Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 18, 2017
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The brown bag goes black

I brought a hot lunch to work today, something I’ve never done before. I brought it in a Zojirushi Classic Stainless Lunch Jar, Black. Why specify “Black”? Because the Lunch Jar comes in a wide variety of sizes and colours, each with a slightly different name. For example, several have “Bento” in the description, others do not. If, after reading the glowing review which follows, you decide to buy one, pay close attention to the exact name of the model when ordering.

Zojirushi vacuum canisters are at the cutting edge of hot and cold meal containers. The system consists of an insulated stainless steel cylinder about 10 centimetres in diameter which holds two, three or four plastic containers with lids. The model I used has three: the bottom one holds 280 millilitres of, say, soup; the middle one a 790-millilitre entree; and the top (400 ml) is intended for vegetables or rice.

The whole unit snaps into a neat insulated bag and will keep food at its peak temperature for three to four hours. This model also has a handy carrying strap and comes with chopsticks and a stainless steel “spork.”

The Japanese are mad about hot meals for lunch and bento units are ubiquitous in Japan. Fans here are passionate about them too. A Google search brings up a host of sites that are devoted to the “jars” — try Flickr, Facebook or Kaboodle for starters. Amazon.com (not, unfortunately, amazon.ca) will also give you an idea of what’s available along with hundreds of customer reviews.

Main perks: nutrition you can count on, convenience and — a big one — saving money. With restaurant lunches now averaging close to $10, some users say the vacuum units pay for themselves in as little as a couple of weeks.

Needed improvements: the insulated bag could
fit more snugly; it would be handy if it held a drink bottle as well; it’s not dishwasher safe and needs to be cleaned in hot soapy water after each use.

Different models are intended for different appetites. Check out the Mr. Bento Stainless-Steel lined, Silver/
Grey, and the smaller Ms. Bento, Blue, which has a total capacity of 650 millilitres in three containers.

Prices range from $30 to $60. Available at Forum Home Appliances (604-688-1626) in Vancouver, Sanko Trading (416-703-4550) in Toronto, Miyamoto Fine Foods (514-481-1952) in Montreal, or on www.ebay.ca.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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