Bento Boxes! I have loved making these fun japanese lunches for over a decade now! Usually whenever I am trying to eat healthier or more economically.
Monster Inc Bento
What is a Bento Box? Well I would explain it as a full meal made into a box or many small containers. Here is the wiki definition : Bento (弁当 bentō?) is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine.
The most common place (in america) you may have seen one is at a sushi or japanese restaurant. They usually offer a bento box that is one big plate / container separated into many compartments and each holding a different food item. Usually a sushi roll, some dumplings, rice, salad, and the main course. (I highly recommend ordering one next time you go out, they are so filling and usually a great deal)!
Bento Supplies via Wendy Copley
Bento Supplies via Wendy Copley
What I love so much about Bento is how cute they are! You can dress them up so many different ways, and it’s like receiving a little present for yourself when you open it up for lunch. If you work in an office situation or where people will see your meal, people will probably comment on it as well. I like to treat myself with a bento, or other people as gifts as well. Food is always a great gift especially when it is made with care, thought and love like Bento’s are supposed to be made.
Tempura Fried Bento
Stuffed Onigiri Bento
These are some of my very first bento’s that I made when I was still living in Chicago, way back in 2005! I was very much a beginner, but I was also very much obsessed with Japanese cooking, I lived very close to a Japanese Grocery Store called Mitsuwa, and I was able to get a lot of things to make more traditional dishes. At this time, I still ate some meat products – hence the sausage in there. But this is just a basic black two tier bento I was using here.
Soy Sauce Cherries!
Mini Dressing Holder
Here are some of my older bento’s featuring cute accessories. I loved those cute Cherry ‘soy-sauce’ containers. I couldn’t find them again online – but here are some equally cute containers! Here are some silicone Cups similar to the ones I constantly reuse for my bento’s. But I also love using the paper ones because they come with cute designs on them.
Pink Bento Picnic
Black Bento Picnic
Heart Bento Picnic
Bento’s don’t have to just be for lunches either. I’ve brought along my bento boxes at almost all of the picnic’s I have had as well. They are a quick and easy way to store berries, nuts and cheeses, chocolates, salad’s etc. Plus they are much better visual display of the spread than the containers those items usually come in. (any way to add a little cuteness to the platter layout!)
My bento’s lately have been very simple. Lots of raw vegetables and fruits – accompanied by a sauce or dip. Some simple fake meat and cheese roll ups. I like to add little yogurts or beverages on the side as well to complete the meal.
What about you, have you ever tried a bento? Do you pack your own lunches for work? Bento boxes are readily available at most Asian Grocery Stores, and tons of them online as well! Get to making your lunch cute today!