As the school year starts back up once again, the thought of spending time to prepare lunches can make the already busy days feel overwhelming. The good news is that Japan is home to a powerful lunch tool that can ease the stress of back to school: a back to school bento box.
No matter where in the world you happen to be, you can make bento boxes a regular part of your day for kids and adults alike. They are versatile, save time and even offer the opportunity for fun and creativity with your food. If you need some inspiration for bento meals, check out the following.
Why Bento Boxes Are a Great Back to School Tool
A back to school bento box can be a lifesaver when it comes to back to school time. They offer a great opportunity for meal prep, cutting the time spent each day on packing a lunch, and because they focus on fresh, real foods, they offer a healthy and filling option for your family. They are easy to hold and carry, which means that lunch becomes as simple as grabbing a bento box out of the fridge and being on your way.
Putting Together a Bento Box
Bento boxes are a great canvas for creativity when it comes to food, but all of that freedom can feel confusing at first. If you are struggling to know how to put together a great back to school bento box, consider not only the portions but also their placement.
Bento boxes are valuable in that they allow you to separate the meal into defined sections using either physical dividers or more stylized ones, like leaves of lettuce. Approximately half of the bento should consist of carbs (in Japan, this is often rice, but it does not need to be).
One of the remaining thirds is typically dedicated to protein, and then you can split the remaining third between fruits and veggies. Remember too that colorful foods tend to be healthier, so consider how you can add pops of color to a bento to spruce it up.
Egg salad sandwiches are popular in the bento’s homeland of Japan, but kids love sandwiches in all shapes and sizes. One square sandwich cut in half into rectangles generally fits perfectly into the carbs portion of a bento; if you feel like being creative, consider using multiple types of sandwiches in one bento box! Cool, colorful additions like crisp grapes and cherry tomatoes go well with sandwich bentos.
Gyoza, or potstickers, are another bento staple. Whether you make them at home or buy them in the frozen section, keep some leftovers from dinner to add to the next day’s bento box. Potstickers can be a great source of both carbs and protein if they have meat filling, and they go well with veggie and fruit sides such as broccoli, cabbage and even avocado.
No, not the eight-legged variety—although if your family likes octopus, that could be a great choice too! Octopus bentos more commonly refer to meals that contain either hot dogs or sausages that have been cut to resemble an octopus.
It can take some practice to get the wieners looking like happy octopuses, but they will be tasty no matter what. And since kids usually love hot dogs with a bit of ketchup, this is often an easy hit accompanied by lighter, sweeter sides to counter the salt; think corn, strawberries or even mild cheese.
For something that feels more authentically Japanese, consider onigirazu, or rice ball sandwiches. These give you the opportunity to use leftovers in creative ways by putting the chicken, pork or even Spam from dinner into a nori-wrapped rice ball sandwich. Consider adding lettuce or egg to the rice sandwich, which is best accompanied by more bitter offerings such as pickles.
Get Your Bento Box Supplies from the Experts
Bento boxes can have an amazing impact on your daily prep, which means that you want your bento box to last a long time without coming apart or becoming scratched and dirty. And perhaps even more importantly, you would like the bento boxes that your family eats out of every day to be safe.
At Kangovou, we understand that common plastics contain PVC, BPA and melamine, which can impact the food stored inside. Kangovou offers stainless steel containers to keep your food safe, including bento boxes that can be used for years to come. If you are in need of ethically manufactured, food-safe bento boxes at a reasonable price, consider reaching out to Kangovou to see which option might fit your family best.