Bento Packing Guidelines
Packing “rules”? Well, we’ll call them “guidelines” so you don’t feel so boxed in. You will see that some of these do make sense! However, you can pack your bento any way you want with anything you want!
Three Rules of Thumb
Three rules of thumb to get that little box to hold just the right amount of food:
A. 3:2:1 - Three parts grain : Two parts vegetables : One part protein
B. 0 - No candy, junk food, fatty food
C. 0 - No empty space (you can use all kinds of foods or accessories to fill gaps so food doesn’t slide around!)
The Five Fives
Since bento comes to us from Japan, the following guidelines are the basis of all washoku (Japanese cuisine), and are grouped into fives sets of five rules (sometimes referred to as the “five fives”). The first four rules are important to help you create a balanced meal. Each bento should incorporate the five “elements” listed under their “rule” title. The fifth rule, well, you can decide for yourself!
1. Goshiki (five colors)
Incorporate at least five colors, which, if you think about it, should be quite easy, it makes your lunch a feast for your eyes!
aka (red (or orange))
kuro (black (also purple or brown))
2. Goho (five methods)
Incorporate five different cooking methods. Ever notice how boring a whole meal of fried food is?
Tsukuru (create) ((This one might also refer to the arranging of the bento))
Don’t forget about:
3. Gomi (five flavors)
Incorporate five flavors. Give your taste buds some variety!
4. Gokan (five senses)
You don't have to cover each one of the five senses with each food, but it's something to strive for!
5. Gokan no mon (five outlooks or viewpoints)
This is the one most people ignore or overlook. This guideline follows the Buddhist doctrine referring to the state of mind you should have while eating. Some people may find it hoaky, but others like the sentiment.
1. Ponder deep gratitude for the people who prepared the meal.
2. Perform deeds and have thoughts worthy of receiving such nourishment.
3. Partake of food with no ire (anger).
4. Realize that eating this food is feeding the soul as well as the body.
5. Be seriously engaged on the road to enlightenment.