Since Faith has pizza day at school and I've been meaning to post this for awhile, it seems like the perfect day for a picture post of bentos from non-bento sources.
Faith & Ben & I went off to see about bento supplies from non-specialty stores. Basically, if we had to buy it at Minoya, Mei Hua or Asian World Market, it couldn't count. We also ruled out anything we bought on Ebay and specialty items that aren't normal stock (like the Hello Kitty boxes at the Dollar Trees). Bonus points were added if said items were cheap and readily available.
My first choice of non-official bento boxes - a Lock&Lock 4 compartment container. The four mini containers come out, which is quite useful, imho. This set us back $3.49 at Target.
A distant second was Lock&Lock style container. Unfortunately, it has no internal dividers, but that can likely be worked around. This was $1 at the Dollar Tree.
OK, this was just too cool not to buy! It is an insulated bowl with it's very own collapsible spoon. The bottom of the bowl (to the bottom right) is the insulated part. The left part screws onto the bottom and holds the spoon plus has more space for dry foods. The top screws to the middle and seals the whole thing. And the top looked like a face, so more bonus points for cute. This was also $1 at the Dollar Tree.
Silicone muffin cups work so well for semi-wet foods (assuming of course the box stays right side up!). The upside, they are washable and reusable, they keep their shape well and work to act as dividers in non-divided boxes. The downside, they aren't cheap. Per my mom and some other online sources, some of the dollar stores in Canada seem to sell 4-packs for $1. I haven't found them here. These were 12 for $10 at Joann's or Michael's. However, a 40% off coupon brought them to $6 and it's not like I'm ever going to have to buy them again.
Fruit picks are cute and handy for kebabs. Our regular ones are Chinese Zodiac picks from a specialty store, so we had to find something else. Tada, multi-colored but plain, and they have a kind of cool fork effect at the bottom; they are also washable & reusable. For 75 of them, $1 at the Dollar Tree.
Wilton also makes cupcake message picks that look really cute. However, the Joann's I went to was out. They appear to sell for $2 for 12 picks - link.
Tons of stores sell cookie cutters, so those shouldn't be too hard to find. They are rather useful for cutting sandwiches & fruit/veggies. This was another dollar store find. We got 5 cutters plus some mini-shapes and numbers for $1 at the Dollar Tree. And as a bonus, two packs of playdoh. ;o)
I am not sure what I am going to do with these. They are mini silicone baking molds. I think I'm going to make the kids banana bread in them. They are about the size of my hand and came in a variety of shapes. Faith picked the heart and Ben picked the bear, so for $1 each, I gave in and bought them. :o)
So in summary, 3-4 common stores (maybe less if you can eliminate some accessories), no specialty stores or items, and I don't think we spent more than $15.