Why Bento?

Over the past year, many people have asked me why I bring this funny little Tupperware thing full of food with me. What are my reasons, and why should it appeal to anyone else? Weeaboos aside, of course. Well, I could list reasons until my tongue swelled up like a meaty fist and my lungs collapsed, but I wouldn’t be able to convince someone who wasn’t interested to begin with. However, if you’ve found yourself intrigued by bento, I can convince you to try it out. Maybe.

Why Bento for Yourself:

All told, bringing your own lunch can be much better for you, physically and mentally. You know what’s in it, for one thing. No mystery meat sandwiches and soggy vegetables from the lunch line on campus. No candy and chips out of a vending machine at work. No fast food that seeps grease onto your good pants, and you can’t get that shit out. You’ve tried.

Perhaps best of all, you get to eat what you want to eat for lunch. You don’t rely on menus, or what you can scrimp together enough pocket change for. Want Chinese for lunch? Google a couple recipes and throw some together. No huge hassle, just prepare the food the night before and warm it up before packing it the next morning.

You’ll most likely find yourself eating better when you bring a bento box. They may look small, but they can hold just enough for a decent meal. You may be saying “Meal? That tiny thing? Unpossible!” but I assure you that it’s true. The huge portions presented to us at restaurants and cafeterias are just too much. No, really. It’s a ton of cheap filler food. The standard serving of macaroni and cheese at my college dining hall is one and a half cups. One and a half cups of macaroni and cheese. And they nestle that lovingly beside six chopped and formed chicken nuggets deep-fried in oil. Vegetables? Well, you can get the warmed over canned pees, the sugar-soaked yams slices (also canned), or the fried okra.

Tell me: Would you eat that crap if you could bring your own food? Would you eat that if you knew you had the choice not to? If you’d still eat it, you’re going to be on your way to the Brookhaven Obesity Clinic before you hit forty. Seriously, people, consider your eating habits. Think about why you eat all the garbage you do, and ask yourself if you’d like to change that.

Why Bento for Your Spawn:

Let’s face it: lunches in public schools and many private schools are utter garbage. Fried, refried, sugar-coated trash heaped onto little red trays. Most if not all food is processed, and rich in preservative and artificial sweeteners. Most schools do nothing to remedy this nutritional clusterfuck, other than replacing the Coca Cola vending machines with Powerade vending machines.

Kids today eat crap. All day, every day, they eat crap. They eat Pop Tarts for breakfast, then ride the bus to school and guzzle soda between classes until they go to lunch and wolf down fried mystery meat patties and oily vegetables. When they come home, they grab a bag of chips and plop down to watch TV, play video games, or do homework. Oh, and a soda, too.

The nation’s kids are being lovingly raised into fat fucks. Not only that, but a lot of fat, rich fucks are getting fatter and richer off of it. However, that’s a whole new page I need to write.

Want to keep little Timmy, or Alba, or Clayton, or whatever people are naming their kids these days out of Heart Surgery Town? Start him early on lunches that you make for him. Make them with love, make them colorful and attractive, and make them out of things he’ll eat. Hell, even put one thing he might not like in there.

Kids love colorful, tasty foods. They’re more likely to eat colorful, attractive foods. It’s an evolutionary holdover from when we still saw vegetables and fruits before they’d been boiled grey, and brightly-colored Raspberry Zingers were unheard of. A smushed sandwich in a bag isn’t attractive or colorful. That candy bar in the bright wrapper? That is. And my, oh my, those meat patties are stamped into the shape of dinosaurs.

A sandwich in a bag has too much strong competition from food that looks good. And it’s not even a very good meal.

Why Bento for Your Planet:

A sandwich in a bag produces more waste than you’d think. First, we have the bag itself. Paper, plastic, whatever. Then there’s the matter of the plastic or wax paper wrapping around the sandwich. A bottle or a can for your vending machine drink. Hell, maybe you even throw the sandwich away. That adds up if lots of people bring bagged sandwiches.

Bento, on the other hand, produces little or no waste. The boxes are reusable and washable. If you play your cards right, the same can be said for any dividers, bottles, or cups you use. Overall, a bento lunch produces far less garbage and holds much better food.

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7 Comments

  1. […] Why Bento? […]

  2. Thanks for writing this. šŸ™‚ That is freakin beautiful and SO true. I can’t believe how much left-over food I’ve thrown away before I started making bento in the past. Now I save money from not eating out, and there’s no wasted food from the day before’s dinner.

    And yeah… it’s hilarious how some people will ask WHY you do it.

  3. And don’t forget, it’s cheaper in the long run. šŸ™‚

  4. People tell me I have too much time on my hands. I disagree. I just have a different set of priorities that include spending 10-15 minutes making myself something resembling real food and you know, though it’s slow going, I believe I HAVE been losing weight (I’ve been bento-ing for 2.5 months now). It’s a great concept I think and it makes me feel good to know I’ve got something yum waiting for me, no leaving it up to chance. And making it cute really does make me feel good- loved, even if it’s by me- and just overall better. Even if I stick semi-unhealthy food in there, haha, at least I made it. I feel uncomfortable when I skip bento- I “let” myself go bento-less once a week so I can go out to eat with friends if they want, but if I stay in at work and eat food from the cafeteria, I seriously feel bad about myself. Ah well. Great article šŸ™‚

  5. I agree with what you say; and you say it in such a way – hilarous! Thank you!

  6. You have a great blog… I’m just learning about bento and I’m going to keep coming back to read more.

  7. I agree with most of your sentiments; not all cafeterias are equal, though. The college I’m at has a pretty good one. They offer vegetarian and vegan choices, offer delicious, variable-ridden salad bars, post little signs above almost all of the foods listing the nutritional value stuff as well as a typical serving size (a 3 oz “spoodle”, about 1/3 of a US cup), and they have good ol’ cold cereal all the freaking time.
    Most dining halls, if you have a meal plan and wish to avoid grocery trips, will offer a “take away lunch” situation. You sign a leetle agreement (no sensitive information, of course) and mark some boxes with what you want for lunch, and they make it and stick it into a brown bag for you. You can schlep it all into a bento-esque container (I use a $1 Rubbermaid thing) and recycle the bags and stuff. I think it’s a pretty sweet deal, especially because you can make it as healthy as you want. I have a roast beef, lettuce, tomato and cuke sandwich on whole grain bread (no sauces) with carrot sticks and whatever the cookie du jour is.
    I’ve been trying to get my sister to do the lunching thing, as well, because mis padres need to save some monies. The cost of her school lunches, for a single month, cost around $45. My brother’s lunches total around $56. That’s about $100 a month for LUNCHES for TWO PEOPLE, FIVE DAYS OF THE FREAKING WEEK. I could use that for groceries for myself and my roommate, for all of our meals, for most (if not all) of that month. Down with the school lunch system! Blood sucking anus dwellers….grumblegrumblegrumble…


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