Maybe I should have titled this: What I spent my money on since I started blogging about my lunches!
Be warned, this is a long post…
As I wrote in an earlier post, I sort of got “sucked” into the whole bento/dosirak addiction and spent a fortune on bento boxes and other accessories. I’m not even going to show you a picture of the number of lunch boxes I currently have, but trust me, I could probably pack 3 weeks of lunches and use a different box every day! Writing it down seems even worse than seeing them on my cupboard shelf…
Even with that high number of boxes, I tend to use the same ones over and over again, mainly because they are the right size (for me, but I’m a bit greedy…), are leak proof and/or transport friendly, come with chopsticks/containers/dividers and can go in the dishwasher :-). You will have seen these appearing regularly on my blog.
What I do want to show (off) in this post is my growing collection of accessories that I use to “cute up” my lunch. Some are quite bento specific, and bought mainly at Bento and Co, CasaBento, and Japan Centre, but I also found some in cookery shops (think small biscuit cutters), high street shops or supermarkets (like the silicone cupcake molds).
First up: chopsticks
Chopsticks are not really necessary to “cute” up your lunch, but you will probably want some if you’re packing rice based lunches! Some of the above came with bento boxes like the little black box with grey “collapsible” chopsticks, others were bought or given to me (the cute strawberry ones). The very long ones with red ends are used for cooking, and the metal ones are Korean.
I tend to use the Korean and the plain brown ones a lot when packing my lunches in the morning (have multiple sets of these), as I try to handle the food as little as possible with my fingers (food safety and such…). My favourite set to take with me for lunch is the Totoro one, not only is this set cute – and has both chopsticks and spoon – but the container has some sort of strip to hold them in place, which means they won’t rattle or make noise whilst carrying around.
I don’t use chopsticks rests when taking a lunch with me, only at home. Unfortunately it’s quite hard to find pretty ones here in the UK, unless very expensive (because imported).
Next up: food picks, cutters, soy sauce bottles / containers and more
Wow, it looks like a lot! Well, it is a lot :-). Just find it hard to resist cute stuff… The pipettes/tiny funnel I use to fill the soy sauce bottles. Metal cutters are great for cutting vegetables like carrots, and the plastic ones are better for softer ingredients, like cheese, ham or egg sheets. You can use them for carrots but I would advise cooking the carrot briefly first. Otherwise you will end up with very sore thumbs pressing down….
The elastic bands are to keep bento box and lid tightly together. I love the 3 animal containers (left bottom picture) but now realise I actually don’t use them a lot.
Another box full of stuff: nori punchers and egg molds
Some of these are actually paper cutters, but they do the job :-). I have been slightly disappointed by the quality of some of the Japanese nori punchers, they don’t seem to be very sharp. I read somewhere you can sharpen them by punching through foil, will have to try that out.
This box also holds some onigiri shapers and other stuff too large for others boxes, like the chick furikake container, and egg molds. Egg molds are very easy to use and a great way to add some creativity to your packed lunch. My Hello Kitty egg mold is not being shown here, as it’s currently in use (shaping my egg in the fridge).
More (yes, there is more) stuff:
Sushi mats (bamboo and silicone, more disposable chopsticks, rice paddles and more egg molds. These are for use with quail eggs, but I guess that Japanese quails must lay smaller eggs than UK quails… The ones I buy are always too large so I often end up with “exploded” eggs… >.<
And last photo: silicone containers, more accessories and tools
Silicone containers are ideal for separating food in your lunch box and packing it tightly. As you can see I have quite a lot! The little flower and bear are used to shape rice, and there are also more (o)nigiri shapers and sauce containers.
I use the clips and mat when I cut out nori details with my sharp X-acto-knife. The syringes are also used for filling soy sauce bottles. Sharp scissors, straws (great for cutting out little details out of egg sheets), lots of pincers to handle small nori bits and finally food dividers.
Pfff…..so that’s where my money went! ;-)
When packing my lunch in the morning I tend to quickly grab the two boxes in the top and bottom picture, as these hold the easiest, and most used accessories. I have the boxes open on my counter while packing my ingredients and just grab what I need.
Packing a (basic) lunch will take me about 15-20 minutes at most, including adding “cute” food picks. But creative ones can take up to an hour or even longer!