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From Mumbai to Your Kitchen: The Wonderful World of Tiffins


Go beyond the brown bag - tiffins make for a fun and versatile lunchtime accessory.

We know that eating our lunches out of disposable plastic containers can be harmful for our bodies and the environment. However, avoiding such a practice is easier said than done—restaurants serve us takeout in foam boxes, glass containers can be clunky and cumbersome to transport, and sometimes it is easier to chuck our food vessel into the bin than to scrub it out in the sink. 

At many offices, takeout trays and simple sandwiches reign supreme. Bringing more than one lunchtime element from home can require packing multiple separate containers, meaning more weight and more work. Luckily,by thinking outside of the lunchbox—and following the lead of 175,000 daily happy lunch-eaters in Mumbai, India—we can restore ease to the art of packing and enjoying a dynamic homemade meal.

A tiffin (traditionally a slang word for “packed lunch") is a quintessential Indian lunchtime container. Its compact, ergonomic design offers a versatile solution to both reducing packaging waste and revamping the traditional brown bag lunch. In modern-day Mumbai, over a hundred thousand tiffins filled with homemade food are delivered to office workers in the city from their homes in the suburbs each day, keeping their lunches hot, intact, and diverse.

Tiffins can vary from one firmly sealed, simple metal compartment to sets of stainless-steel bowls stacked on top of each another within one main frame. Multi-compartmented tiffins allow multiple meal elements to be efficiently stored without the risk of mixing them together—perfect for keeping your leftover Lemongrass Curry Tofu separate from your energy-packed Orange Coconut Fruit Balls.

Although you may not have someone coming to deliver your tiffin to you via bicycle on your lunch break, you can also enjoy the benefits of the tiffin revolution. Tiffin-related restaurant programs such as The Tiffin Project in Vancouver are making tiffins more accessible and providing a variety of win-win incentives to make the switch from disposable packaging: tiffin-users receive discounts at participating restaurants, while supporting the project's initiative to restore local farm-to-table relationships.

Having various compartments to play around with makes packing a lunch fun again and opens up the opportunity to try new food combinations.



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