Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti Mepal

Hi everyone! I am still in hospital, but am feeling a lot better and spending most of my day sitting up instead of lying like a sad floppy seal in bed. And most of all, I have my laptop and internet access! I can’t post much in the way of bentos and recipes until I get out, but I do have some things that I was working on before I had to have my emergency surgery.

These days, there are some great dedicated sellers of Japanese bento boxes that can be relied upon to bring you the best of what is available in Japan (see the sidebar for some of the best, who are also smart enough to sponsor JustBento ^_^.) Still, I do like to keep an eye out for non-traditional containers that can be used very successfully as bento boxes. Here are three such boxes.

LunchBots stainless steel lunch boxes

If you are determined to avoid any kind of plastic or plastic-like material for your lunch containers, LunchBots may be for you. LunchBots is based in California; their lunch boxes are made of stainless steel, with enameled lids, and come in several sizes. They are totally plastic and silicone free. I have the Duo one, which has a non-removable divider in the middle.

lunchbots1.jpg

It holds about 650ml, so it’s a perfect size for a medium sized bento. The divider is pretty handy, and the box is dishwasher safe.

The LunchBots boxes do have a couple of things against them though in my opinion.Essentially they are sturdy stainless steel tins; the lids do fit tightly, but they are not leakproof since they lack any rubberized seals, so you can’t put anything that could leak inside them. Another strike against them is just a matter of aesthetics, but the box lids are color coded according to size and type, so if you want a certain box - say, the Duo, you are stuck with the lid it comes with even if you hate orange.

I do like stainless steel as a material for bento boxes though. I prefer my Aizawa Kobo stainless steel boxes that I talked about here, since they have silicone seals around the lids and clips to secure the lids onto the box body too. I like them so much that one is featured on the cover of my book! However, if you want to be totally plastic and silicone free, the LunchBots boxes are a good alternative.

LunchBots are available from Amazon.com as well as the LunchBots site itself, which also has a list of retailers in the U.S. and elsewhere.

(Update: A commenter noted that she had had trouble with the enamel on the lid of her LunchBots box chipping. A LunchBots representative contacted me to say that the chipping problem was a temporary manufacturing issue that occured some time in 2009, and had since been resolved. She also offered the commenter a replacement box. Anyone who is having trouble with their LunchBots box lids are advised to contact them at info (at) lunchbots dot com.)

Light My Fire

Light My Fire is a Swedish maker of stylish camping equipment. Their lunchbox is meant for use outdoors, but can be used as an unusual bento box too. The box body is grey, and the lid comes in 8 cool colors.

lightmyfire1.jpg

You can buy the box alone, the box with a spork, or a complete meal kit that comes with a cup with a lid attached with a plastic tie, a lidded container, a mini cutting board/strainer, and a spork. I got my set at a camping store when it was on sale.

lightmyfire2.jpg

I’ve already featured this box in several bentos here on the site, such as this Christmas themed one. The unusual shape lends itself to all kinds of ideas. It is on the big side, so it might be too substantial to pack with a traditional rice-based bento, but it’s ideal for holding a salad, a sandwich and fruit, and so on. The lid is not super-secure, so if you think you might tip the box over or something during transit, you might want to use it with the Harness that Light My Fire sells.

You can buy the Light My Fire lunch box from Amazon and at outdoor/sporting/camping stores. I’ve seen it sold in such stores in the U.S. as well as France and Switzerland.

Rosti Mepal

Rosti Mepal is a Dutch manufacturer of plastic cookware and household items. I first saw their TAB lunch boxes for sale in Japan, at Loft in Yokohama (see Where to buy bento boxes and accessories in Japan). I bought two of the medium size, in bright yellow and blue. They hold about 800 ml, so are a good size for salads and such or sandwich bentos.

mepal-rosti-tab.jpg

I haven’t used the whole box yet in a featured bento, but I did use the lid as a plate to hold the frittata here.

The thing I like best about the Rosti Mepal lunch box is the lid. It’s the most air-tight, leak proof lid of all the boxes I own. I can actually here that little ‘sigh’ when I open the lid, which indicates that there was an airtight seal. I can fill the box with water, put the lid on and turn it upside down, and it doesn’t leak.

At the moment I’m considering buying the very flat box. It was designed to hold up to 4 sandwiches apparently, and can fit vertically in a laptop bag. I don’t think I’m every hungry enough to need 4 sandwiches, but the flat shape is quite intriguing - I’d love to figure out how to pack things in it. The bright colors and the sleek, modern designs are quite appealing too.

Rosti Mepal is sold at department stores and kitchen/cookware supply stores in Europe. I am not sure if they have distribution in the U.S. - their website doesn’t tell you much - but I did locate an online seller in Germany that will ship worldwide.

Have you used any of these boxes? If you have, let us know what you think of them in the comments!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

17 comments

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Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

Love the Light My Fire one, looks perfect for my tween girl who still loves bentos but is outgrowing her Hello Kitty and Happy Lunchtime ones....

SO glad to hear you are doing better, get rest, eat healthy bento food, and we will wish for a fast recovery for you!! :-)

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

I bought a LunchBots container, and I'm sorry to say that I can't recommend it. Even though I followed the manufacturer's instructions to wash on the top shelf of the dishwasher, the paint is peeling off and ends up in my food (ick). I'm going to be returning it to the store where I bought it. Maybe they should have just gone with plain stainless steel instead of painting it...

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

Wow, I'm glad I'm not the only one who looks at a shaped container and wonders how to fill it. I did this once with a round flat tupperware. It's very practic to put food and snacks inside and they don't come out of place.

freddy wrote:

I bought a LunchBots container, and I'm sorry to say that I can't recommend it. Even though I followed the manufacturer's instructions to wash on the top shelf of the dishwasher, the paint is peeling off and ends up in my food (ick).

I was thinking of buying one of these but, humm, i guess not anymore? What other brands sell stainless steel boxes?

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

LunchBots saw this post and responded very quickly and I think, responsibly. See the update in the post. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend their boxes as a stainless steel alternative.

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

I have the spork, and it's the same green as in your photo! ^^ I'll have to get a matching lunchbox at some point.

Glad to hear you're doing well, get better soon!

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

Glad to hear that you are recovering well.
As it is, I'm now reading at work while munching on a bento that I made based on your recipes.

Thanks for the recommendation..
I like the Rosti Mepal boxes.
Will be heading to Tokyo in a couple of days, so will definitely head to the recommended places to get some nice bento boxes

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

Good to hear from you Maki, I hope you will have a quick recovery!

Being Dutch, I'm quit familiar with the mepal boxes. They're the most common ones here.

The positive side of the boxes is that they are very very strong, once you buy one, you have it for life.

What I do not ike about them is that they are really big, too big for kids (and that's what they are usually sold for, they come in all kinds of designs (like cows, cars, miffy...)and colours.
Beside that, they lack sophistication, beauty, glamour....well, actually everything that I'd want for a nice lunchbox. But maybe that's because they're so common here. I don't know.

The grey one on the photo holds much, much more than 800 mls. I bought one for my husband and even for him it's way too big. It can hold like 8 sandwiches, an apple an a couple of snacks on the side. You could use it for a picknick I guess..

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

The XL one is too big for a Japanese style bento for one, but the smaller one is a great size I think for someone with a hearty appetite.

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

It's great to hear from you. And get well soon Maki.
I love stainless steel lunch box and my mum bought me one when I was a kid. One of the weaknesses is not microwaveable and it is difficult to keep the food warm in cold weather.

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

speedy recovery! glad you have online access in hospital, it won't feel so tedious then! hope you are comfortable.

very interesting about the vertical lunchboxes. I'm really pleased with my Ojue Kyoto which I saw on here and got from Casa Bento. Its not leakproof though, and if you aren't doing rice based bentos, I can have trouble fitting it all in (was wondering if I eat too much at one point!), but the way it fits into even a slimline backpack is great! plus super stylish.

TAB LunchBox

Safe and Swift Recovery Maki!!

I have 3 of the TAB lunchboxes to send food out for my family. I do Love them with a few small problems. They seal wonderfully, are top rack dishwasher safe, even the seal comes out for a good scrubbing. I have had a latch break off one of the boxes. The good news is that I can still slip the latch over the clip-piece, and the box seals, but I worry that with a rough ride the latch might get bumped off. So I only use that one for things like car trips, rather than backpack trips.

We thought about the very flat one, but it was not for us for now. I think when we bought them, they were advertising using it for things like low-sauce pizzas and other flat foods.

Love the list Maki, keep it up, and feel better!!
~~Alie

Re: TAB LunchBox

I think you can buy replacement latches, seals and so on for the TAB boxes - the site I linked to above has them listed for sale.

Re: TAB LunchBox

I think you can buy replacement latches, seals and so on for the TAB boxes - the site I linked to above has them listed for sale.

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

Hi Maki,

happy to hear good news from you ^^ if you're in France, you must have tested (and approved (or not)) french hospital food :( which tastes usually awfull. I am sure you want your daily bento, but I'm not sure it's allowed ?
I don't know why but I do not trust stainless boxes; I may use too much micro-wave. The light my fire one looks nice ! It seems perfect for summer salad bento.
Rosti Mepal is also interesting if it's air-tight and leak-proof. And pretty deep, is seems.

Thanks for the news,

Liline (North of France, so please you all, excuse my mistakes :) )

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

Sorry to hear you are unwell. Best wishes on a speedy recovery.

Re: Lunchbot peeling lids

I have several lunchbots, and one of them is losing the paint on the lid. After seeing the link in your comments, I sent off an email. I quickly got a reply directing me to a form to fill out, and I just got my lids, less than 4 days later. Great company, great product. I'll be using them for years.

Re: Bento box spotlight: Light My Fire, LunchBots, Rosti ...

I bought the flat rosti container and i was using it to carry a sandwich and crackers for lunch. I went to use it the other morning though, and it had been melted in the dishwasher! Just a little bit on the corner, so now the top and bottom don't fit together anymore. I agree with the previous commenter, though, even in the flat size it is quite big. I might go back to plastic baggies, or try out the reusable lunchable bags, they don't take up so much space.

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