I’ve had my Mr. Bento for 8 months now. This is my updated review of a great all around lunch box. I wrote about my initial thoughts back in February. Before we get into it, I should mention there are different version of Mr. Bento. The one I got is a little larger than Zojirushi Classic Bento Vacuum Lunch Jar, which is considered the classic. You can even get them in red, gun metallic, lemon yellow I still love the Mr. Bento.
So, I have taken more than 40 pictures of all the different lunches I have made using Mr. Bento. I added all of them to the Mr. Bento group on Flickr. This group has thousands of pictures and every picture has great ideas of what to fill your bento box up with.
I have found that it is easiest to fill my Mr. Bento up when I have already planned ahead what I am going to load into it. Of course, if you already have left overs in the fridge this makes loading up your bento much easier! I have never spent more than 15 minutes filling up the bento. Somethings that take longer to make, I sometimes do the evening before.
The basic Mr. Bento has four food containers. From top to bottom they are:
- Small side bowl 6.8 ounces. I’ve found that this makes a great dessert container. Because it is the smallest container it means that I limit whatever sweets are in this container. This container is not water tight, although I have put some wet fruit in this one without any problems. The items in this container will stay cold for about 4 hours, or warm for a little longer depending on what it is.
- Large Side Bowl 10.1 ounces. This container is a very good size. Its great for big pieces of fruit. I like to put two peach halves or two pear halves with cinnamon in this container. This container is right on top of the insulated main bowl, so it stays warmer or cooler longer than the top small side bowl. This bowl is not water tight either.
- Main bowl 15.2 ounces. This bowl is the least water tight of all. Although it is the largest bowl that stays warm or cool. It is the only bowl with an insulated top. A good way to keep this bowl extra hot is to keep some very hot soup in the bowl under it. This is where you put your main entree. The bulk of your meal. Again, lots of ideas on the Flickr group.
- Soup Bowl 9.5 ounces. This is the only water tight bowl. It has never leaked for me. It hold soup, yogurt, or whatever you want. This one is the hardest one to clean because you have to take the rubber ring out every time to wash it. I use a toothpick to get that ring out.
Above is a typical Mr. Bento for me. From the top left clockwise, you can see I put miso soup in the soup bowl (this is a warm bento). I get the soup from trader joe’s. Next the Katsu chicken is really just a fried chicken patty from smart and final on top of some rice. Next is my old stand by, pears from trader joe’s, they come in a glass jar. I sprinkle a little cinnamon on them to give them some extra oomph. Lastly, dessert. Two cookies and a little piece of sees candy. That makes for a very satisfying meal!
All the container bowls must be hand washed. I don’t really find this a big deal, because I figure by doing this the containers will last longer. Some people on the Amazon reviews have commented that they have some lingering food smells coming from their containers after prolonged usage. I’ve had mine for 8 months and have not had that happen to me.
After packing some lasagna I did have a very light stain start in the main bowl. No big deal. It doesn’t bother me. I originally got the Bento because I was tired of having sandwiches everyday for lunch in a plastic bag from a grocery store. The bento lets me bring anything I wanted to work to eat and best of all it would stay cold or warm until I was ready to eat it 4 to 6 hours later.
Now that I have had the bento for a while I find my self packing sandwiches again. Even though the shape of the containers is circular you can easily cut the sandwich in triangles and pack them in the main bowl easily. If you want to get creative and your one of the people that don’t like bread crust you can use the large side bowl to cut your bread before you make your sandwich. Then it will easily fit in the main bowl. I’ve also found that the new thin circular bread they are making now makes a perfect fit for the bento bowls, as does hamburger buns.
Below is an example of the round bread.