Sticky Notes - Let's Make Bento Boxes
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Let's Make Bento Boxes

February 22, 2022 by Emily Moore

Bravo for Bento Boxes!

  • What did the mama llama say to her kids? ALPACA lunch!

For some parents, packing school lunches feels like a tiresome, never-ending chore. I’m not one of them. In fact, now that our kids are old enough to fend for themselves, I kind of miss packing their lunch. Why? Because bentos (Japanese lunch boxes) made the work easy and fun. 

To be clear, I’m not talking about ornate Bentos (although if you happen to have the time and determination to construct charming rice-ball pandas, I absolutely support you! (And you may find this video tutorial helpful) No, I’m talking about everyday bento lunches that are healthy and so easy to put together that, eventually, your child can do it by themselves.

Why Bento?

Bento lunches are tidy, convenient, and portable. They’re eco-friendly in that they don’t require single-use wrappers or baggies. And perhaps best of all, when thoughtfully packed, a bento box is a very concrete way to show kids what a balanced, healthy, and appropriately portioned meal looks like. Bonus: over time kids will naturally take on more responsibility for packing their Bentos, until they can manage the task completely on their own.

How to Build a Bento

Feel free to use a container that you already own, but you’d rather buy one, there are many styles to choose from, ranging from utilitarian to stylish. When it comes to filling the bento, consider variety, balance, and aesthetics. Makiko Itoh, author of the website Just Bento recommends creating a bento stash (joubisai) of stored foods that can be pulled out and used on short notice. In this same vein, taking time to bulk-prep ingredients in advance allows for super-quick bento assembly during the morning rush or even the night before. ​​​​​​​

Here’s one way to think about a four-compartment bento box:

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There are tons of ways to keep the bento interesting (for your child and, let’s face it, for yourself!) – you could build off a theme (a holiday, a color, a letter). Whatever you do, just have fun with it!

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