That's right. I'm having a lusty affair with a new mister. He's tough, tasteful, and boasts a barrel chest. He keeps his cool or stays hot as the circumstances dictates. He likes to go out, and is very accommodating. What's his name? Mr. Bento!
Although my original bento lunchbox is adorable and fantastically pink, it's just not large enough to contain a fully nutritious meal without having to carry around other packaged foods like yogurt cups. It was becoming a pain, and seemed inefficient. But what to replace my plucky pink bento box with?
I had my eye on both the Mr. Bento from Zojirushi and the Laptop Lunch from Obentec, but I couldn't decide between the two. They both have good merit for different types of meals. Two of Mr. Bento's four jars are insulated, for example, retaining both heat and cold for up to six hours, and one of those jars is vacuumed sealed, making it perfect for soups and stews. This cylindrical jar, with its sealed, stacking containers, is also more space efficient, especially for transporting in my backpack as I bike to and from work.
The Laptop Lunch box, on the other hand, is flatter in shape, with four removeable containers of various sizes in addition to a fifth lidded sauce container. One of the four larger containers is also lidded, which is ideal for sloppier items like salad. The Laptop Lunch also seems well-suited for flat items like sandwiches, wraps, and quesadillas, and the removeable inner containers makes it more versatile as you can simply take out a couple (or even all) of the containers and fill in the main box with salad, sandwiches, and other items that don't fit well into a tray.
It was a difficult choice. Both boxes come with a bag (Mr. Bento with a canvas shoulder sling bag, and the Laptop Lunch with an insulated bag complete with a water bottle and strap) and utensils (a spork for Mr. Bento, and a fork and a spoon for the other). Which to choose? I agonized, and I lusted, poring over the boxes' respective websites, user reviews, and Flickr photo groups.
In the end, I got both. Frivolous, perhaps, but well worth it, in my opinion. I have already made several lunches in both boxes, and am so glad I have the flexibility of the two packing systems. Plus, I'll (presumably) get years of use out of both boxes, and if not then I already have a back-up in place. And since I seem to be developing something of a bento box fetish, it just seemed to make sense.
I suppose the question now becomes, which is my favorite of the two? In all honesty, I don't think I could choose. Not at this early stage of a stage in our relationships, at least. As I already stated, the two lunch packing systems are unique and seem particularly suited to a particular type of meal. So far I have used my snazzy Laptop Lunch box for spinach and mozzarella frittatas with garlic toast, and for various wraps, such as soy turkey with barbeque saurce as well as ricotta with roasted red peppers. Mr. Bento has so far carried different black bean salad creations as well as one of my new favorite dishes, farmer's market beets roasted in balsamic and garlic. So far, I love them both! I can't wait for the tasty lunchtime adventures we will share in the future.