Bento Boxes


Original Image by miheco via Flickr
Original Image by miheco via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Americans have developed the concept, bigger is better.  Where has this led us?  To oversized portions!  Fads come and go.  Some more hyped than deserved, in my opinion, however, I fully support the new fad of bento boxes.  There’s a lot of great innovations and concepts that have emerged from Japan-thank them for the safe, reliable car you drive!

If you’ve ever noticed, out of many cultures, the Japanese pride themselves in the presentation.  In everything.  With food at the top of their list.  Bento boxes not only fit the Japanese culture of “small”, but it lessens the burden of many Americans trying to figure out what a portion is or lugging their scale out of attic.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of items already portioned out, such as Skinny Cow ice cream.  Bento boxes are not only pleasant to the eye, but provide the added plus of smaller portions.  It’s so much easier to enjoy one’s food without measuring out a serving.  I’m not saying the bento boxes should be considered the gold standard of portions, but it’s headed in the right direction of how much one should be consuming at a meal.  This box represents 1/2 carbohydrates, 1/4 vegetables and a 1/4 of the box proteins.

With smaller portions, the bento boxes makes one really enjoy the meal, savoring every bite. This new fad has gone viral, thank you Japan.  So many websites offer these premade boxes for purchase for children’s lunch boxes or for people on the go.  A lot of people have fun making these boxes, such as Sheri Chen, who prepares bento boxes for her 2 year old daughter.  Creating a bunny out of an egg, eating a carrot is obviously more appealing than a carrot in a plastic bag.  Having 4 compartments can also be a great way to make sure you’re getting variety.  Each “compartment” can represent a part of the MyPlate food groups.

I think I’ve done enough promoting of this concept.  So, what exactly does a bento box contain you might ask?

A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables as a side dish.

Original Image by Melissa via Flickr
Original Image by Melissa via Flickr

One might say “I don’t have time to find my cookie cutter! I barely have enough time to grocery shop.”  I will agree it can be time consuming and this day in age we always want instant results, but this is a clever way to not only shed a couple pounds, but if you’re running out of ideas how to get your kids to eat their veggies, try bento boxes! In Japan, it’s expected every wife can successfully prepare beautifully made bento boxes.  Is it too much to ask Americans to try it as well?

You can make your own box using cupcake baking cups or check out various types on Labtop Lunches, Wendolinia or Just Bento.  

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/dining/09bento.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://bentobox.bzzagent.com/?page_id=8

http://linda-pop.blogspot.com/2010/04/bento-box-art-galore.html

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