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Mr. Bento

February 10, 2010 1 comment

I like food.  A lot.  I like to make it, I like to eat it and if it happens to look pretty or fancy then that delicious meal just got better.  A couple of years ago I somehow stumbled upon a Flickr Pool called Mr. Bento.  This pool revolves entirely around people sending pictures of food.  The unique thing about it is that they were all using a Mr. Bento lunch box.  After pursuing some of the creative and mouthwatering lunches I knew I had to try this for myself.  As soon as I was able to I bought one (well, two because I got one for Kingpotato as well).

I was so exited when Mr. Bento arrived; I packed a lunch as soon as I had my first opportunity.  The lunches were okay, but within a couple of weeks I lost interest (surprise surprise).  Kingpotato and I have moved twice since then, but I could never bring myself to get rid of our Mr. Bentos.  I knew that eventually I would start using it again.  I am so glad that I kept those Mr. Bentos because I recently broke them out of the pantry.  Testing a line break.

For about two weeks now Kingpotato and I have been bringing lunch to work every day using our Mr. Bentos.  So far most of the lunches have been kind of experimental on my part but they’ve all been quite tasty and vastly healthier than the fast food we usually eat for lunch.  And I’ve been learning what foods travel well (the carrots and celery have become a staple) and which don’t (we learned to keep the granola separate from the yogurt and sandwiches surprisingly didn’t travel well in the Mr. Bento). I’ve had more vegetables in the last couple of weeks than I probably had last month.  It even dawned on me that if I’m happily munching on the veggies I’m bringing that I should start including fruits to munch on as well (yes – I’m actually considering consuming fruit voluntarily).

In addition to the healthier meals that I’m actually eating (gasp!) and enjoying (SHOCK!) I’m starting to realize that while I enjoy eating the food I’m packing I enjoy preparing the food just as much.  I try to think of lunches that are simple and that utilize whatever we have on hand – I’m actually using leftovers.  I’ve been making sure that when I cook dinner I can somehow adapt it for lunch.  And since my Mr. Bento has four containers to fill, I try to think of four different foods each day and I’m trying to avoid repetition.  I have a challenge each day to bring something unique and tasty.  I feel proud whenever I’ve taken my time and prepared our lunches with care.

Mr. Bento has also saved us money.  I honestly don’t know how much money I was spending on lunch every week, I just know that it was getting out of hand.  I can estimate that I was paying somewhere between $5 and $12 per day on lunch and Kingpotato was probably doing similarly.  If you just do some averaging we were spending over $100 a week on lunch.  And that figure doesn’t even account the days we ate out or picked up dinner (which was most nights).

With the lunches we’ve packed our grocery bill has been about the same.  If we’re not spending more money on groceries that  means that we were probably throwing away most of what we were buying.  Which is a misuse of our money and horribly wasteful.  So Mr. Bento is saving us money for a variety of reasons:

1) We’re eating what we’re buying at the grocery store (using our money efficiently)
2) We’re not eating out to lunch (saves us money)
3) Since I’m trying to use leftovers as the lunches (more effecient use of money) we’re making dinner home more (saves us more money).

Even if our grocery bill went up because we started purchasing more groceries I think we’d still be spending less on food.

I got my Mr. Bento from amazon.com – they sell a variety of different sized bentos and bento accessories like these soy sauce containers.

If you are considering purchasing a bento, blog Just Bento provides a guide to determining the correct bento size for your needs.

If you like food and are looking for a way to save money bentos are a good way to do it if you’re up for the challenge.  I’m learning that bentos aren’t easy.  They require a lot of planning,  creativity and most of all time.  But as far as I’m concerned the rewards are worth it.

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