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Posted on Apr 27, 2009 in Poll | 20 comments

Poll: How long does it take you to pack a lunch?

Poll: How long does it take you to pack a lunch?


Got Bento wall clockHow long does it usually take you to prep and pack a single bento lunch? Unless it’s a special occasion like Valentine’s Day or Children’s Day, I usually avoid decorative food and go for the speed bento, taking about 10-15 minutes max. Prep and organizational techniques from my speedy lunch-packing tips help me quickly prep and pack leftovers, frozen foods, and simple dishes like steamed or sauteed vegetables. I try not to cook more than one dish from scratch in the morning when I’m making lunch, even if they’re speedy packed lunch recipes. How about you?

How much time does it usually take you to pack a lunch?

  • Less than 15 minutes (50%, 380 Votes)
  • 16-30 minutes (37%, 284 Votes)
  • 31-45 minutes (7%, 57 Votes)
  • 46-60 minutes (3%, 21 Votes)
  • Over an hour (3%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 761

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Poll voting closes at midnight Pacific on Sunday, May 10, 2009. “Got Bento?” wall clock sold at the Lunch in a Box store on CafePress.



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  1. Highly variable. Anywhere from 10 minutes if I just need to chuck leftovers in a container and wash an apple to half an hour-but in that case I’m usually making 2-3 meals at once (I often eat both lunch and dinner at school).

  2. It always takes longer than I want it to, no matter what I’m trying to pack… lol.

  3. 5-10 minutes if I’m just packing leftovers for my main dish, up to 30 minutes if I’m gettin’ fancy.

  4. I voted 46-60 minutes. I’ve actually timed my latest bentos (more or less accidental) and they take around 45 minutes, give or take.
    Then again I attempt oekaki bentos, I can make them faster if I need to, but for me, most of the fun is to make it into a pretty picture :)

  5. Kate makes a good point- I voted less than 15 minutes, but sometimes I have to pack two meals out, for each of us. Then it’s more like 30-45.

    I did, however, just score a microwave steamer at a tag sale, so maybe that’ll cut down on time!

  6. My lunch doesn’t take very long at all to pack because almost everything is ready to eat raw food or already cooked left overs.

  7. Depends on what I feel like that day, sometimes I’m in the mood for quickie food (already prepaid leftovers) or sometimes I want more of a gourmet menu, which takes longer.

  8. I only pack one bento most days, for my boyfriend. It’s usually last night’s dinner, or something that I have prepared earlier while making last night’s dinner. I usually just have to prep fruits for him in the morning. It takes me 15 mins or more since it’s not easy to be fully awake at 4am!

  9. I won’t say that I never intend to make some nifty art bento, but other than making sure it’s attractively arranged, any one bento is unlikely to take me more than fifteen minutes to make most days.

  10. My time is severely limited with a husband who likes to sleep in, take a long bath, then walk to work…plus 4 kids, one of whom’s a baby. So get 20 mins if I’m lucky, often less, for 1-3 bentos. If I’m doing something super fancy, I’ll try to do some prep the night before, like cutting bits of nori or sculpting a piece of bell pepper.

  11. If I line up the boxes for all three of us and plan ahead to have things we all like stashed away and some bits premade, I can pack three lunches in less than 15 minutes - with a few variables even. I like mayo for dipping, DS likes honey, DH likes BBQ sauce, etc…

  12. I mostly plan and prep the night before so in the morning it only takes 5-15 minutes to pack it. BTW, Welcome Back Biggie! We missed you!

  13. I also prepare multiple lunches but pack all lunchboxes the night before, right after dinner then stick them in the fridge for fast grab in the morning. By doing it the night before, there’s no rushing around in the morning (the best part) and leftovers immediately disappear rather than getting forgotten way in the back of the fridge.

  14. @12 from Aimee S.: Thanks for the welcome back, Aimee. I’m coming out of a bit of a personal crisis that’s caused the unprecedented lapse in posting lately, and am just now starting to feel like writing about lunch again. Way overdue! It feels good to get back into the swing of things here.

  15. Mine is in the 16-30 min range, but I am ussually packing 2-3 lunches. I can get away with the same fruits and veggies in the lunches, but the main course varies. DH usually gets leftovers with some of the cut up fruits and veggies that I used in the kid’s lunches, the Teen wants the same exact sandwich each and every day and the 8 year old likes to dictate what her item will be that isn’t fruits and veggies (varies from boiled eggs, various sandwich options or rice balls and sometimes even salad). I do make the teen fix his own sandwich while I am cutting fruits and veggies.

  16. on average usually I take about 2 hours :) that’s because I tend to make overly complicated and design-based bento boxes for myself.

  17. I voted less than 15 minutes, but I only ever pack for my husband, and he gets leftovers. Same main course and side dish from dinner the night before, usually with an apple washed for him.

  18. I just wanted to say that I have severly cut down on my time since coming to your website, I don’t conciously do anything diffrent, but I don’t fret over the placement of items at much. I think I do it all subconciously? Anyway way down from 45-1hr to about 20-30 min.(or maybe it’s because i have less food choices haha D:)

  19. If its not 15 minutes or less I don’t want to bother with a Bento. It’s usually leftovers & raw foods, fruits etc since I am vegan. I don’t go design crazy since I don’t care about that but I try to incorporate colour and order :)

  20. Hey Biggie! (and anyone else with advise)

    I just got turned on to “bento”-ing my lunch. I know that this may be terribly simple, but I was trying figure out how to make sticky rice (and anyways that you make it quicker). I also am curious about the best way to store it for however long (and how long it’s good to store for that matter).

    Thank you for all the help in advance.