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Posted on Mar 17, 2008 in admin, Organize | 23 comments

Lunch Gear Organization Event: The Round-up

Lunch Gear Organization Event: The Round-up


Here’s the round-up for my first Organize Your Lunch Gear event, with the entries in the order that I received them (except the contest winner). First off, I’d like to thank everyone for participating! There were a lot of excellent organization ideas to help us stay sane in the kitchen, using everything from craft boxes, cubbies from Target, Indian spice boxes, and bookshelves with bins. My hope is that we can get ideas from each other to tame our otherwise unruly lunch-packing gear!

Of all the clever entries, I was most taken with Rhiannon’s ingenuity. She not only crafted an entire bento center out of an old bookshelf and cool organizers, but also made her own YouTube video to show it off. Don’t miss her full blog entry that also shows accessory-filled magnetic spice tins stuck to her metal organizing bins, and cute plastic Easter eggs that she’s filled with baby washcloths to make her own oshibori damp hand towels (see my oshibori how-to here). So many creative ideas in one place inspired me to do a similar reorganization this weekend — here’s my new reorganization post to complement my original accessory Organization Madness post. Rhiannon will be receiving my review copy of Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes (full book review here). Well done! (Read on for the full recap with all of the entries…)

  • Rhiannon’s cool bookshelf with bins and neato YouTube video (Winner)

  • Pieces of Earth uses Snap ‘N Stack craft organizers from Target
  • Pieces of Earth Target organizers

  • Willow at Willow’s Bento Box stacks Indian spice tins and a wooden box from Ross

Willow's Indian spice tins on bookshelf Willow's Indian spice tins

  • Tenae at This Little Bento uses Sterilite drawers and a low cupboard with glass doors

This Little Bentos Sterilite drawers

  • Reader Jodie also uses Sterilite drawers. She writes via e-mail, “I bought a small storage box that is 9x9x9. It holds all of the small stuff well and sits on a shelf in my kitchen pantry next to all my bento boxes. I still have another basket that holds egg molds and rice molds, but for the smaller items this has worked great for keeping things together.
  • Jodie organizer 1 Jodie organizer 2 Jodie organizer 3

  • Reader Beth uses modular cube shelving from Target (a square and step-style combination) with pull-out organizers and plastic boxes to tame her collection (click here for a slideshow with additional photos). She writes via e-mail, “I have several of the cube areas open, which I use to store the “nicer” bento boxes. The rest of the cubes have fabric drawers that fit perfectly into the cubes, which hold all of my bento “gear” and the rest of the bento boxes. (The colors aren’t favorites of mine, but they match a photo I have hanging above the unit, and bring a lot of color into my otherwise blah kitchen. The drawers are fairly inexpensive, and can be changed.) The gear is held inside large Lock&Lock storage containers, divided up by type/function. Being organized really helps to speed up bento packing!” (Biggie: I really liked this solution as well.)

  • Reader Melissa likes over-the-door shoe organizers. She writes, “The flat panel kind with all the pockets you can get at any mega store or home center. I love the ones with clear vinyl pockets. We have one on the inside of the pantry that holds granola bars, raisins, cookies and the like.. and one down the side of the fridge that holds most of my smaller bento boxes, my cupcake cups, cookie cutters, and food picks. I even cut one up into smaller parts and tacked the pockets inside cabinet doors to keep track of sippy cup lids, bottle parts and many other small misc. items. It really maximizes vertical space!”
  • Nakji at Tokaido Notebook uses Daiso organizers

  • Bittersweet Utopia organizes on the cheap with a hanging toy bag from Ikea and plastic bins from Dollar Tree

  • Natesgirl at Please Give Peas a Chance uses a couple of three-drawer organizers

Please Give Peas a Chance organizer 2

  • Sakurako Kitsa (a.k.a. Amorette Dye, as featured in Face Food) uses recycled manticotti trays to organize her food picks (via e-mail)

Sakurako Kitsa recycled manicotti trays 1



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  1. wow :)

    I love IKEA-stuff. The hanging toy bag should mostly be avoided if you have cats that are not terribly well-behaved!

  2. That video was excellent, if only to show show to my husband that things could be a lot worse in terms of bento paraphernalia volume.

  3. Wow. Rhiannon’s collection is off the hook! :D

    I love her idea of using cute plastic “candy” boxes for oshibori. I’ll have to look for some of those when I go shopping today. :)

    I need life to die down a bit, and a new hard drive, so I can share my collection and skills. :)

  4. wow, that’s hot, this will help a lot. I’m trying to organize lately but it’s very hard. I’ve got a whole shelf dedicated to my bento items in the pantry but it’s quite deep and sometimes it seems a bit silly… like too cluttered that way, evne with the smaller items arranged into boxes and such.

  5. Oh My! Such amazing ideas!
    I do something similar to Pieces of Earth (with the craft organizers from Target) but that still leaves “bits” in three other cupboards.
    Having all of the various pieces on one small shelving unit is brilliant! (…wondering how to copy idea in much, much tinier space…) The oshibori idea is spectacular! Oh, who am I kidding? The whole thing is spectacular!
    Rhiannon absolutely deserves to win.
    Thank you, Biggie, for holding this contest.

  6. @1 from Jessika: Ha ha, funny you should mention cats and the hanging Ikea bag. We have the exact same hanging toy bag, which I took down from Bug’s room about a year ago when we got better shelf-style organizers for his toys (where he can reach all of them). But after I read Bittersweet Utopia’s post I got it back out to look at and Bug asked that we put it back up in his room. Well, the result has been hilarity on the cat front. Moose and Squirrel have been trying to get into the lower compartments, and falling in the most amusing fashion — sending my three-year-old into convulsions of laughter. So either avoid the hanging toy bag, or look at it as built-in amusement as long as you don’t care about the things inside falling occasionally. :-)

  7. @2 from nakji: I agree — great video! Really gives a sense of the organization as a whole. This past weekend I went out and bought a BIG bookcase from Ikea to replace a too-small one in the kitchen, and took some ideas from the posts. My husband’s already relieved, but says he’ll be happiest once he’s convinced that things will no longer attack him from the cupboards… I’m almost there, still a little ways to go.

  8. @3 from Sile: Aren’t those little candy Easter eggs cute oshibori holders?! I really liked her creativity there.

  9. Name’s Karmatir from Pieces of Earth Foods BTW.

    A note about mine for anyone who might be curious - I was forced to re-organize my kitchen since I posted the original entry and the organizer box now has its own shelf on a kitchen “island” I have. Along with the large box (in my post) of my bento boxes and side cars. I live in a 1940s apartment building with almost NO space, just a teeny tiny kitchen so I had to make due. I wish I had the room that Rhiannon does, that’s amazing!! And appeals directly to my OCD nature about organizing. Thanks for doing this Biggie, it was fun!!

  10. @4 from Yvo: I think it’s a never-ending organization battle as long as we keep accumulating new things (which can be irresistable). What worked well for me a year ago no longer meets my needs with more stuff. (Pleads guilty to being a kitchen pack-rat.)

  11. @5 from LillyAnn: Glad you got some good ideas from the contest, LillyAnn. She inspired me too — so creative!

  12. @9 from Karmatir: And thank YOU for participating, Karmatir! I’d been eyeing similar organizers at Costco and wondering how they’d work for bento gear — your blog entry satisfied my curiosity completely! I hope you’ll do another blog entry with your new setup; I’m curious now about what it looks like…

  13. Thank you so much, Biggie! It was a blast! Any excuse to get together with a bunch of bento-lovers and talk organization, right? It was really great to read about everyone’s methods; it has inspired me, as do you!

  14. Oh, my, you guys are all just AMAZING!

    I want to go reorganize my entire kitchen now….

  15. Ummm…make that the whole house (if I’m lucky, I might get one of the kitchen cabinets organized tonight)! (sigh…)

  16. I like the small Sterilite drawers idea. I use them in closets in other areas of the house. I wish I had counter space for them. But I guess it just proves that I need more drawer space in the kitchen which I’ve been saying all along. Sigh!
    Fun to see all the ideas.

  17. @13 from Rhiannon: And thank you for the great entry, Rhiannon! Very cool system.

  18. @14/15 from Alison: I so hear you, Alison! Lots of good ideas here.

  19. Have you ever thought about using silicone cup cake containers as reusable food cups?

  20. @16 from veganf: Ah, what I wouldn’t give for unlimited counter space and better designed drawer space in the kitchen! I guess once my ship comes in I’ll get the kitchen redesigned (but the thought of being without a kitchen during construction scares me).

  21. @19 from Robin: Absolutely! I use silicone baking cups often and did a post about them here.

  22. Everyone has such great ideas. The magnetic box is something I need to try.

  23. @22 from Sharon J: The little magnetic spice tins work really well, although I need to make sure the lids are on securely before putting them back up so they don’t pop open on me.