the bento packing, lunch cooking, photo taking, dog loving blog

I Am Worth It: Grownup Reasons to Bento (#1)

This week on Not Exactly Bento, I’m talking about my Top 5 Reasons why Grownups should Bento. Packing a meal for yourself when you’re on the go, busy, or just because is a wonderful way to meet personal health goals and do something special for yourself.  Join me this week as I talk about the top 5 reasons why I think you should bento.  Each post will feature pictures of bentos, past and present, to show readers how skill level doesn’t matter when packing lunch for yourself. Feedback on why you bento and what works for you is always welcome.

Pork chop with brussel sprouts and sides

Pork Chop bento from July 2011

Bringing a lunch to work packed in a bento style can elicit a variety of comments around the work lunch table.

  • Why do you pack your lunch that way?
  • Your lunch looks so organized.  Doesn’t that take a long time?
  • You must pack for portion control, right?
  • I could never do that.  It looks too difficult.
  • That looks so complicated.
  • Why do you waste time with that?
  • Well that’s interesting… (followed by the “You’re weird.” stare)
  • Your lunch is *so cute*!
  • Wow, your lunch looks so much better than mine. (my favorite comment obviously!)

I will admit when I first started to pack lunch this way, it was a bit disconcerting to be told some of these things.  These days, I don’t much care because packing a lunch for myself isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of my world.  And I’ve developed my favorite answer (and one of the most honest too) for these questions: “I hate to wash dishes.  This means less dishes to wash.”  It tends to elicit a laugh, because most people agree with me.

But truly, my most serious reason for packing bento for myself is the most important: “I am worth it!”

I am worth the time and the thought it takes it takes to pack a lunch for myself.  It is the single most important reason to grasp when you bento for yourself and one that I wonder if people consider as they make a conscious choice to stop eating out and pack a meal for themselves.

* I Am Worth It *
Butternut Squash and Sausage Bento

Butternut Squash and Sausage Bento from November 2007

Bento takes time, no matter the type of packing you’re doing.

Whether it’s 15 minutes to pack everything in neatly or hours to create a charaben, bento takes time. There are a dozen other things I can always find to do with that time. Or things that I won’t be able to complete because I took the time to pack a lunch.

I don’t pack fancy.  I consider how I pack pretty plain.  If I take out all the picture taking time, packing my bento with leftovers takes, at most, 10-15 minutes. But that 10-15 minutes is time I’m not spending on something else.

My biggest downfall is telling myself, “I’m too busy today,” as I rush out the door, promising I’ll get something healthy for lunch in an area where healthy lunch options aren’t abundant. And I regret it every single time, and spend that time wishing I had one of my packed lunches instead.

The bento I bring for myself each day makes me smile.  It is a small break in my day to take 20 minutes to breathe easy, refocus, and re-energize for the remainder of my day.  That packed lunch is an important part of my work day.  It brings back my calm, my sanity, and my desire to tackle the rest of my day.

The changes I make to my overall schedule to have the time to bento is worth the benefit.  I am worth it!

Regardless of where you’re eating your bento, you are worth it.  Pack a meal for yourself for work, whether you’re in an office or at home (because if you’re at home raising kids that’s work! My hat is off to you!). You’re worth the time it takes to make something for yourself.

“I Am Worth It!” Repeat it like a mantra as you pack your bento box each day.

And if you need to tell yourself that you do it so you can wash less dishes, feel free to steal my excuse. ;) Because it is true.

Be the bento everyone!

Bento lunches shown in this post: Bento 371 & Bento 43


  1. nicole says:

    great, great, great! I’ve never thought about this – I AM WORTH IT!
    nicole recently posted..Egg Salad & Carrot Cake Cupcake BentoMy Profile

  2. miss mochi says:

    I like it! In the past, one of my coworkers have asked why my bento doesn’t have any cartoon characters or smiley faces! I had to explain I pack a bento because it’s cheaper and healthier than going out, and I’m not packing it for a child, it’s for me to eat! Not that I don’t try to make it esthetically pleasing, but seriously!
    miss mochi recently posted..Dorie’s Dimply Plum CakeMy Profile

    • Jenn says:

      I knew I wasn’t the only one who sometimes hears interesting lunch time comments. There are some amazing bento artisans out there that do that for themselves as adults. I have no talent like that!

      Plus, if I did, I’m not sure I could eat it afterwards. I don’t think I’d want to destroy my work by eating it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. susan says:

    I’m on a meatlof bento lunch today packed in my 3 piece l+l set. Mashed potato in 1 box, steamed veggies in another and my meatloaf in the last. Packed bento style as I have to re-heat the parts of my lunch seperately so they are all piping hot, perfect reason to bento ;)
    susan recently posted..Meatloaf!My Profile

    • Jenn says:

      I saw you made meatloaf. I’m so excited that the little one ate it too. :) Sounds to me like you have a great bento today. Now I’m jealous. Hehehehehe.

  4. Bentolily says:

    The best lunch time comment I ever had: “Oh, that looks like airplane food.”
    Answer: “Yes, exactly – but this one tastes good.”
    I didn’t care about the stunning face of my coworke … That poor guy always had leftovers from the day-before meal of his small children ;-)
    My hubs would request to divorce for that instead of Bento…
    BTW: we aren’t japanese ;-)

  5. Yvo says:

    I found myself nodding along at every word. Totally agree. That was one of the things I found myself doing, though I didn’t form the words “I am worth it” while doing it – but those 15 minutes in the morning to pack myself lunch were sort of sanctuary (especially when I first started). A tranquil place that I purposely made time for, prioritized myself and my own meal time… it definitely helped all those years ago. Great post and fantastic reason.
    Yvo recently posted..CONTEST: Join me at the NYCWFF’s Burger Bash!My Profile

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