5 Tips on Making Healthy Bento Meal Boxes at Home
What is Bento?
Bento is a Japanese term that refers to a compact, nutritiously balanced, and visually appealing meal served in a box. In some ways, it’s like the lunchbox your parents packed for you when you were in primary school.
Recently, bento meals have grown in popularity, rivalling sushi and ramen as a nutritious, well-balanced, and visually appealing on-the-go lunch. Making your bento may appear intimidating at first – they look so good, but they require a lot of time and effort! However, this does not have to be the case. Everyone can make their bento box by following a few simple guidelines. Let’s get started, shall we
- Bentos are Healthy – Each box contains a well-balanced meal of proteins, fibre, and carbohydrates, enough to satisfy taste and appetite without losing interest.
- Environmentally Friendly – Bento boxes have built-in compartments for different foods, so they don’t touch, reducing the need for single-use plastic. Because the portion of food is small but sufficient, there is much less waste than with a self-serving buffet.
- Visually Appealing and Instagram-Worthy – The Bento boxes look very colourful and appealing because of the way they are packed. It is a form of art in and of itself. The neatly arranged compartments give the impression that it was custom-made for them.
- Variety in a Box – You have the freedom to include what is best for your lunch. Just combine what works for you whether you want more chicken, carbs, meat, or vegetables, you are the chef! If you are planning to cater from us, you can just pre-order without concerning too much about the menu as we got you covered!
- Bento Sets are Economical – Bento meals are much less expensive than a typical buffet. It provides variety while costing less than regular buffets. It’s a cost-effective option because you get a lot more for your money spent. It also makes the experience more convenient, enjoyable, and healthy.
- It encourages Picky Eaters to Eat – If you have children nearby, this is extremely helpful. Kids are enticed to taste each item by the box’s visual appearance, and because the portions are tiny, they can consume it so without difficulty. Every item has a different flavour, which encourages children to eat more and finish their meals without complaining.
Bento Preparation & Tips
- Choosing the Right Container
- Pick the right bento accessories
- Plan your bento meals
- Don’t limit your food selections!
- Balance and aesthetic!
- Good container, with a secured lid
- It comes with dividers to separate the food. Note: Bento can be packed in a simple container without a divider as well!
- Comfortable fork & spoon
- Mini skewers to pick small bits of food
- Food cups (for holding a different types of food)
- Food dividers (used to separate food for example)
- It must be savoury and satisfying – First, think about what you want to eat. Are you a meat lover who can’t go a day without eating pork, beef, or chicken? Do you enjoy a variety of dishes in your kitchen and enjoy a different dish every day? Or do you prefer delicious vegetables? Ease up! Follow your intuition and focus on what you love, and the ingredients do not have to be Japanese.
- Use the appropriate food, which should be cold, boiled, and packable – The whole point of a bento box is to be carried around for a few hours before eating to replenish your energy. That means the food must be able to withstand room temperature while remaining intact. A good rule of thumb is to only eat cold food (except for stews and soups, which require a thermal container), as warmth encourages the growth of bad bacteria inside your lunch. Stir-fried, boiled, cooked, or vinegared foods should be included in bento boxes. These methods are excellent for extending the shelf life of food that would normally spoil after sitting in a box at room temperature for a few hours. Vinegared carrot salad fired chicken, and hard-boiled eggs are the commonly used ingredients for bento boxes. Rice and carbs should be freshly prepared to avoid spoiling. Brown rice, quinoa, and millet are also excellent choices when packed tightly and stored properly before being served in the bento. You can substitute rice with pasta too! Our go-to recommendation for bento food selection consists of carbs, meat, vegetables, bean curd, egg, and drink. As for the carb selections, you may use white rice, fried rice, mee goreng, and vegetarian bee hoon. As to complement the carbs combination, you may add fried chicken with cashew nuts, a slice of fish with plum sauce, or Thai Style Chicken Chop. Finally, don’t forget to include braised bean curd, kale, and shrimp omelette, as well as drinks.
- Types of ingredients – For reference, you may have 40% of vegetables, 30% whole grain, 20% protein and 10% fruit. You can follow it as a guide but as mentioned earlier, you’re the chief of your bento. Being creative is the way!
- Colour combination – Pick the fanciest colour-looking bento boxes such as red, green, white, or yellow. The rule of thumb for bento packing is the creativity of colour mixing to achieve overall balance. The bento example above is well balanced, and you can see that simple ingredient like a variety colour of peppers complement together with fried chicken.
- Texture consideration – Just like colours and ingredients, a good bento has texture. For example, the peppers are evenly cooked, and the fried chicken is soft and tender. Adding to that, not only does the combination of ingredients matter but also the cooking method makes a difference in texture.
- Cooking techniques – Not everything should be boiled, fried, or prepared raw. One balance rule inherently influences the rest, so if they all seem overwhelming, focus on one and see if the rest automatically follow.
Aesthetic – After deciding on the ingredients for your bento, arrange them in the container of your bento box neatly and firmly. Pack the carbs and protein in one portion of the bento box and the veggies and fruits in another section to try to keep them separate. For aesthetic purposes and to split foods, use bento accessories (dividers, skewers, etc.). It is important to note that the tighter the food items are packed into your bento, and the less free space there is, the more likely your bento will retain its aesthetics and food will stay neatly in place.