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Posted on Feb 22, 2009 in Decorative, Equipment, Review, SF Bay Area Local, Shopping | 16 comments

Silicone lunch accessories

Silicone lunch accessories

Silicone dividers for bento lunches

On my last trip to Ichiban Kan and Daiso discount stores, I picked up some cheap new silicone versions of bento accessories that actually make sense in silicone. I’ve started reaching for them recently in favor of standard paper or plastic ones as they’re reusable, flexible, dishwasher-friendly, and you can heat them up.

The first are silicone food dividers (baran) that separate different foods in a bento lunch, keeping flavors from mingling and keeping textures intact. They’re washable and reusable — I’ve had good results with putting them in a utensil basket in the dishwasher to keep them from flying around. (Time to update my bento care & maintenance post…) At US$1 for a pack of three (bears or grass versions available online), they’re still reasonable. I’ve also heard of people cutting up flexible cutting mats to use as dividers.

Small food dividers for bento lunches ("baran")Up to now I’ve been using edible dividers or lightweight plastic dividers (shown at right) that are meant to be disposable, but I wash and reuse them until they’re torn, worn or lost. The drawback with these is that they don’t do as well in the dishwasher, and they’re so flimsy that they do get torn and worn. They are adorable, though, so I’ll keep them in rotation to liven things up a little. (Read on for shaped silicone food cups…)

* * * * *

The other silicone bento accessories that I picked up are flexible food cups in different sizes and shapes (round, square, and triangular) that sit down inside of a larger bento lunch, containing food and keeping it away from other items. They’re good at temperatures from -40 deg. F (-40 deg. C) to 446 deg. F (230 deg. C), so they can be used in the freezer, microwave, and oven (but not in a toaster oven or frying pan). Their straight sides and heat resistance means you can make small batches of hot food in these and either pack right away, or freeze for later use. I got them for US$1.50 per pack at Daiso in Daly City.

Silicone food cups for bento lunches

These can take the place of paper baking cups, hard plastic food cups, or traditional silicone baking cups shaped for making muffins.

Silicone cupcake liners

The newer food cups are similar to the silicone baking cups above, but the shapes are different. The triangular and square food cups fit neatly into corners and along edges of rectangular bento boxes, and the straight sides may work better with some foods/boxes than the flared baking cups.

Reusable plastic food cups

Here are the hard plastic food cups in fun shapes that I’ve been using. These are great for little juice jello jigglers and room temperature food, but can’t be heated.

Extra-thick aluminum food cups for cooking

These extra-thick aluminum foil cups from Daiso are designed to cook food in; the drawback is that they’re disposable instead of reusable. Their advantage is that they can withstand really high heat, so you can put them right in a toaster oven or frying pan, which is not recommended with the silicone cups.

Disposable food cups for children's lunch

And here are the standard paper baking cups in different shapes and sizes. They’re really cute and flexible, and can be squished into odd shapes to fit the available space in your bento box. The drawback is that they’re not reusable and you can’t really cook in them.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Ichiban Kan, Daiso, etc.

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  1. The problem is allways the same for me… I cannot find these things here in Austria.
    :-(

  2. I’m a high school student and I can’t really order things or drive to specialty stores because of my parents. But I did find some silicone baking cups at Walmart in two different sizes. They were about $8 for twelve cups.

  3. I love these news cups ! I won’t find it here so I have to look for a website that sells the same and can ship to France … Hard !

  4. I’ve always meant to ask people whether they wash their dividers cause I’ve always felt like such a cheapie to do it. Glad to hear I’m not alone!

  5. I went to Daiso to get the Aluminum cups and ended up getting really thin ones… I can’t read any Japanese writing, so, is there any way to tell which are thick and which are thin?

    Thank you!

  6. This is exciting! I’m a simple bento-er, and the thing I use in every bento is my silicon cupcake liners. I like that it is flexible, non-toxic, and reusable. I will be hunting for these! Thanks for the tip.

  7. @5 from Pikko: Oh, you’re ABSOLUTELY not alone in washing and reusing the disposable baran! I’m shamelessly cheap (frugal?), and it’s not like they’re worn out with a single use or anything.

  8. @6 from Alexandra: If you have a photo of the package somewhere I could tell you. Or check the Daiso website (daisojapan.com) and see if you can find a link to the same package you bought — there’ll be English on the site (or I can tell you).

  9. what you can also do if you can’t go to a specialty store is buy a Visa gift card at a local walmart and use that as a “credit card” when checking out at ichiban kan
    i wished i had that store in my town
    they have so many great items at low prices!!

  10. Thanks for showing us the variety.

    Just out of curiosity, if I wanted to pre-bake and pack the pasta pots (with cooked pasta and bolognaise) for reheat in the microwave, what’s the best container?

    I’ve been using the ceramic souffle pots but they are just too heavy to be transported.

    Would it be ok to use those paper cups in this instance? My sis only owns a microwave so the item has to be microwave and oven friendly, if possible.

    Not sure if i am making myself clear here.

  11. After reading so many of your entries about these stores, I was thrilled when my work brought me out to South city and I passed a Daiso off the Serramonte exit. I finally got to go, and I bought a whole bunch of lunch-boxy stuff. And I thought of you the whole time I was there. What an amazing store! Thanks for introducing me to it, and for helping my lunches become a lot more well-rounded and interesting.

  12. Silicone dividers is such a good idea! I wash my plastic dividers as well and would hate to just throw them away. But I also hate having to take them out of a box to microwave my food. I’ll have to check these out on my next trip to Daiso. Thanks for the heads up! :D

  13. I bought some silicone baking cups to use as dividers, and for baking muffins and mini quiches. However, after using them just once I feel like the food I had in them tasted odd. Maybe plasticy, but I’m not sure how to describe it. Have you experienced the silicone cups/dividers affecting taste or smell?

    Someone recommended washing them out several times. I have done that, but still a little hesitant to use them with food. I’m bummed because I’d like to use these re-usable products that are so handy in bentos.

  14. @15 from theresa: Did you wash the silicone baking cups well in hot, soapy water before using them for the first time? That’s the general protocol for those silicone things. Once I’ve put them through the dishwasher I don’t notice any plasticky taste; maybe give that a try and let us know what you think?

  15. @11 from Emy: Ooh, your comment slipped by me there — sorry for the lateness of my reply! Which pasta pots are you talking about, exactly? If it’s just the plain pasta in a cup that you freeze, then definitely paper baking cups are fine (coated ones being better so the paper doesn’t get soaked through). If you’re talking about the pasta frittata, you could bake them off in the oven in paper baking cups set down in muffin tins (or even skip the liners, and grease the tins well). I wouldn’t put paper liners in a frying pan or on direct heat, though — too hot for the paper. Not sure if I’ve answered your question..

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