Since I am eating yet another salad today, I figured I’d spare you the boring details of another identical lunch and write a review about my favorite bento boxes!
As you may have noticed the bento boxes I use most frequently are Monbento boxes. I love how they have. for the most part, a standard size and accessories. Anything you buy from the company will fit in their boxes.
They are machine dishwasher safe although I haven’t had the opportunity to use them in one, namely because the only dishwashers in my house are humans. Hand-washing only here!
My favorite thing about the Monbento boxes are the little vents to let steam out when microwaving food(I love that they’re microwavable). Sadly, there is a time limit on how long you can nuke them at a time, but I don’t let my boxes go anywhere near that time. The microwave at work acts up occasionally and will run really hot causing something very scary with my lids, curling them up back off the box. I invariably have a small panic attack as I rush the box and lid back to the break room and put the big heavy lid on the layer and use the band to clamp it flat until it cools which takes only a minute or two. Using this technique my lids ALWAYS return back to their flat position. If your microwave isn’t old you shouldn’t have this problem, and in fact I don’t ever have this issue with the microwave in my dorm-room*, just the one at work. The magic number for me is about 75 seconds and if it needs more I’ll do batches of 20-30 seconds until everything is heated, so long as the lid doesn’t have issues.
They have a really nice “soft touch” feeling, like a soft rubber almost, on the outside of the box which feels really nice on my fingertips but with time and use, especially if you don’t put your box in a bento bag, it will tear it up and wear off in places. It doesn’t affect the box’s functionality.
This box is really nice for two meals or a meal and a couple of snacks. You can fit a full cupcake liner in here, although I haven’t tried a standard silicone cupcake liner, only my miniature and heart shaped ones. Each tier is 500 mL and when packing using the 1/2, 1/4, 1/4 rule, each layer holds close to 500 calories. To me, that is the appropriate size of a meal. If I’m going to work and I know I’m going to eat out for dinner I try to take two tiers, one clean to put leftovers in and the other full of my lunch for work. I don’t like washing the Monbento at work because the gasket on the lids are hard to dry thoroughly with a paper towel. I prefer to let them air-dry.
These boxes come clean very easily although I have heard about the lighter colors staining easily, so I’ve taken great care to not put anything that can stain in the green and white bento. I did put leftover curry from the local Vietnamese restaurant in my black Monbento and a little bit got on the outside, giving it a strange stain. It’s worn off but it took several months of lots of use and washing. The inside didn’t stain at all but the soft coating on the outside is what held onto it. I would recommend the black one if you do eat a lot of staining foods like carrots, curries and staining berries.
If you lose things easily, be careful with the strap. Both of my boxes hold together fine with the heavy lid, the small lid with the vent plug and the container body if you don’t have the strap but if you use two tiers, it’s going to separate. Also, if you have a bag that isn’t very structured(like a hobo styled purse) it could come apart in there. I would also recommend investing in at least a standard bento band for smaller bentos(for ones about 500-600 ml) for the days you pack only one tier.
I would also not tote anything liquid in these. My bento bag has a stain on it from something that I’m not sure of what it’s from, but it’s not waterproof, more water resistant than anything. I am glad for my bento bag, however. It must have sucked up all the staining culprit because aside from the purple ink stain(not bento related) I didn’t see any staining in my purse.
As for the cutlery, I use Sistema’s Cutlery To Go in it, storing it between the uppermost tier and the big heavy lid. I pack the tools I want to use for the day in there, and everything but the chopsticks “mode” fit pre-assembled. I haven’t bought any of the Monbento cutlery because I don’t like how they look in the photos and since I already had that one Sistema set that I loved and used all the time, I just kept using what I had. The work just fine with it, and I’ve bought more sets out of fear of losing pieces, but that’s a review for a different day.
*It’s not actually a dorm room, it’s technically my bedroom but I pay my folks rent and have to keep ALL my stuff in my room. Plus I need a clean microwave, hence my own in my room. It’s basically a dorm room without a room mate.