Here’s 10 reasons to bento:
1. Reduce & Reuse
Bento boxes and accessories are generally reusable, so you can pack a waste-free lunch which means reducing the plastic baggies in the landfill.
2. Saves Money
Packing lunch each day instead of eating out can save you money!
3. Promotes Healthy Eating & Portion Control
Bento packing guidelines suggest using a range of colors and cooking techniques to create a well rounded meal along with proportions for grains, proteins, and fruits and vegetables.
Many people are using bento to help regulate their portions. Since a box’s calorie content is proportional to it’s capacity in milliliters when packed by the packing guidelines, picking and packing the right size bento box can help you with your calorie control goals, or at least make sure you are getting enough food during your busy day.
4. Makes Packed Lunches Fun
The same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday just isn’t fun or exciting. But with bento, you can send your kid to school with not only a more exciting lunch, but a more interesting one as well. What kindergartener wouldn’t have fun showing off their lunch when it was shaped like Wall-E, Pikachu, or Hello Kitty? Since many bento are packed with a variety of small bite-sized items, taste buds get to have some fun too!
5. Encourages you to try new foods
You may be thinking that you don’t like Japanese food or sushi that much, and bento might not be for you, but it is! Bento boxes can be packed with anything you like, just be creative. There is a bento box out there to hold any kind of food you can create. There’s no reason to stick with the same old same old everyday - branch out, try a new recipe, or cuisine. You might be surprised by the exciting foods you’ll find that go great in a bento!
6. Uses up leftovers
Although some people like to spend hours planning and creating their bento masterpieces, not all of us have time for that. So, behind door number two is the speed bento. How fast can you pack a tasty, balanced meal in the morning? How about using leftovers from dinner? Or remake some leftovers into something new?
7. Impresses your friends & co-workers
Many people find that their co-workers are jealous of their compact bento lunches. They certainly look more appealing than that Big Mac or burrito from the local fast-food place! Once one kid brings a bento for lunch shaped like Hello Kitty or Pikachu, all the kids will wish their parents would pack them one!
8. By expanding your palate, you expand your vocabulary
As you try new cuisines for your bento box, expanding your palate, you’ll also expand your vocabulary with all the names of new ingredients, new cooking techniques, and if you search around online about bento, all kinds of new vocabulary from Japanese and other cultures.
9. Gives you a creative outlet
Some parents go all out creating their children’s favorite cartoon characters out of rice, or molding eggs to look like cars or fish. There are some very elaborate bento (kyaraben) being created out there. Give it a try!
10. Show how much you care for yourself, your kids, your spouse
Parents and spouses create bento for their children and each other to show them how much they care. It doesn’t have to be cutesy, just a tasty, healthy meal packed by someone who cares! (Adding a little message spelled out in nori or cheese letters never hurts either!)
So what is “bento”?
“Bento”or “Obento” is the Japanese term for a single serving packed meal. We use this term to mean a visually appealing, compact, nutritionally balanced meal in a box. ( There are some guidelines as to what is packed in a bento, but we’ll get back to that.) “Bento-bako” is the term for the box in which the meal is packed. The bento boxes themselves range in fanciness from disposable mass produced containers to hand crafted laquerware.