What is Bento? The official definition is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquer ware. Although bento lunches are readily available in many places throughout Japan many Japanese homemakers often spend time and energy on a carefully prepared lunch box for their spouse, child, or themselves.
Why bento? Portion sizes can be the stumbling block for adults and children when it comes to eating healthy. The pre-formed size of the food spaces in the bento boxes make it easy to keep the portions small and within the USDA MyPlate.gov standards.
Be careful not to stress portion sizes to kids. Just pack their lunches and let them enjoy their new bento box.
Building a bento – don’t confuse bento with a box of snacks.
- Protein (eggs, yogurt, low fat cheese, low sodium deli meat, chick peas, edamame, chicken, turkey,)
- Grain (muffin, pita bread, crackers, pasta salad, quinoa, tortilla)
- Vegetables (baby carrots or carrot sticks, cucumbers, celery, peppers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, radishes)
- Fruit (grapes, apple, water melon, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries, orange slices – mandarin oranges, pear slices)
- Snack (dried fruit, pretzels, popcorn, small cookie, chocolate covered raisins, gold fish crackers, nuts, seeds, fig newtons, bunny grahams)
- Olives, pickle
Enjoy the process and have fun thinking inside the box.
Feature photo by buzzymelibee