Sometimes people ask me to give them a list of things they should buy as a bento starter kit. I never know what to say, since I’m not an expert in all the bento equipment out there, nor am I interested in amassing vast amounts of kit.
So instead, I provide a list of items I own so that they can use my list to create their own.
Note: This bento kit is used to pack lunches for two adults.
Update: I wrote a guide to choosing a bento box, in case the ones I’ve listed below don’t really work for you.
What to Buy
Concorde XL Bento Box ($32). I have two of these. They hold 900ml in two tiers and they are dishwasher and microwave safe (lids excluded). I use these boxes when I’m packing bulkier meals. They come with a band and a cloth bag in which to carry them.
Unit Colors Bento Box ($25). I have two of these as well. They hold 650ml in two tiers and are dishwasher and microwave safe (lids excluded). Since their lids are more secure than the Concorde boxes, these are my boxes of choice when I’m packing wetter foods like curry. (The lids are not watertight; I wouldn’t pack soup in these boxes.) I really like the overall presentation of these boxes.
Sauce Pigs ($4 for a set of 6). I love using these sauce pigs even for more viscous sauces like caesar dressing, but I’m not the one who has to clean them.
Sauce Containers ($3 for a set of 4). These sauce containers are pretty tiny, but are a better bet for dipping sauces and the like. Not watertight.
Geometric Obento Cups ($2.54 for a set of 4). I have a couple of sets of these, and they’re pretty useful when I want to pack a small amount of food that needs to be kept separate from other things.
Square Silicone Muffin Cups ($10 for a set of 12). These are my go-to choice for packing side dishes and snacks like yogurts.
Silicone Mini-Muffin Cups($8 for a set of 12). I use these when I’m packing stuff into the Unit Colors bento boxes, since the larger muffin cups don’t fit in there.
Stainless Steel Vegetable Cutters ($7 for a set of 6). These are purely for fun. I enjoy using these to create garnishes. They hold up well to use, and can be used to easily cut through harder vegetables like carrots.
Where to Buy It
I bought most of my bento kit from Casabento. (If the site doesn’t show up in English, look over to the top right hand corner, and make sure you click on the British flag, and then on the $ icon.)
I was frustrated by the lack of variety that I found at most US retailers, and I’d spend a little more money on something well-made than something cute but flimsy. The items from Casabento ship from France and shipping seems to be a flat rate of about $18, with no hassles from customs or anything. I’ve ordered from them twice, and both times my order was in my hands about 10 days after I placed it. I cannot recommend ordering from them enough.
My muffin cups came from Amazon, which also sells some other bento gear. (I didn’t care for any of their bento boxes, but it’s a matter of personal taste.)
Should you Buy It?
Maybe. If you have the cash on hand and nothing better to do with it, go right ahead.
That said, please don’t let the presence of this list convince you that you need to buy even a single item on here before you can start making bentos. When I started, I used snapware that I already owned, household foil, and lettuce to take care of making containers and dividers for my bentos. It took quite a while before I decided to spend money on my bento kit.
Making bentos is like most hobbies in that you can spend as much or as little as you want to. Retailers are happy to give you the idea that if only you had _________, you’d be that much better at the hobby. In my experience, I have rarely found this to be true.