Bento Boxes

Some years ago when I had a long commute in odd hours I started carrying my lunch to be able to eat on the train or in other dead times. Choosing just between sandwiches and pickle based rice or pasta salads was soon starting to get boring, and when I found out about the huge number of recipes from the bento community on the net I was easily conquered.

Like probably most bento enthusiasts, I have some kind of box and accessories fetish, but (luckily?) I don't have easy access to a source of them, and ordering online tends to have huge shipping fees, so I've managed not to overflow my kitchen.

On the other hand, plain plastic containers are often a good source for bento boxes, and always tend to look at them with an eye for that in supermarkets and other similar stores.

This is a list of the boxes I currently have.

Main Boxes

Lube Sheep

My first bento boxes were a pair of common Lube Sheep two-layer sets bought on ebay; while they helped me getting a feel for sizes and portions, the fact that they aren't dishwater safe meant that they aren't very practical, and I ended up using them only for special occasions.


When I started bentoing daily I needed something that could be thrown in the dishwasher in the evening, and I saw the RARITET line from IKEA: they are flat containers in semitransparent dark plastic that fit well in a furoshiki; I first bought a couple of 2 layer RARITET, and then on a second visit two 1 layer RARITET which back then included a smaller inner container.

They are both quite big for a traditional rice based bento, but being flat it is not hard to pack them with some empty space with the help of some silicon divider, and still keep the lunch stable when carrying. They are also good for western style lunches such as pasta salads that take more space.

When using the 2 layer version with a rice based bento in the summer I can fit a dry ice pack in the lower layer, together with chopsticks and/or plastic cutlery.


The RARITET boxes are great when kept flat, wrapped in a furoshiki, carried once on my car in the morning and then kept in the same place until lunchtime. They are not so great when traveling by urban bus and moving from an university building to the next a few times, because there is no way that they can fit in a bag or backpack. I was idly looking for some slimmer and taller container when I noticed the GLIS box in the children section of ikea. While they are sold as containers for small games, they were food, dishwater and microwave safe, and they cost next to nothing. I bought two sets, for a total 6 boxes, and they were nice to have when I was eating alone and doing a dishwasher only once every three - four days.


GLIS boxes in use.

Unluckily it seems that the new version of these boxes is no longer food safe, so if they break down I will have to look for something else.

They are not perfectly tight, so I usually put the paper napkin arount the lid to catch any spill before wrapping them in a furoshiki, but I've only had problems with runnier ingredients like mayo.

It holds about 650-700ml, and so is just right for rice based and other well packed dishes. The only downside is that they are a single container, and keeping different foods separated is a bit problematic.

Steel Schiscetta

This is my granfather's lunch box or shiscetta [ski'ʃɛtta]; made of steel, with a main container and a smaller second layer; he used to heat it at work in boiling water and used it with a set of folding steel cutlery.

I now use it on special occasions, and I've tried a couple ot times to bring homemade instant soup (italianized variants of this just bento recipe), back when I had access to a source of boiling water at lunchtime.

Ferrino Thermal Lunch Jar

My latest addition is a Ferrino (an italian camping gear brand) thermal lunch jar bought with loyalty points at a local supermarket.

Disposable Boxes

Whenever I buy food in a container that looks sturdy enough, instead of throwing it away I try to wash it and keep it: while they aren't usually safe for repeated uses, I suppose that washing them once or twice isn't going to hurt much.

While using proper reusable containers is surely better for a daily lunch, there are times when being able to throw away the box helps, such as when preparing a roadside lunch for the first day of a multi-day trip, or when fearing that the box could be confiscated somewhere.

Small disposable containers are also useful inside regular bentos: small sauce holders are harder to find when shopping somewhere that isn't bento specific.


Again, IKEA comes to help: they don't always have them, but sometimes you can buy plastic chopsticks that aren't as confortable as "real" ones, but can survive dishwashers and other rough treatment.

Another interesting line is the KALAS one: it includes a plastic cutlery set for children that are small enough to fit in a bento package, but big enough to be confortable to use.

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