Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Bento Face-Off

This week, I got a little crazy with my bento lunches. After enjoying the revival of my long languishing Laptop Lunch box, I decided to set up an experiment. A lunch packing experiment, that is!

Here's what I did. I made lunch -- twice. The first day, I packed the lunch in my Mr. Bento. On the following day, I packed an identical meal into the Laptop Lunch box. I wanted to see which was more efficient at this particular form of lunch. I already know, for example, that the Laptop Lunch box is better for packing sandwiches and wraps as the shape of the Mr. Bento is simply not suited to such items. What about something like this meal, though? Neither box seems particularly suited to the shapes and consistencies of the lunch items. And so my experiment began!

The meal itself was wonderful: nutritious, filling,and 100% satisfying. I had no trouble eating the same exact meal two days in a row! I started with a salad consisting of romaine, mushrooms, broccoli, and purple grapes, topped with Berry Delight dressing (the Bountifuls salad dressings are quite extraordinary -- they include chunks of fruits and veggies right in the bottle). I also mixed up some black and refried beans with fat-free quark and mango-peach salsa. I sliced up some carrots to dip in a quarter-cup of hummus, and rounded the meal off with five wheat Melba Toast crackers. Delectable!

It's difficult to say which bento box best contained this meal. I prefer Mr. Bento with its separate sealed containers, ensuring that none of the different "courses" get mixed together. Also, since Mr. Bento is insulated, it kept the lunch (especially the veggies) cool and fresh for a longer time. However, the round containers didn't lend themselves to the long crackers, and meant that I had to cut my carrots into smaller chunks. The Laptop Lunch was most accomodating in terms of container shape, but again I did not like having to worry that sweat from the beans might mix in with the hummus. The one sealed Laptop Lunch container (which I put my salad in this time around) doesn't seem foolproof in terms of said sealant and I often have salad dressing leaking into other compartments. The same is true for the mini dressing container, which I did not use in this particular lunch.

If I absolutely have to pick a winner, Mr. Bento is the victor. Although his cylindrical containers are not ideal for long crackers and carrot sticks, I don't mind trading that slight inconvenience for the separate sealing compartments. The improved insulation of Mr. Bento also is great for when a refrigerator isn't available to keep my food fresh through the morning. Let's hear it for Mr. B.! To be fair, however, if I had chosen a hummus wrap for this meal, the Laptop Lunch would have won hands down.

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