If you’ve ever wished that there was just a little bit more of a certain side dish in your lunch, you’ll absolutely love these bento bargains.

It’s been two years since our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa first bought the Wiener Bento that’s part of the super-affordable Lawson Store 100‘s line of “simple bento.” This line features mini bento that are full of just rice and what’s usually considered to be a side dish but with a main dish-sized portion. The sizes are perfect, however, for when you want something simple but filling. You also can’t beat the line’s low price of 200 yen (US$1.48) per bento, especially among the rising costs of inflation.

▼ The latest entries in the simple bento series

The two new releases are Simmered Hijiki Bento (hijiki seaweed simmered with vegetables) and Kinpira Gobo Bento (thinly sliced burdock root and carrot stir-fried then simmered in a sweet soy sauce). In the first one, the hijiki was fully spread over the layer of rice, whereas in the second one the kinpira gobo was portioned off to the side. Seiji was pleased to see that both were quite packed with the dishes since regular bento might only feature a tiny portion of each.

He was just about to open the lids to take a bite when something suddenly occurred to him.

Unlike his Wiener Bento from two years ago, these two new simple bento had plastic lids. The sausage one had only had a plastic wrap covering it. He remembered that point clearly since he figured that it was one way to cut down on its cost.

Could it be that times had changed and plastic lids were now the norm? That’s when Seiji decided to go out and purchase as many types of the simple bento that he could find.

As it turned out, out of all of the ones he could find, ONLY the two new bento had lids–and yet, they were still the exact same price as the others.

However, his local Lawson Store 100 didn’t have every product in the simple bento series in stock when he went, so he couldn’t say for sure that it was only the two new ones that had lids. It seemed like a little change but something he was incredibly curious about.

In any case, he decided to have a little fun with his food before eating. Lining up the bento in formation, the series looked like some kind of super squadron. He was super excited to be able to pick and choose from whichever side dishes he wanted now.

▼ Dynamic action shot!

For Seiji personally, the kinpira gobo bento was his favorite. Its flavor was relatively natural and light, and the parts of the rice that had touched the seasoning were especially delicious as well. He could easily see himself eating this one for breakfast.

All in all, he was very satisfied with both of the new entries. They’d definitely be good to keep in mind for when he just needs something simple and light after gorging on some other kind of food monstrosity in the name of quality journalism.

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