My sister gave me a stainless steel bento box when my son was young. I think she got it in Taiwan when she was studying T’ai Chi there. A bento box is a single container or one divided into sections for carrying a meal, used in Japan and other countries. When he started preschool, it was used daily for his lunches. That pleased me, as I was always searching for non-plastic alternatives for food containers. Later, with two children, I looked for another one. I found other parents with similar concerns who had started websites about healthy lunches and containers (http://www.laptoplunches.com). I found out that the term bento box is used as a metaphor as well, for something with varied content, and more. However, no one had these stainless steel boxes.
In the meantime I did find reusable sandwich bags by SnackTaxi (http://www.snacktaxi.com) in the Linden Hills food co-op in Minneapolis, where I used to shop when I lived in an apartment near Lake Harriet. To my surprise, I found that the creators of these easy-to-clean bags are in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, not far from where I live now. We bought some, and they are useful. But I was still looking for those stainless steel boxes.
Fourteen years later, I walked into Green Fields Market, our local cooperative grocery store, and there on the shelf was not only a very similar box, but it came with a smaller container as well (http://www.ECOlunchboxes.com!) I felt like telling everyone around me how exciting this was, but I only let it bubble over a little when I got to the cashier. She smiled.