This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.
As a kid, I never really had a lunchbox. My lunches were either packed in a brown paper bag or the many plastic shopping bags we had around the house. When I was older, I decided to get myself the perfect lunch box. And not one of those basic lunch bags or Tupperware containers—I wanted a bento box, which has been trending on TikTok and Instagram recently.
MINISO Single Layer Bento Box
Can fit a lot of food
Perfect for traveling
Divider separates food
Not dishwasher or oven safe
Trending content on social media is not the thing that influenced me to purchase a bento box, but rather all of the animes I used to watch in my 20s. I loved how the characters on the shows had traditional Japanese food, and the boxes were so cute and easily fit into a tote bag or backpack.
I wanted to pack my meals and snacks for long train trips, or when I was out sightseeing so I wouldn’t spend money on food.
Bento boxes have a history that dates back to the 12th century during the Kamakura period in Japan. They were revamped during the Edo Period (1603-1867) when it was fashionable to carry a meal while traveling or sightseeing. The meals usually consisted of onigiri—rice balls or some other rice-based meals—with meat, fish, and veggies. These days, modern bento boxes range from traditional lacquered cypress wood to aluminum, or plastic. Many come with extra compartments for ice or hot water to keep the meal hot or cold as well as their own cutlery.
I finally pulled the trigger and purchased myself a bento box when I was traveling last summer throughout Europe. I wanted to pack my meals and snacks for long train trips, or when I was out sightseeing so I wouldn’t spend money on food.
I use my bento box for everything, and I mean everything from storing leftovers in the fridge to using it as a fruit bowl on my counter for lemons and limes.
There are many bento boxes to choose from, but I decided to get the Miniso Bento Box in blue because well, blue is my favorite color. It's a small single-layer box but can fit a lot. I can add one big meal or use the separator to divide my meal. I was able to fit a large quantity of my go-to lunch of canned tuna mixed with rice into this box. And when divided, I can fit noodles on one side and cucumbers, avocado, and spinach on the other. It has a rubber cover to keep the food from spilling out and is microwavable. Some people might find a hitch in that it’s not dishwasher friendly, but I’ve found it’s easy to clean with soap and water, dry, and voilà, your bento box is ready for its next usage.
I use my bento box for everything, and I mean everything from storing leftovers in the fridge to using it as a fruit bowl on my counter for lemons and limes. When my pantry is too full and needs to be reorganized, my bento box can hold my spices, dry beans, or nuts. To me when a meal is not in it, I’m still going to use it for something. I’ve even used it to make large slabs of ice—as proper ice trays are hard to find in Berlin.
I’ve even used it to make large slabs of ice—as proper ice trays are hard to find in Berlin.
The one drawback to me is the shape. The rectangle shape is fairly bulky and takes up loads of room in my tote bag. There are circular shapes, however, that take up less room. There are also styles with two layers so you could pack even more food, and I’ve got my eye on those for next time. But for now, I’m very happy with my Miniso Bento Box, I only wish it didn’t take me so long to buy one in the first place.
Dimensions: 19cm x 11.5 x 6.4 | Material: Food-grade plastic | Capacity: 850ml (3.5+ cups)
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Yolanda Evans is a freelance writer with more than 12 years of experience covering dining, cocktails, travel, and lifestyle. Her work has appeared in Afar, Here Magazine, Washington Post, Imbibe, VinepairShondaland, Zora, Food 52, Food & Wine, Punch, Travel + Leisure, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, Thrillist, Eater LA, and Architectural Digest. She's also won the 2022 IACP Narrative Beverage Writing.