How A Bento Box Is Saving My Relationship

bento box

Want to know how challenging you are to live with? Move in with your S.O. — they’ll tell you. Honestly, until my partner and I started living together, I never realized how many quirks and idiosyncrasies I have that my previous roommates had been too polite to point out. Turns out, I was that inconsiderate roommate, and I didn’t even know it! It’s not that I was purposefully trying to be inconsiderate. I just couldn’t imagine that there were people out there (other than my mother) who actually care about these things. Like, you know, your shared space and all the things in it.

You see, ever since I can remember, I’ve always been a chronic tornado of mess and disorganization. As I became older, I accepted this about myself and considered it just part of my charm. It didn’t bother me to leave dishes in the sink for weeks on end. Folding laundry was a light suggestion — and putting it away, or god-forbid hanging it? That was a feat comparable to climbing Everest. Martha Stewart I am not, but who needs to see their floor anyway?

Apparently my partner, that’s who. After a few weeks of domestic squabbles and endless pleading on his end for me to kindly not leave my shoes in the foyer again, I knew something had to give. My messiness was driving us both crazy, but try as I may, I just couldn’t get it together. Cleaning just didn’t come easily to me, and it made me feel like a failure at being the responsible and considerate “grown-up” I want to be.

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One night, after dirtying every pot and pan I owned while attempting to make a challenging new chicken florentine recipe, I stared up at the mountain of dirty dishes and began to weep. I’m talking full-on, ugly crying. As irrational (and likely hormone-fueled) as my wailing was, it sparked an important conversation between my partner and I. He told me it was okay if cleaning wasn’t my thing, that I was great at other things and that he’d be happy to handle the chores I hated if I could handle his most hated chore: meal-prepping.

Fortunately, I found the perfect product to help (and save my sanity). Let’s discuss…

While I love cooking, he tends to avoid the kitchen like Brett Kavanaugh avoids questions from the Senate. Cooking tasty and healthy meals is a huge challenge for him, especially in large batches. Since we were both trying out a new diet (hopped on the Keto bandwagon, guilty as charged!), it was super important to be tracking what was going into our meals. Keeping up with macro-tracking and portion control takes a lot of planning ahead, and it can be pretty stressful during the busy weekdays. Luckily, I’d picked up a cooking hack or two from the So Yummy producers, and had actually gotten pretty handy in the kitchen. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t too late for me to channel my inner Martha Stewart/Gwyneth Paltrow/insert aspirational human who gets sh*t done here. Feeling inspired, I grabbed a Takenaka Double Bento Box from our e-commerce department’s room the next day and got to work.

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I fondly remember how loved and cared for I felt when my mom took the time to pack me a lunch. She would always go the extra mile. I resigned to put the same amount of love and thoughtfulness into meal prep, which was easy to do with all the different options the bento box’s removable partition gave me. It was great having versatility with what could fit into the lunchbox. There were seemingly endless combinations of what to put in the compartments, which prevented lunches from getting tired and boring. I’d fill the bottom tier with lettuce, and the top one with fun toppings and dressing to keep it from getting soggy. Between the two segments is a little divet for a reusable fork, so I never had to worry about forgetting utensils. Best of all, there was even a little room left in one of the compartments to pack a sweet surprise treat.

Sure, it took a little bit more time on Sundays to cook everything ahead of time, but ultimately it was a time-saving breeze to not have to think about what to bring for lunch the next day when I was tired from a long day at work. Instead of endless to-go containers blocking the sink, all I needed to do was pop my one bento box container into the dishwasher. Voila, no more fighting about dirty dishes either! There was something seriously liberating about cooking with abandon and not having to worry about doing the dishes afterward. I was loving this trade-off.

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As we got into the rhythm of dividing and conquering household chores, I noticed how much easier cohabitation became when we focused on each other’s strengths instead of weaknesses. Equal partnership doesn’t always have to mean doing equal amounts of the same work — sometimes it means taking care of each other in the best way you know how and recognizing when a certain activity just isn’t your jam (pun totally intended). I learned that folding my laundry for me is how my S.O. shows me he cares, and that I could in turn show the same care with a yummy bento box stuffed to the brim with healthy and nutritious lunches for us both.

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