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Bento Basics and Tips

What is bento?

A bento lunch is a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box.
Bento or obento is the Japanese word for a meal served in a box. Beyond that basic definition though, just about anything goes as to what kind of box or container is used, as well as what is put inside that box.

Packed in reusable containers, they reduce lunch waste such as plastic baggies and disposable containers and allow you to pack a wider variety of food for lunch.
Portion control is also easy if you follow the general packing rule of thumb of 3 parts carbs, 1 part protein and 2 parts fruits and vegetables. I created a lunch box comparison list HERE. This list is based on my own experience over the years of lunch packing.

Some Tips

My Style of Packing:

There is a little more to it than just putting food in a box, I try to select those foods which I feel my son needs to eat. This can sometimes be challenging as his preferences don't always coincide with what I feel he needs. I try to present them in a cute way with the hope that his lunches will be both nutritious and fun. I also created a resources page which I listed the bento supplies that I love and frequently use, check it out HERE.

Here are some of my ways:
  • Cute Lunch Boxes: I enjoy collecting interesting lunch boxes and I try to alternate them. While he still enjoys the cute boxes, I have the reason to continue adding more.
  • Use Food Picks: They can make a huge difference for simple and quick lunches.
  • Use Cookie Cutters: I don't have a huge collection of these, but have found ways to use what I have to create different designs.
  • Silicone Cups: These work well as food separators and there are many fun colors and shapes to choose from.
Time is precious to everyone and it's important how it is spent. While we want to provide the best nutrition for our families, we also want to share our time, so preparing my son's bento with less time and fuss, leaves more for everything else.
My speed techniques are:   

1) I try to Pre-pack lunches the night before. The next morning, I'll just have to cut fruits or cheese and assemble them into the bento box.
2) Use leftovers from dinner. Sometimes I pack them directly into the bento box and sometimes into a microwavable bowl so I could heat it up the next morning, allow the food to cool down and transfer into the bento box.
3) Use freezer stash like frozen homemade muffins, meatballs, onigiri, dumplings and more.



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