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Posted on Jan 4, 2009 in admin | 19 comments

2008: My bento year in review

2008: My bento year in review


Biggie in Lunch in a Box shirt

2008 was a year of big changes for Lunch in a Box, so I thought I’d step back a moment to look back at the highlights. I turned forty last year, so being at my own midway point may have made me more reflective than usual.

We’ll see what 2009 holds: my son’ll be starting regular kindergarten this fall, so I’m interested in seeing how a non-Japanese peer group affects his attitude towards his bento lunches. I’m looking forward to more blog changes in 2009 as well, including more bento community features and a site redesign to clean things up.


Morning news anchors at Fox40 Live, Sacramento After: Organized spice pantry

2008 opened with a Food Blog Award for best Family/Kids’ blog, which was surprising but cool. It was also a big year for bento lunches in the news, with a number of back-to-school articles citing the blog, both in print and online. The most interesting for me were a photo shoot of my kitchen with Apartment Therapy, and appearances on live TV and radio.

The photo shoot was scary because it was the first time I allowed cameras into my house and my kitchen was nowhere near presentable when I agreed to it. It did prompt me to write a series of posts about the kitchen reorganization with before and after photos exposing my pre-cleaning jumble, in case anyone mistook me for Martha Stewart. ;-) Live TV was challenging as I hadn’t done it before, and it was a good exercise in figuring out beforehand which points I wanted to stress on camera. I also lost 25 pounds and got a makeover, lest I scare anyone watching! It’s probably time for a new profile photo…


Food blogger lunch at BlogHer '08 weekend

In July I went to the BlogHer ‘08 conference here in San Francisco, an exhilarating learning experience. It was my first opportunity to meet so many bloggers in person, including food bloggers, mommy bloggers, and even sex bloggers! Kalyn and Elise strongly recommended getting a digital SLR camera for photos, which was the push I needed. I took the plunge in September, and have been playing with my new toy since, figuring out how to make the most of it. This is going to keep me busy for years!

Guest Posting:

Amorette Spa Bento

In 2008 I had my first guest poster step in while our family went on vacation. Well-known bento artist Amorette stepped in with a wonderfully informative series of posts about how she creates her spectacular oekakiben creations, even throwing in a cool speed bento tip of her own. I’m grateful to Amorette for her help and expertise, her knowledge of special-occasion bento lunches complementing my focus on the 10- to 15-minute “speed bento.” Her posts are are showcased on the new Decorative Food page.


Trick for freezing ground meat in small portions How to make an octodog (octopus hot dog)

  • BENTO STORE LOCATOR (BSL): I hired a web guy to design a tool that maps out local stores that sell bento gear, using Google Maps. User-generated information and reader feedback drives the tool, complementing the list of online stores for bento gear. I’m grateful to all of you who took the time to input info on your local stores around the world; the tool is only as good as the info that goes into it, and you’ve helped make it a very useful tool!
  • BENTO FAQ: After hearing that new readers felt overwhelmed by the amount of information on the website, I got my act together and wrote a detailed FAQ about bento-style lunches. I hope this serves as a solid introduction to bento and saves new visitors time.
  • GIVEAWAYS: As the blog grew, I received more offers to review lunch-packing gear. To minimize conflicts of interest, I set out a Product Reviews Policy on a new Reviews page and started giving away anything over US$40 that I review. So far, I’ve had giveaways for fancy rice cookers, a Mr. Bento lunch jar, a Laptop Lunchbox Set, and the Face Food bento book, with more to come. I don’t want the blog to turn into a constant stream of giveaways, but it’s been a handy outlet for products that I’ve wanted to check out but can’t in good conscience keep for myself.
  • POLLS: I’ve started running monthly polls to learn more about your bento habits, which I’m finding interesting. Hope you do too!

I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year, and thank you all for your readership and support!



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  1. Happy New Year to you too Biggie! I love your site!

  2. As said, Happy New Year 2009!

  3. Here’s to another year of great lunches and inspiring posts!

  4. Happy New Year, and thanks for doing what you do, and for doing it so well!

  5. I’m new to your site, and I just love your lunch ideas. I pack a bento for myself in my attempts to eat healthier and watch my portions. Thanks for all your efforts!

  6. Hi Biggie:

    Happy New Year!!! I think your son will be ok regarding his lunches in a non-Japanese environment. I started packing lunch for my 10 year old (5th grader) this year and his friends have been curious about his lunches and asking him questions. His teachers are fascinated by the presentation of his lunches and the varieties of foods (many recipes from your blog). Nothing fancy but they keep referring to his food as “gourmet” but believe it is far from it. Thanks so much for ALL your wonderful ideas!

  7. Happy New Year Biggie! I have really enjoyed your blog/site ever since I happened upon it. I hope your site redesign isn’t too drastic :D as I think the current layout is great…sort of like a well-packed bento, lots of variety and pleasing to the eyes. Best wishes for a fantastic 2008!

  8. been enjoying your posts, keep up the good work in 2009!

  9. Thanks for a great year biggie and I would say my favourite post over the last year was for airplane bento prep. I travel a bit and airplane food being what it is, that post was a good reference for bento :)

    I love all your posts though and happy 2009!

  10. Is your last name Wikipedia? It should be… you are a wealth of knowledge. I look forward to 2009 and everything you have to write about.

  11. Happy new year to you as well. Bring on the lunches!

  12. Congrats on a great year! Keep up the great work!!

  13. Love the “gangsta” pics of you - rapping I’m guessing to Lunch in a Box! I crack up everytime I even think about the origin of the name of this site ;)
    Happy new year… I’m looking forward to this new year!

  14. @6 from julia: I hope everything will go as smoothly for Bug after he leaves Japanese immersion preschool. Right now every kid in his class brings a bento, so he doesn’t yet realize that it might be unusual in a different school. Still not sure which grade school he’ll be at, though, so we’ll see!

  15. @7 from Fallstar: Thanks for the kind words about the current layout, Fallstar! It’s gotten the job done, but I’d like to tweak navigation and some other functional aspects to improve things for readers.

  16. Happy New year lolla, i love your site very much

  17. Hi Biggie,

    I wish you a very happy new year!

  18. Greetings from Mexico City! Love your site, it’s totally on my faves list. I can’t wait to pack lunches for my toddler who just started school! Sad to say, the 3 japanese supermarkets here do not sell the cutesy plastic dividers. : (

    But I’ll keep looking! Keep up the great work! (= ^-^ =)