How to Pack a Bento-Style Lunch
Monday was our official unofficial first day of school. What that means is that my teacher husband’s first official day of work is on Wednesday, but band camp started Monday. Go ahead — leave me a comment if you’re a former band geek or a current band parent because we LOVE you! I figured that as long as Daddy was going to be out of the house, we might as well get to work so off we go. Monday also signified the beginning of lunch-making season. We homeschool so obviously we eat at home when Grandma or Grandpa doesn’t stop by to take us out for a lunch date. But, my husband takes his own lunch every single day or suffer the consequences of high school cafeteria food.
Four years ago I discovered the art of bento. Bentos are basically a Japanese version of the American brown bag, but way cooler and healthier. I was fascinated with bentos as an interesting way to eat healthy on the go. There are “rules” for Bento packing. The ratio of food in the Bento is 3:2:1 — 3 parts grain/1 parts protein/2 parts veggies. I’m not sure I still agree with those ratios as we tend more towards 3 parts protein/2 parts veggie/1 part grain now. But Japan’s version of grain is rice and ours is just plain carbs. Different family members get different size boxes depending on age/weight/height. The food is packed in separate little compartments and sometimes put in cupcake liner type holders to keep the flavors from melding together.
Fun, huh? You can check out Lunch In A Box for some pretty awesome bento ideas!
Packing a bento-type lunch can get tricky because you should have a bunch of different little compartments. I just used what I had on hand, though:
In that little container on the right is tuna salad, kept separate so the bread doesn’t get mushy. You can see the veggies and fruit.
This year, we’ve upgraded a bit to Rubbermaid’s Lunch Blox.
These are pretty neat. I really like that I can use them right inside the plethora of lunch bags we already have, but if you want a bag to fit the blox, Rubbermaid has those, too! I love how all the different containers snap together — I literally turned it upside down and nothing moved. That’s a definite plus when your lunch bag is jostled around.
This set is the sandwich set. It has a container for the sandwich (bonus no more baggies to buy!), a medium container, two small containers and the ice pack. I love that the ice pack fits right in. The individual containers are perfect if only one part of lunch needs to be reheated, too. And you can keep dip or dressing separate in the small containers. The one caveat I’ll give to these is that tops are pretty sturdy and are hard for little fingers to pry off. So these may not be ideal for your Kindergartner.
We don’t do sandwiches that often so I was happy to see that Rubbermaid also offers an Entree Blox and a Salad Blox as well. They also have a printable coupon right on their website if you need one — I know I do!
Need some ideas for lunch using the Blox? Here are some super cute ideas from Emmy Mom.