The Asian-inspired bento lunch boxes are all the rage for kids and grown-ups alike. What makes the bento lunch box so special?
The word “bento” is derived from the Chinese Southern Song Dynasty term biàndāng, meaning convenient. A bento box is a reusable lunch box that typically holds a single portion meal consisting of a main dish and some sides in beautifully designed, fitted compartments. The traditional bento box is a beautiful, hand-crafted wooden lacquered box which is today a symbol of Japanese culture and ideals. Bento boxes were first used in the United States by Japanese-American sugar plantation workers during the 1980s.
Now, bento boxes have caught on here in a big way. The word “convenient” is important to modern Americans. The bento box is designed to let you pack a variety of food into a small space. A bento box lunch helps the environment by replacing single-use plastic and paper products with a functional, stylish lunch box. Taking your own lunch to work will save you money while also helping you eat healthier, home-made food.
Bento Box Meals
A true bento box meal includes four types of foods: carbs, protein, vegetables, and fruits. Carbs are usually the greatest proportion, and fruits and vegetables being the least. As a matter of tradition, the food should include at least one dish in the following colors: red or orange, yellow, green, white and black.
Here are some excellent healthy lunch ideas for your kid’s bento box or for your own grown-up box:
Mediterranean Bento Lunch
This healthy and delicious bento box meal combines Greek salad, hummus, pita, grapes, olives and more for a satisfying work lunch. Get the recipe here.
Buy the Asian-style chicken dumplings in the freezer section of your grocery store and build your lunch around them. Add an assortment of fruits and vegetables and you’re good to go.
Black Bean Mini Burgers
Use black bean patties (home-made or from the grocery store freezer section), sweet potato fries, sliced avocado dipped in lemon juice and some tomatoes. Add a side of baby spinach with balsamic vinegar dressing and strawberries. Voila.
Salami, Cheese and Crackers
It cannot get any easier than this. Assemble a handful of your favorite crunchy crackers and some slices of a good salami (instead of salami, you can use any lunch meat of your choice). Nestle it all on top of some crispy, fresh asparagus spears, snap peas, carrots, and whatever veggies you love. In the smaller containers, put in some fresh berries and fruit slices dipped in lemon juice to keep them fresh all day.
Assemble some Triscuit crackers (flavor of your choice) and some white cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. Add some peanut butter (use organic for a super-healthy spread) and some cucumber slices, too. Round out your lunch by adding to the smaller sections of your box some salt and peppered hard-boiled eggs, some apple slices, and fresh berries of your choice.
Low Carb Protein Box
Cut the carbs with this bento box meal. Fill your box with fresh fruit, jerky of your choice, a hard-boiled egg and almonds. Get the recipe here.
Burrito Bowl Bento
Layers of carbs, proteins and veggies make a great bento box lunch. For the bottom layer, use brown rice, white rice, wild rice, quinoa or sweet potatoes. Next, add your protein of choice. Try black beans, pinto beans, chili beans, or cooked beef, chicken or pork. Top it all off with peppers, jalapeño peppers, corn, cheese, lettuce, avocado, sour cream, olives, spinach, salsa, guacamole, barbecue sauce, tomatillos, sriracha sauce and/or whatever you love. Get the recipe here.
Rainbow Chicken and Veggies
Use a sheet pan to cook everything at once the night before. In this recipe, you have tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli and onions, along with chicken, all layered on top of brown rice. This single recipe gives you a week’s worth of healthy meals that are perfect for your bento box lunch. Get the recipe here.
Refried Beans and Cheese Quesadilla
Slice up an avocado, dip it in lemon juice, and you’ll have fresh avocado all day long. Or mash it up into a little guacamole, add some refried beans and an easy-to-make cheese quesadilla and you’re set. If you’re not a fan of the beans, substitute some chicken for a satisfying meal.
Kangovou’s BPA-free Bento Lunch Boxes
Like all of Kangovou’s dishware products, Kangovou’s BPA-free bento lunch boxes are made with high-quality stainless steel, and contaminant-free plastic. With Kangovou products, you know you will not be exposed to the dangerous chemicals commonly found in most popular plastic food-container alternatives. Kangovou products are 100% BPA-free, PVC-free, lead-free, melamine-free, and phthalate-free. The Kangovou Bento Boxes are sleek, reasonably priced and beautifully sized and sectioned so your food stays organized and fresh.