Co.Design

Could This Portable Bento Box Steamer Make Healthy Eating Easier?

Vim & Vigor have reinvented the lunchbox, hoping to rehabilitate our collective laziness when it comes to eating healthy at work.

Our national weight problem has been in the news a lot lately. Mayor Bloomberg is banning big-gulp soda, for example, with high-fat snack foods not far behind. But as the New York Times recently reported, it’s really tough to "force" people to change their ways. What tends to stick, conventional wisdom goes, is developing healthier everyday habits.

"Hectic lifestyles often have people turning to processed foods high in fat, sodium, and sugars," explains Vim & Vigor, the young New York design office behind Bento, a portable steamer-and-lunch-box-in-one. "Bento helps people eat healthier by providing an alternative to the convenience of fast food." V & V noticed how long it takes to prepare a steamed lunch before work, and how rubbery the contents can be by the time you get around to eating it. Bento uses a rice cooker to steam the contents of your lunch while you’re at work, eliminating both problems.

The designers envision Bento fitting into your daily routine like this: Pack up your lunch into the three compartments before you go to bed. Stuff that needs to be fully cooked goes on the bottom, closer to the heat, while vegetables go up top. Turn the built-in timer on when you’re around 45 minutes away from lunch, and the rice cooker at the bottom of the box uses induction heat to steam both the rice above it and the contents of the compartments above it. The grey compartments—which are double-walled like a thermos to prevent burns—hook on to each other for transport.

The idea behind Bento, say the designers, is to make it easier to eat healthy food than fast food. "At this point, Bento is just a concept," V & V Partner Irina Kozlovskaya tells Co.Design. But, she adds, "We welcome any manufacturing partners interested in making Bento a reality!"

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