The Lunchbox Renaissance

h_100137-001Bringing leftovers to work used to be a dull nod to a frugal lifestyle, with lunch options that generally left us with a choice of bologna sandwich or day-old wilted salad.  But fortunately for those office workers that are comfortable planning and preparing some of the extensive choices of robust meal options, the lunchbox gear has become much more cool.

A good example is the Japanese-styled bento box.  A far cry from the sweating Tupperware container or a cheap soft-side cooler, when the noon office meal is packed in one of these single-portion modern boxes, the packed lunch becomes reason for lunch envy from your office mates.

From its humble beginnings, appearing in the 16th century to feed people under military commander Oda Nobunaga, it has taken many forms today from the simple to the complex – sometimes even taking the shape of comic book characters or flowers, animals and plants.  But regardless of what design it takes, it never strays too far from its origins of ease and convenience.  In fact, “Bento” is derived from the Southern Song Dynasty term biàndāng, meaning convenient.

Corporate wellness programs can benefit from incorporating a branded bento box, or similar cleverly styled lunch container, into the mix.  Employees and customers will be inspired to cook a little extra the night before to eat better the next day, all while saving the time and money it takes to buy lunch from the nearby sandwich vendor.