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Peter the eater

Bentos (2009-)

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That is really a beautiful bento. I am currently making 3 bentos a day and am burned out. Summer vacation starts in 2 weeks and I am really looking forward to the 6 week vacation from bento making....

Helen,

I do takikomi all year round, it's a really easy dish when I am feeling lazy. :biggrin:


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I was surprised to see taki-komi gohan in summer, and you have so many side-dishes as well.

I second the taki-gomi gohan love year-round. It's pretty much the only way I can get my husband to eat room temperature rice. Harumi (I know, I know, I'm always on about her) has a great carrot and pork with black pepper taki-gomi-style recipe in the most recent book I bought that makes for a great bento filler.

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Do you ever get over to justbento? She has some great side dish ideas, along with ideas about what stores well for your joubisai.

One of my favourite fillers is "ribbons" of carrot cut with your carrot peeler, then lightly sauteed with mirin and sesame oil. You can pile them under your meat or protein as a colourful bed.

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Totally! I love JustBento. I don't know how Maki keeps up with all of her sites, but she does a brilliant job! JB and JustHungry have been my main go-to sources for a long time. I have been finding many other amazing recipe sources lately but I'll always be a frequent visitor of her sites.

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PJ just finished up a week of day camp at the Central Park Zoo. The night before camp Ellen was like, "What are you going to pack him for lunch tomorrow?" And I was like, "He gets to bring lunch?" Anyway, I got an unexpected, extra week (four days actually) of lunch practice.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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PJ started kindergarten a couple of weeks ago. Between a phased adjustment schedule, a couple of days off for holidays, and a half day last Friday, he has only had three lunch days in two weeks.

The rules this year are different. He's in a New York City public school now so there are essentially no rules: no restrictions on what he can bring (doesn't have to be kosher, dairy, nut-free or anything else), no brown-paper-bag requirement, and they don't refrigerate the lunches.

These changes should allow for some exploration and increased interest in lunch-making this year, but for the first few lunches we went with the familiar. This coming week I'll start adding some new items into the rotation and we'll see what works.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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One thing I need to do is get some new lunch containers. Maybe you all can help. These are the requirements:

1. Has to be available in the US (preferably from Amazon).

2. Has to be easy for little hands to open (the Lock & Lock containers are great; most others haven't worked as well).

3. Has to be modular, i.e., not a big single lunch box but rather a little container that can be mixed and matched with others to make up a lunch kit.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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We got this Hello Kitty set in Tokyo and Bebe uses it every day for school now. I don't know why it costs so much -- it's about double what we paid -- but the features are great. The clear plastic cover holds the chopsticks, spork, etc., and the largest container has a sliding plastic wall that allows you to adjust the capacity of either side of it.

If that doesn't make sense, I can take photos tonight.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Are the containers easily openable and closeable, as well as relatively air- and water-tight? Our experience with anything other than snap-lock-type containers is that they're either leaky or difficult for little fingers to open.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Bebe is the coolest kitty in her class. Sanrio sticks it to us pricewise here in the USA, but as a Hello Kitty fan I can't think it costs too much. If I didn't eat every lunch at home, I'd be doing the 2-Day 1 click. Deeply cool.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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This type of lunchbox wasn't available when my kids were in kindergarten. However, we do use this kind of lunchbox now. Compared to similar containers bought elsewhere, the ones I've bought in Japan close securely, and don't warp. I think a three year old would have trouble opening them without spilling, but a five year old should be OK. Have you tried with similar containers at home?

Bento boxes with separate containers are very easy to eat from, even for adults, but especially for little hands. The separate containers also make it easy to include dessert, Vegan jellies that set at room temperature, and things with messy sauce.

The lock type are easy to open but the little flanges holding the lock seemed to break fairly easily. That's why people use those wide elastic bands. But that's life with kindergartners!

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Here are two shots of the box. Each of the components with their lids on:

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Opened up. You can see the sliding wall in the large container, and the chopstick holder in the lid:

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The lids are easy for Bebe to open and seem more or less water-tight. I think it'd fit the bill.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Fat Guy, have you considered the Laptop Lunch system? I work as a noon supervisor for a local elementary school, and the Laptop Lunch system seems to be easy for the little kids to use. The other popular options are the Snaplock/Lock and Lock style containers.


Cheryl

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The Lock & Lock containers, made in Korea, that we've been using have been excellent. They've endured through many, many dishwashings. They're air- and water-tight. They're very easy to open and close. And they're cheap: they tend to clock in around $3 (US) each.

So when I see other containers that cost many times as much and don't have a real locking mechanism, and when I combine that with my own bad experiences with such containers either being leaky or difficult for PJ to open, I find it hard to justify a non-Lock & Lock purchase.

The no-leak issue is important for us because the kids' lunches are thrown in a big sack together and it's easy for them to get inverted and knocked around. That doesn't matter for every food item under the sun, and I suppose it's possible to pack dry foods in certain containers and wet foods in others, but I don't want to have to make such distinctions at 6:30am.

The only problem is that the Lock & Lock containers are kind of boring aesthetically. Pretty much the best I can do is get some with different colored gaskets. If they came in cool designs I'd be thrilled. Somehow long ago at H-Mart we got a Lock & Lock knockoff with a stainless dish and a lid decorated with Pororo, who I believe to be a Korean anime penguin. That has been our number one container. I have no idea how to track down its kin, though.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I want to ask: What are you putting into the bentos that's leaking?

The thing is, the things that traditionally go into a bento are meant to be non-liquidy; people who use bentos everyday have the expectation that some effort must be made into making sure they stay relatively upright and that they don't get banged around much. Since this is particularly hard for young children to do, there's a lot of that that's resolved by the choice of food that goes into the box, rather than the box itself. So if you're choosing foods that are leaky because that's what PJ likes to eat, a rational choice, by the way, then you may be limited to the Lock n' lock containers by that. Some bento containers come with an inset lid, but it still doesn't make a Lock n' lock style seal.

You can't put hit lunch in a proper bento-carrying bag, right? It's got to be a paper bag?

Have you tried using paper cupcake liners to absorb some of the liquid coming off what's going in? Like melon cubes, for example - they're going to shed liquid, but if you put them in a paper cup, it's somewhat minimized.

Otherwise, do you have a Lock n' lock shop near you? I'm going to one on Huaihai lu in Shanghai tomorrow. IIRC, they have a lunch box section. I'll take some pictures, if you like. I became a convert to Lock n' lock when I lived in Korea, and now my kitchen couldn't run without them.

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Not trying to advocate here, just provide information:

The no-leak issue is important for us because the kids' lunches are thrown in a big sack together and it's easy for them to get inverted and knocked around. That doesn't matter for every food item under the sun, and I suppose it's possible to pack dry foods in certain containers and wet foods in others, but I don't want to have to make such distinctions at 6:30am.

Same situation here, including the big pile o' bags that leave the lunchbox in any which way. We've never had leaks. Having said that, I'm wondering what Erin is wondering: what's so wet?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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There's a Lock & Lock store?!?!?! I want to live there.

I don't pack things like soup, but something like the water given off by raspberries can easily wind up at the bottom of his lunch bag if the container gets inverted and doesn't have a good seal. Unfortunately the level of lunch-making at American elementary schools is so low there's no thought given to keeping things upright. Rest assured the fact that Chris Amirault and I are talking about these issues makes us total outliers.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Unfortunately the level of lunch-making at American elementary schools is so low there's no thought given to keeping things upright. Rest assured the fact that Chris Amirault and I are talking about these issues makes us total outliers.

Talking about lunch at American schools ... anyone watch Jamie Oliver's "American Food Revolution"? I'd take a packed lunch any day!

http://www.jamieoliver.com/news/jamie-s-american-food-revolution


Best Wishes,

Chee Fai.

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Lock & Lock containers are from the same company that distributes Starfrit and T-Fal. They don't have free-standing stores (from what I've read on their website), at least not in North America. They do, however, have internet shopping with all the Lock&Lock containers at 20% right now. Free shipping with orders over $69. And they also have pretty containers with different colours, which I've never seen before.

At least in Canada (the distributor for North America is Canadian).

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Unfortunately the level of lunch-making at American elementary schools is so low there's no thought given to keeping things upright. Rest assured the fact that Chris Amirault and I are talking about these issues makes us total outliers.

This is...disheartening. They can't even keep lunches upright? I guess they have other priorities, but still.

I'm just thinking that in an average Asian bento lunch, the rice would absorb any excess liquid. But raspberries...well, have you got a paper liner option?

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I guess I could come up with various solutions, but my preferred solution is to use a container that won't leak. This is particularly so given that Lock & Lock containers tend to be cheaper than the ones that do leak!

The whole uprightness issue just isn't a consideration in American schools, where something like 99% of the kids who brown bag it on any given day come with a sandwich or something that doesn't need to be upright. I forgot this morning to take a photo of the big pile of lunches at our son's school. I'll try to illustrate that one day soon.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The ones I seem to use the most are the 6 ounce and the 11 ounce, both rectangular, which doesn't mean I couldn't use smaller ones.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Unfortunately the level of lunch-making at American elementary schools is so low there's no thought given to keeping things upright. Rest assured the fact that Chris Amirault and I are talking about these issues makes us total outliers.

This is...disheartening. They can't even keep lunches upright? I guess they have other priorities, but still.

I'm not sure "other priorities" would explain the massive pile of backpacks to which Bebe adds hers by throwing it, rather ceremoniously I'll add, atop the table, lunchbox inside. But a massive pile it is.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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