Monday, September 8, 2008

Domo arigato Mr. Bento!

My kids had not been eating their school lunches I was been packing for them and so I had been experimenting with different things to make lunch more fun for them. Problem is, they really prefer a hot lunch. So I tried these thermos type things from Target and you put the food in, microwave it and then screw on the lid. The kids loved it, but as the food cooled off it create a vacuum, the lid locked and neither of them could open it without a combination of 3-5 children and or adults helping to get it open. So....dah, dah, dah, dah...I began my search for a better alternative. With some expert internet sleuthing, I found it. The answer to all our school lunchtime woes is - Mr. Bento. It is made by Zojirushi, a Japanese company and is intended for a Japanese style lunch of soup, rice, meat and vegetable. There is an outer insulated canister into which four containers fit (they even give you a metal spork with a nifty cap like you would put on your toothbrush for traveling). The first is insulated and is intended for soup. The second is also insulated and intended for rice. The top two are not insulated and are for meat and vegetables. I boil hot water and pour it into the canister and two bottom containers and put the lids on to heat the containers. Then pour out the water from the containers, dry them out and put the food in the containers. It keeps it hot for hours! I don't have leftovers crowding the fridge, the kids love their lunch, they get a variety of foods, the thing is terrific! Check it out on Amazon, and don't be afraid to look on at a site called Mr. Bento Porn. I have no idea why this is the name, but it is just pictures of what people have put into their Mr. Bento for lunch. It is pricey, I admit it, but it is paying for itself quickly as we are not wasting leftovers and lunch food anymore. If you go to the website you will find their American website. If you search Mr.Bento they will give you names of places in your area that sell them, or you can order them online. I went to a very interesting Asian grocery store to get mine. I asked where they were, they pointed. I asked about their return policy, they pointed to the receipt, then the box, and held up one finger while repeating "week". I took that to mean you have one week to bring your receipt and all your packaging if you would like to return it. Thankfully we aren't returning it and I didn't have to pay any shipping charges. Thought some of you moms with school age children might want to look into it. The kids have had swedish meatballs and rice, green beans, apple slices and drink and some chocolate covered raisins (thank you grandma for spoiling us with treats from Costco) or Italian pot roast, noodles, peas, or chicken and rice, potato soup, you get the idea. It either keeps all the food hot or all the foods cold, but not hot and cold at the same time. I have even surprised the kids with pancakes, syrup, eggs, sausage one day. It is intended that the bottom is warmer than the top containers. I find that I can put a piece of cake or some other kind of treat in the top container and fruit in the second down, with the two hot containers at the bottom. If I don't have anything for the bottom soup container I just leave it filled with hot water to keep everything warm. It comes with a case to carry it all and there is even a pocket on the outside that is big enough to tuck in a drink. Thing one and thing two love it! They are totally bummed to get a regular lunch. They much prefer Mr. Bento. When the weather is warm I make salads, sandwich wraps, pudding, etc. Their all time favorite is in the winter I make hot cocoa for the bottom soup container and send in a straw. They slurp away and make all their school friends jealous.


McEwens said...

That sounds like a GREAT product! Thanks for doing the research!!!

Noah said...

You are amazing. I won't let my kids read your blog. They will be jealous. My kids pack their own lunches and frankly many days I have NO CLUE what is in them! I do have ONE rule, "Fruit Snacks do NOT count as a fruit serving!" I will look into this "lunch" box you use however. I think it would be handy for day trips.
Thanks for sharing. Heather

erin said...

That is a great idea. Will you come make our meals too. You sound like a great cook and mom.
You never cease to amaze me!

Michelle said...

Okay, so totally randomly, right after I read this, Steve won a Mr. Bento in the raffle at his company party! I can't wait to try it out when Megan is in 1st grade!