While the bento box has been around for centuries, it has developed from ages ago to include more than simply packed rice — it now contains fish, veggies, and pickles to replicate a teishoku-style dinner served at home or in a restaurant. People started packing these lunches in the morning and taking them to work or school. It was an easy method to pack a balanced meal for the day. Nowadays, bento boxes are readily available for purchase from a broad range of restaurants, railway station vendors, and supermarkets and they include anything from traditional Japanese “okazu,” or side dishes, and rice, to bread and spaghetti with foreign cuisines.
A Nutritious Meal
Bento boxes are more than just a convenient method to pack a lunch on-the-go; they’re a way to eat healthfully and well-balanced. One box contains a complete dinner consisting of 40% rice, 30% meat or fish, and 30% vegetables (the same proportions as a typical Japanese lunch set served in a restaurant or cooked at home).
Bento boxes aren’t inherently healthy because of the food they include — many contain fried chicken, creamy potato salads, and thick sweet sauces, items typically labeled “unhealthy”, but they are healthy because of the way the ingredients are balanced together. Not every bento box has only white rice and deep-fried chicken; instead it is likely to include other side dishes like as fresh tomatoes, salad greens, and pickles to go along with the main course. Because there are so many side dishes included in a single box, you may find yourself not eating as much fried chicken or white rice as you expected.
Big salad or grain bowls that solely include “healthy” items are the championed healthy takeaway meals, but these alternatives tend to taste monotonous and aren’t long-term sustainable. When it comes to “healthy” meals in Japan, they prefer to emphasize moderation and variety rather than strict dietary categorizations like “good” and “bad” items.
This is one of the reasons why bento boxes have become so popular. In addition to being handy, they’re also full-fledged nutritious meals that may be customized innumerably, like fast food. Individuals can enjoy their favorite meals, such as fried chicken or creamy potato salad, in moderation with a variety of spices and flavors while avoiding eating too much of anything in particular. They’re delicious, healthy, and packed with our favorite meals, so everyone can partake in them seven days a week.
How To Put Together A Nutritious Bento Box
Bento boxes usually include rice, grilled fish, veggies, and pickles, but there are other methods to put together a well-balanced and healthful bento box. Easy to prepare, and all you have to worry about is how much carbs, protein, and veggies you’re eating. To get you started, here are a few pointers:
Make sure you’re using a suitable container. You have the option of using regular Tupperware or a bento box with several tiny sections. Something that can be heated in the microwave works great!
Prepare rice or another grain in bulk. These are simple to prepare in big amounts and keep for a long time in the fridge, so having a supply on hand is a smart idea.
To save time, prepare the “okazu” or side dishes in large quantities, frequently recycling leftovers from the day before. Instead of cooking these dishes fresh every morning, feel free to repackage leftovers into a bento box the day before. This is critical in terms of saving both time and stress. Combine and create boxes based on what you already have.
Focus on the ratio of your meal instead of worrying about preparing side dishes that are sugar- and fat-free or low-carb (which are unsustainable methods when thinking about healthy eating), since they are unsustainable techniques.
No need for fast food or take-out to have nutritious, easy meals when planning ahead and doing a little prep work. Stressing over what foods to eat and what foods not to consume is counterproductive; instead, focus on balance and moderation to make healthy eating simple.
The Advantages Of Packing A Lunch For Children
Bento boxes make packing and serving your child’s lunch a lot of fun. Bento is a great option for many reasons.
Portion management is easier with bento boxes. Rather than the super-size-me restaurant servings, it teaches youngsters the proper portion sizes with this method.
They allow you to prepare big quantities and then store them in the fridge or freezer in individual serving sizes. As a result, it’s simple to swap out parts.
The majority of the food in bento boxes is fresh, which is why they are popular. Making use of a pre-fabricated container will keep you motivated to pack it with nutritious alternatives while limiting overconsumption and ensuring that only the best-of-the-best makes the cut.
They’ve got a lot of uniqueness and originality in them. Bento boxes frequently offer a wide range of foods in vivid colors and textures, which may make you more motivated to add that additional red pepper or carrot to your child’s lunch in the sake of aesthetics.
Bento is a novel approach to aid in calorie counting and weight loss. Bento boxes have been used in Japan for generations to transport a tasty, healthy, and aesthetically pleasing lunch to eat on the move. Children take their bento boxes to school, and adults bring their bento boxes to work.
Portions Are Precisely Measured In A Bento Box
There are four or five compartments in a bento box, some of which can be shut firmly to store liquids like soup, salad dressing, or sauce, while others remain open.
Bento boxes in Japan are commonly filled with a variety of meals including rice, fish or meat, veggies, pickled vegetables, and sometimes even dessert. The goal is to make the servings as visually appealing as possible by arranging the food in interesting ways and utilizing eye-catching color schemes.
Bento Box: Calorie Counting Assist
Everything sounds great, but how does it help you lose weight?
Due to the tiny size of the compartments in a bento box, portion management is automatically provided. Even if you don’t realize it, you’ve become obsessed with calorie intake.
Even the biggest container can only hold so much of a specific meal, for example. It’s impossible to fit two cups of rice or pasta into a container designed to hold half a cup.
Maintain a Nutritious Bento Box Menu
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll lose weight just by eating smaller quantities. Packing foods that won’t make you gain weight is crucial even if you’re using a bento box.
If, for example, you pack potato chips and sour cream dip in one container and a brownie for dessert in another, you’re not going to lose weight just because you bring a bento box to work.
Even so, the variety of container sizes in a bento box aids in weight loss. They make it simpler to maintain a balanced diet by balancing a variety of meals. Larger parts for veggies and smaller sections for carbs, for example, may help you lose weight faster.
Bento Box: Bring Out Your Inner Van Gogh
If, like the Japanese, you decide to fill up any remaining gaps after your main bento box is full, you can do so with low-calorie items like broccoli blossoms or red pepper strips. Slices of fruit and vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes and radish half, also work nicely.
Keep things appealing by using vibrant colors, use your creativity as a guide. Cookie cutters are popular among children and adults alike when it comes to creating bento box meals.
It’s a great idea to lose weight by using a bento box. Even if you’ve reached your ideal weight, sticking to a bento box diet can keep the pounds off.
Why Do Reheat Food?
Room-temperature bento boxes are the norm in Japan. Even with an ice pack or in the refrigerator, food that has been left out grows less fresh with time.
That’s why pre-heating your meal is strongly recommended,
How to Protect Your Bento Box Before You Pack It
- Take a shower or a bath and wash your hands.
- Check to see that your bento box is clean and dry before packing it.
- When handling food, use clean utensils (such as chopsticks) or plastic gloves. As a result, it is best to avoid touching food with bare hands. Your hands are carriers of bacteria. If you use the same utensil to touch two different foods, wipe it clean or use a different tool. If you want to wash it, take sure to let it air dry fully before using it again to pick up another item off the table.
- Pre-cooked/leftover food should be reheated before packing, if possible. If you do this, I also recommend cooking in a skillet or toaster oven rather than a microwave to ensure that food, particularly meat, is heated completely rather than partly.
- Hot/warm rice must be chilled before it can be packed in a traditional Japanese bento box with cold/cold food. When hot or warm rice is served with other foods, it might initiate the growth of germs.
- All food should be de-flavored and de-liquidized to prevent it from spoiling more quickly.
- To reduce the danger of bacteria development, chill the food before closing the bento, especially if the lunch box will be left at room temperature for a few hours.
- To keep food fresh and secure until lunchtime, use ice packs and an insulated bag.
Hints and Tips
Implementing these three fundamental guidelines of bento preparation will result in a well-balanced and healthful lunch tailored to your preferences. Skill develops via practice, so don’t be afraid to begin your bento adventure as simply as possible. Here are some more tips and methods to help you get started with your bento skills:
Don’t become too focused on the box.
Japanese bento boxes have traditionally had divisions, typically at least two, to segregate rice from the rest of the contents. While such divisions are undoubtedly useful for keeping your components distinct, preventing rice from becoming mushy or tastes from blending too much, you don’t have to go out of your way to buy a Japanese-style box. Use any lunch box you like if you don’t mind a little discoloration here and there, especially if you’re a bento novice.
Tightly pack it.
Every centimeter of space in a bento box should be filled with something. This is because the box may move about in your backpack a little, and you don’t want to open it at lunch and discover everything mixed up. Fill up the spaces with solid meals – tiny tomatoes are a good example, but a chicken nugget would also suffice.
Pack it in 3D.
Unlike a plate, where everything spreads out in a somewhat flat manner, bento boxes require you to think in 3D. That implies working your way up and stacking meals on top of one another. That is not an issue for dry meals, but wet foods should be enclosed in a silicone form or with some type of divider (even aluminum foil will do).
Precook as much as you can ahead of time.
Precooking is what makes bento boxes so quick and easy to assemble in the morning. Simply increase the amount of whatever you’re having for supper. Carrot salad and cooked eggs can also stay in the fridge for a while. The only item that need be added fresh is rice, which can be produced just as quickly if you have a rice cooker. Alternatively, you may just substitute another carb of your choosing!
Keep in mind that a bento box is chilly.
Bento boxes are often not microwaved and are instead eaten cold (or rather at room temperature). It is critical that anything you prepare for your box tastes excellent when it has cooled.
Only the primary component should be changed.
A fantastic tip for bento newbies is to utilize the same sides and simply switch out the main component on a regular basis. As an example, as fixed sides, combine grilled vegetables, fried chicken, meatballs, or stir-fried beef strips with rice, tiny tomatoes, and a boiled egg.
Serve with lemon slices.
Lemon not only adds a splash of bright yellow to your bento box, but it also serves as a refreshing flavor that works with nearly any dish and helps to keep your box fresh throughout the day.
When it comes to salt and pepper, use caution.
Over-seasoning might have a negative impact on your taste balance. A bento box, with its various components, offers many different flavors that may be easily confused by a liberal application of salt and pepper.
The goal of a bento is to make it appealing to the eye as soon as the lid is opened and to add color to the meal. And because fruits and vegetables provide a vivid contrast to grains, meat, or fish, that color is also beneficial.