A Beginner’s Bento

Anyone who has known me for any stretch of time has probably noticed how much I enjoy food. My hefty appetite has always been something I wield with pride. Appetizer? Duh. Main course? Huge. Room for dessert? Always.

Once I got my big girl job, things got a little out of hand and I started eating out almost every day. For a while I carried on in blissful ignorance to how much my love for food was costing me. After a casual check on my expenses, it was clear that it was time for a hard stop.

I decided to approach bringing lunch to work as a way to save money and a chance to take a little more control over how I eat. Thus, the

Beginner Bento Supplies: Kotobuki Panda Sandwich Mold, Freshware Silicone Baking Cups, Grass Baran Dividers, FunBites Square Food Cutter, Monbento Sauce Cups.

Beginner Bento Supplies: Kotobuki Panda Sandwich Mold, Freshware Silicone Baking Cups, Grass Baran Dividers, FunBites Square Food Cutter, Monbento Sauce Cups.

bento. A more creatively involved way to prep lunch from home. I’m not talking about that insane character art stuff. Aint nobody got time for that. Some research, inspiration, and online shopping later I gathered up with a beginner bento starter kit.

The thing on the left is the Kotobuki Panada Sandwich mold. It comes in two pieces. One to cut the crust off of the bread and another to smoosh the two slices together to make a neat little pocket sandwich. It’s a little bigger than I thought it would be. Apparently bread slices in Japan are huge. The video below demonstrates how it works. This guy is pretty much the reason why I bought the thing. They need to hire this guy for commercials.

Top middle is a stack of baking cups. Useful for separating different foods and containing the unruly stuff like dips, blueberries, and granola. Plus, they’re made of silicone and reusable. If you’re into it, they can also come in cutesy shapes. I opted for the regular cupcake shaped ones because I didn’t want to get too ridiculous.

Decorative bento baran suddenly turns plain bread into exotic, artisan dough. Well. Kind of.

Decorative bento baran suddenly turns plain bread into exotic, artisan dough. Well. Kind of.

Right under those are grass sheets that you often see with sushi.  They’re called “baran”, another divider for bento boxes. These aren’t as awesome at separating as the baking cups, but they’re more decorative. When I’m not too concerned about things touching and the integrity of foods getting destroyed, I use these. It comes is a package of 200 or some other huge number, so I don’t feel bad tossing them after one use.

The contraption in the top right is the FunBites square food cutter. It cuts food. Into squares. Pretty simple. It’s aimed at making food bite-sized for kids. I’m not exactly sure why I was so compelled to buy this thing. It might have to do with me thinking I could trick myself into eating less by consuming more individual pieces or something. Regardless of what attracts you to it, it works very well. Unlike my pocket sandwich maker, it’s perfectly sized for a regular piece of bread with minimal waste besides the crust.

The tiny containers at the bottom right are monbento sauce cups.  I got the pair for about $10. As an after thought, this may have been a little much for what they are. They’re pretty tiny. But in defence they are high quality. It’s the same smooth material as the monbento box and the screwtop is leakproof. Really, though. They’re small. Think “condiment” instead of “sauce.” They’re great for dipping baby carrots in a reasonable amount of ranch. I’ve also used them for ketchup.

All this stuff came in before my actual bento box did. But fortunately, the grocery store I go to had some Rubbermaid LunchBlox on sale. So I could start bringing lunch right away. I was stupid excited. Anyway, here are my first two beginner bento boxes. There’s two parts to each of them: the snack and the lunch portion.

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So, this is the beginning of my journey into bento lunches. I’ll let you know in a bit how the whole eat-healthier-and-spend-less-money-thing is going.

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