The Basics of the Bento Box
What is a Bento Box?
I never thought of bento boxes as a new, exciting way to pack meals since I've grown up with them! I'm 1/4 Japanese, and I remember my grandma preparing meals for me in bento boxes, whether I took them with me to school or just for meals at home.
Bento boxes are basically Japan's version of a lunch box. A bento box is a compact, visually appealing box that has dividers which help you prepare a balanced meal. Some bento boxes, or “bento-bako", may be tiered, while others may just be one single box. They come is a huge variety of designs and shapes. Bento boxes are perfect for anyone, whether you are sending lunches with your kids to school, or if you pack lunches for work yourself.
The Benefits of Using Bento Boxes
With many people starting to look for ways to be more "green" or environment friendly, bento boxes are perfect! Bento boxes are generally made of out a plastic and are washable.
Compared to using plastic sandwhich baggies or other disposable containers, bento boxes are definitely the way to go. Bento boxes are not only eco-friendly but extremely economical.
Bento boxes are purposely made to create a balanced lunch. They have dividers built in for portion control. This a perfect way to pack a healthy, nutritious meal quickly and efficiently. For those of you who want a simple method for weigh control, using a bento box takes the guess work out of packing meals.
Besides being kind to your environment, budget and waist-line, bento boxes are just plain cute. They are very aesthetically pleasing, and aren't commonly seen here in the US. They are becoming popular and for good reason. For picky eaters, especially children, bento boxes are a fun way to pack healthy meals.
How Should I Get Started?
The first step in switching to using bento boxes is to chose one (or a few!) to use. There are plenty of cute bento boxes for kids, as well as ones suited for adults. The size of the meal you'll be packing will help you decide what size box to get. Keep in mind that some bento boxes may not be leak-proof.
After choosing a bento box, I'd recommend buying a book or two, or look up information on the internet. Your bento box can be as simple or as extravagant as you'd like. As for your actually meal, you can pack anything you'd normally have. For some reason, many people seem to think that bento boxes are just for Japanese food. For a healthy, balanced meal use lean meat, beans, cheeses, tofus, fish, raw or cooked veggies, fresh fruits or nuts. As long as you keep in mind what portions you'll be using, you can pack whatever meal you'd like to.
I love using bento boxes for both packing meals and for use at home. I love being able to have my foods separated from each other. I also love visually appealing meals, and bento boxes are my favorite way to prepare them. I recommend that everyone give them a try!