesn't get messed up. Compartments keep food from mingling, and edible dividers, such as slices of cucumbers, are used to keep food separate. Some boxes have small internal containers, or you can use small silicone muffin cups to nest items.

Or pieces of fruit in one, and cookies below - the fruit stays fresh and the cookies stay dry.

Proper nutrition is so important that Japanese parents have perfected the art of making lunches attractive to tempt even the pickiest children. Food is styled to resemble toys, flowers, or even cute cartoon characters.  Vegetables are cut into decorative shapes, and everything is put together inside to be attractive as well as appetizing. HERE is a gallery of pictures of pretty bentos.

I can't quite achieve that yet, but perhaps as I get used to carrying a cute lunch box, I'll learn how to make what's inside look cuter too.

For now, though, it's nice just to be more stylish - at a good price. Each of my bento boxes cost about $3. There were other shapes to choose from - oval, slender, or cylindrical. If you want to see more varieties, you can browse at this website HERE .

This little tote is so simple it's just a step above the traditional Japanese furoshiki, a square of cloth wrapped and knotted to carry a bento box. It cost $2. Quite a bit nicer than a plastic grocery-store sack!

For dessert, I slipped in a couple of pieces of Japanese candy! Have a sweet pink treat for Pink Saturday.

Wouldn't you like to make your workday lunches prettier? You can read more about bento boxes at THIS LINK.


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Bento boxes are really neat. I remember eating really well on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, the stores in the railroad station all had nice, freshly prepared food.

I love the "Natural Lunch Time" blazoned on the side of yours.

The Artful Diva said...

The "Bento" I use is a software program! Happy PS.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

and a slice of frittata.

Two slices look twice as delicious...

Susan B said...

Oh, now I want a Bento box for my lunch! Maybe some of the Japanese stores along Sawtelle will have them...

NicNacManiac said...

Fantastic invention for sure...bit of everything all packed up neat and ready to eat at a moments notice!!

Glennis said...

Hi, Une femme! There used to be a great Japanese five&dime on Sawtelle, but it closed. You might find something at the Nijiya Market, it's in the back of a two-story strip mall on Sawtelle north of Olympic. Or check out the Mitsuwa market down on Centinela at Venice.

But if you get a chance, do go downtown and check out Little Tokyo. It's worth a trip.

dana said...

I make my hubby's lunch every day. However, is not good about returning the plastic contains I send with him on some days. I wouldn't trust him with the Bento! However, I LOVE them and I was still heading into work every day, you can bet your bippy I'd get myself some of those. Love the little tote, too!

Hope you're having a great Pink Saturday!!! dana

suesueb said...

Love the idea of the Bento box! I've seen some of the decorative lunches the Japanese fix and am amazed at the clever way they do it. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful pink weekend!!

Southwest Cottage Designs said...

Your heading photo is beautiful, I the lunch totes/bags are so cute. As you have learned by my blog post, I also like taking lunches. My husband and I are always packing lunches for work, picnics, and trips. It saves money. Thank you for your comment on my blog. I'm now following your blog.

JudyBug said...

I've never heard of a Bento box. Love it! Your lunch looks delicious!

Gerri Herbst said...

Pretty Pink Saturday. Looked at yr blog and all your amazing photos!Happy PS. gerri

Tara said...

It looks like a delicious lunch and it's kept in the cutest pink box and bag! Happy Pink Saturday!

Alexia said...

I want one! I take my lunch to school every day in a boring ordinary plastic snap-box. I shall be looking out for something more attractive, that's for sure.

I also want some frittata. Why is there never any left over at my house for lunches next day???

LaVerne said...

Love your post! I first saw bento boxes a couple of years ago on a blog...Lisa laughs...and she was doing Weight Watchers and organizing her meals and her children's lunches in bentos. I have been moving to a high fiber diet and was looking just today for some little 1 and 2 oz. containers I could use to pack granola and fruits and luck here in central texas and then Boom! your cool blog post!!! thanks for the link, I'm off to I can't wait for school to start so i can have the coolest lunch on campus! Have a Pink Week.

Cindy Lew's Studio said...

Wow, I have never seen that, I love it. I agree........ food that looks good makes it easier to eat I guess. How funny. Love it!!!

Thanks for stopping by.

Have a wonderful week.

Love, Light & Harmony ~ CindyLew

Mary Bergfeld said...

I love to walk through ethnic markets. Your stroll produced some wonderful finds. They certainly are perfect for Pink Saturday. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

The Old Parsonage said...

Cool - never heard of them and they are soo stylish. I live close enough that I run home for lunch most days.

That fritata looks wonderful!!


Stephanie Suzanne Designs said...

I love the Bento boxes...definitely makes for a pretty lunch presentation. I'll check out that website.

Thanks so much for visiting with me for Pink Saturday!

Pink Sparkles for your week,
Stephanie ♥