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 Post subject: Zojirushi Bento Boxes
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 7:59 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
Hi all,

I've been meaning to post something about this for weeks!

Last summer I heard about these amazing thermoses that will keep your food warm for up to 6 hours. I just started law school this year and sometimes have days where I'm at the school 8am-9pm. My former school had a lounge with a microwave and a fridge, so that wasn't too bad, but my new school only has a microwave. Naturally, I was worried that I wouldn't have nutritious (and safe) food at school.

I bought one of the Bentos online from Ebay - called Mini Bento. This was child-sized, so I bought a replacement (actually asked for an early Christmas present) and got the Mr. Bento. Mr. Bento has 4 different compartments that can keep your foot hot or cold up to 6 hours and it is AMAZING! I honestly don't know what I would have done this year without it. One of the containers is spill-proof for soup, then another one is larger for something like rice, and then two aren't insulted but will be kept warm (I use them for crackers or veggies). Now, I use the Mini on shorter days and the Mr. on longer days. People are so impressed when I whip out a 3 course meal for lunch! If you use flickr.com, some people have posted pics of the different meals you can create, just search Zojirushi.

Here is a link. They are pretty expensive - the Mr. Bento was around $70 with shipping I think. Let me tell you, I'm a student, and I would still pay double for these if I had to.

http://www.zojirushi.com/ourproducts/lu ... hjars.html

I think you can get them through a Markham company called Galtak (galtak.com). I also got one on Ebay from someone named far east bargain with a good rating - I'd recommend him/her. I also ordered through Galtak and they were very prompt with shipping.

The first time I got mine my boyfriend and I didn't believe the hype (check out epinions, people love these things). So we put boiling water in the soup bowl and left it for 6 hours. When we opened it, there was actual steam coming from the water! Hooked ever since.

Yay for safe/hot food!!

_________________
ana to peanuts, nuts, eggs, shellfish, bananas
mild asthma and eczema, seasonal allergies


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:32 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:52 am
Posts: 214
I have two Mr Bento knockoffs that I love. One has three lidded compartments and is good for days I want to take a few mroe wet things---my laptop lunchbox does not have enough lidded sections. It does not handle soup without leaking though.

The other is a metal thermos with two sub-compartments, and is wonderful for days I want to pack soup. The thermos part is big enough for even a pretty large soup, and it really does keep things hot until lunchtime as long as you preheat it first. No complaints about leakage, but I do try to keep it upright while in transport :)

I just find that the days I am tempted to go foraging for junk food are the days when I only had a smushed-up sandwich in a ziploc bag. Having a nice lunch in an attractively presented container makes me enjoy what I am eating a lot more.

_________________
Asthma and eczema
Drug allergy (succinylcholine)
Food (corn, raw apples, green beans, tree nuts, flax)
Misc (pollen, grass, mold, dogs, cats)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Thanks for the idea! I've been taking an old fashioned Coleman cooler . . . works for now, but I'll need something a bit less noticeable and awkward to carry eventually. I was actually thinking of ordering one of those laptop lunchboxes . . but I'd probably need two of them!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:05 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 926
Location: Oakville, Ontario
I really like the look of these! We have several different options for carrying hot foods, and I wonder if you could tell me if you feel the "Bento" system is superior to what we are using. It sounds like it might be, and I wondered what other systems you have used. Currently, we have 2 different sized wide-mouth Thermos brand containers - one is 6.5 inches high (~$25) , the other is 5 inches high (~$15). (Note: I found Thermos brand containers the best... they keep hot food hot/warm for about 4 hours. Some of the other thermos containers out there just don't keep food warm. It's best to bite the bullet and buy a real "Thermos" container). I also purchased a "Built NY" insulated cloth bag ($40 !!) to keep hot foods (such as slices of "safe" pizza warm for about 2 hours). In order to keep the bag warm, I heat up a rice-filled sock (one that's never been worn :wink: ) in a microwave, then place it and the hot food into the bag. If we are heading off to a birthday party (or something like that), it will keep my son's pizza hot/warm for about 2 hours.

No doubt about it, these things are not inexpensive! But, it costs a lot more to eat out, so I guess we offset the cost of buying these expensive items.

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:00 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:52 am
Posts: 214
Hi Julie! I am a bit obsessed with my lunch, so maybe I am not the person to ask (I hate cooking dinner, so lunch is my big 'fruits, vegetables and side dishes' meal). I actually have more than one set of lunchbox/jars.

The Laptop Lunchbox is good for days I have a lot of stuff to carry, because it is small and flat and fits easily in a backpack. Sushi-type meals, lunchable-type meals, pasta, things like that. I love the way everything looks in there. However, I have occasionally had trouble with leaks from the lidded container, and I wish one of the smaller containers had a lid---the current lidded container is too big for the amount of yogurt or applesauce I can reasonably eat in one sitting. Many on the Laptop Lunches flickr group have done some creative lunch hacking with other containers, but imho a well-designed system shouldn't need such extensive modding. I tend to not use this one quite as much at this time of year anyway, because I take soups a lot.

I have tis Mr. Bento Knock-Off:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/92471558@N ... 992372158/

It is my current favourite. You can only put really wet things in the top container, but you can put slightly wet things (e.g. pasta with light sauce) in any of the containers. It also can go in the microwave. It is sturdy and easy to wash. But like the LLB, it is not designed for taking something like soup, really. I use it more than the LLB, on days when I might be packing more than one wet thing, or if I am carrying snacks with me too and need a separate lunchbag no matter what.

Finally, I have one of these:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/silvergull/120893198/

I use this one a LOT at this time of year because it has a capacious inner chamber for things like soup, and it really does keep things HOT until lunchtime. Its one drawback is the sub-container that fits inside the thermos part. Anything you put in there will get hot, so it is kind of a wasted space sometimes. Often, I will pack something neutral (neither hot nor cold, e.g. crackers or trail mix) in that past and save it for a snack. Ten I will pack a lock and lock with fruit or a side dish.

_________________
Asthma and eczema
Drug allergy (succinylcholine)
Food (corn, raw apples, green beans, tree nuts, flax)
Misc (pollen, grass, mold, dogs, cats)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:52 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
HI Julie,

I would say yes and no to whether the Zojirushi is superior to your current system. The only reason I would say no is that you brought up a good point about one of the Zojirushi weaknesses - pizza. These are not thermoses designed for sandwiches, pizza, or anything that needs a wide/long space to fit into. The Zojirushi is better for soup, salads, crackers and cheese, rice, pasta, etc. - anything that can go into sort of a bowl format.

Other than that, I think the Zojirushi might be better because it's just so simple. Easy to clean, and though I don't microwave my food right in the bowls, you can. So, say you're going to a place without a fridge, but the place does have a microwave. You can always keep your food cold for however long you need, then heat it up at mealtime. Alternatively, you can just go with the food hot. That's the neat part about it, it can adjust to what your needs are on that particular day.

In order to get mine piping hot, I fill the containers with boiling water for a few minutes before I put the food in. For cold, I'll let it sit in the fridge overnight (if I remember I advance) or just pop it in the freezer for 10 min. They're really sturdy, attractive, and well-built little lunch kits! Oh, and they also come with a "spork", and some come with chopsticks.

I feel like my enthusiasm is in part out of relief to have found something that actually works, and makes the whole food allergy situation more manageable. That being said, if you're satisfied with your results, stick with it. I just like the multiple compartments, the neat little bags they come in, and their convenient portability. Hope this helps!

_________________
ana to peanuts, nuts, eggs, shellfish, bananas
mild asthma and eczema, seasonal allergies


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 926
Location: Oakville, Ontario
Thanks lin101 and ficbot! We know what to do if we want to go with this type of system - thanks!

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:12 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
I've been giving a lot of thought to buying some sort of lunch system!

I'm considering going with the laptop lunch idea: http://www.laptoplunches.com/ I like the fact that the plastic they use is fairly "safe"--no carcinogens or endocrine disrupters (see the FAQs on the site)

But I hesitate slightly on account of the general lack of lids. My unlidded containers would contain: rice, meat (generally stir-fried chicken pieces), and stir-fried veggies (I can't have raw veggies.)

Ficbot . . or anyone who has bought laptop lunch boxes--- would the top lid hold these foods in place? Or would my food get all over the place?

Does the cold pack and the Bento sleeve keep foods (like meat and dairy) adequately chilled?

If I go for this, I'd buy two rather than just one . . .I suspect the containers wouldn't be large enough for my lunches!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:11 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:52 am
Posts: 214
It would hold them in place, but you really should not put anything wet in the unlidded containers. I have even had cucumber slices leak from those. Something like carrots or steamed vegetables would be fine, but anything with a sauce or liquid really needs to be in the lidded one---and even in that one, I would not trust things like soup. The laptop lunch is pretty, but I have other containers I prefer now. Fwiw, Walmart has a Lock and Lock set that is very good, and is $8. It has a square container, a round one and a littler square one.

_________________
Asthma and eczema
Drug allergy (succinylcholine)
Food (corn, raw apples, green beans, tree nuts, flax)
Misc (pollen, grass, mold, dogs, cats)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Thanks, ficbot! I'll give this some more thought. Sounds like my veggie stir fries could be problematic . . . I don't put sauces on them, but if cucumber slices leak, my stir fries could too. <sigh>

I looked up "lock n' lock" ---they do have some great containers, and their premium line is pretty, too. (colourful lids) And they are made from safe plastic. http://us.locknlock.com/ Can't find them on the walmart website, but I'll look in store.

I guess I could find some sort of insulated lunch bag to keep things cool (instead of my cooler!) Anyone have any recommendations?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:42 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:52 am
Posts: 214
Hi Helen. Here is the set I have:

http://starfrit.com/Products/kitchen/Co ... sc_lang=en

I do like the LLB, and I love the little dip container. But I find I really need to be taking something simple with it. Soups do not work, and very wet things do not work. And if I want t take a wet stir-fry, and a side dish like applesauce, it does not work. My little round Lock and Lock does fit in the LLB though, and I like having a lunchbox that is flat and compact in my backpack. I don't use it every day, though.

_________________
Asthma and eczema
Drug allergy (succinylcholine)
Food (corn, raw apples, green beans, tree nuts, flax)
Misc (pollen, grass, mold, dogs, cats)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 5:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
Just to pipe in for the Zojirushi - I know on the Mr. Bento, the bottom bowl is spill-proof. Also, all the Zojirushis can be hot or cold. Each separate container has its own lid, then they all go into one larger vacuum container, then in a bag. So lots of protection - I knock it around all the time and it has never spilled. I have had a little bit of spillage on the Mini Bento, though, because it doesn't have the outer shell - but I've been able to fix it by putting a layer of Press N Seal over top.

For Helen - I steam veggies in the morning and add herbs and olive oil, and they are fine in the soup bowl. Then I put rice in the bowl on top for lunch stirfries.

_________________
ana to peanuts, nuts, eggs, shellfish, bananas
mild asthma and eczema, seasonal allergies


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 2:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
So if I put, say, heated meat and veggies in the bottom container, could I put something requiring refrigeration in the second (I'm thinking of yogurt/kefir with fruit here)? I'm not sure if you can mix hot and cold items at the same time . . .

As I understand it, the bottom two containers have insulated lids and will maintain their temperatures, but the top two aren't insulated (but have some protection from the insulated flask) and aren't recommended for food that will spoil like meat/dairy?

BTW, I've found another type of bento-style thermos (made by nissan thermos):

http://www.amazon.com/Nissan-Tote-Sport ... 82&sr=8-42

The good thing about this product: the company specifies which type of plastic they use (a food-safe plastic). The containers are dishwasher safe.

But it doesn't come with a lunch bag (like the Mr Bento) and also, the containers are different sizes. It also doesn't seem to be available in Canada! (It isn't on the thermos canada website.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:08 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:52 am
Posts: 214
In my Koren knock-off, you can't mix hot and cold within the thermos part, but there is a small snack container that fits in the bag on top of the thermos and is separate. I put cold things in there with no problems :) Often, that is my annoyance with that particular thermos, that the middle container is sometimes hard to fill because it has to be hot (or neutral) so te soup doesn't get ruined. If I have more mixed things, I use one of my other sets and pack everything cold, then microwave it when I eat.

_________________
Asthma and eczema
Drug allergy (succinylcholine)
Food (corn, raw apples, green beans, tree nuts, flax)
Misc (pollen, grass, mold, dogs, cats)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
Yes to the Zo only being able to be hot OR cold. The bottom two containers of the Mr. Bento can be hot or cold, and then the top two containers aren't insulated.. so if you've got soup on the bottom I wouldn't want to put yogurt on the top, but you could do crackers or veggies.

_________________
ana to peanuts, nuts, eggs, shellfish, bananas
mild asthma and eczema, seasonal allergies


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