Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 21, 2017

Laptop Bento Set 2.0.

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Better with bento

What comes to mind when you think of a typical workday lunch? Delicious? Healthy?

For most of us, a weekday lunch consists of leftovers in a plastic container. One word comes to mind: boring!

It sounds unlikely, but a bento can help. Meaning a meal in a box in Japanese, a bento needn’t be filled with Japanese food, just used to transport a meal from home to your desk. Makiko Itoh, the creator of JustBento.com, a site about healthy bentos that take 20 to 30 minutes to assemble, used bento lunches to lose 30 pounds.

According to Itoh, the first step is finding a box that fits your dietary needs. The number of millilitres a tightly-packed, Japanese-based bento holds, she explains, is roughly the amount of calories you’ll eat. If the box is made in another country, you may just be given its measurements. Whatever you use, get one that’s as close to the precise size you need. Itoh puts four to five different foods in her bentos.

As long as it’s the appropriate size, any leak-proof vessel will do. A container from Canadian Tire will come without dividers so be prepared to pack it tightly with dry foods. A Japanese box can be one- or two-tiered — easier to pack. Even simpler are those with compartments.

If you buy online, note that you’ll pay a brokerage fee on US orders over $20. Japan has excellent shipping costs.

The Shikiri from the Kyoto-based Bento&co (en.bentoandco.com; US$26) has dividers for people who like lots of little portions and, since it holds 870ml, it’s good if you need to carry more than just lunch.

A slim oval bento from the Unit Colors Collection (casabento.com; from €21.79) has three compartments and holds 650ml.

If you don’t use plastic, there’s the stainless-steel Eco Lunchbox made in India (also from Bento&co; US$33.80), a two-tiered box good for one sandwich and two side dishes (13.6cm x 10.2cm x 7.5cm).

The US-made, kid-friendly Laptop Bento Set 2.0 is sold through the Ontario-based fenigo.com for $27.97 (23cm x 17cm x .57cm).

And for a gorgeous hand-crafted bento gift, there’s the one-tiered 450ml Nara Bento (US$73) from Bento&co.

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

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