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Bento Box: A Fun Way to Pack School Lunch

Posted Sep 10 2009 10:14pm

When you find yourself staring into the fridge at 10 o’clock at night, or perhaps 6 am, and find nothing of note to pack for lunch, consider creating a “bento box”, similar to the LapTop Lunch concept. Bentō is a single-portion meal commonly found in Japanese cuisine. It also stands in as a perfect home-packed lunch suitable for school (or work), commonly served in compact, compartmented box. A traditional bento consists of rice, protein, and assorted vegetables and/or fruit.  So it can be relatively easy to pull together from whatever you have on hand, a protein (eg., some turkey roll-ups, a scoop of tuna salad, chunks of marinated tofu, or cocktail shrimp), add some raw or slightly steamed vegetables, and chunks of fruit. Certainly some sticky rice, preferably brown, can be included for an authentic touch, which requires a bit of planning ahead.

Use what's in your fridge to create a colorful, fun, tasty school lunch

Use what's in your fridge to create a colorful, fun, tasty school lunch

There’s a chance for your creative juices to flow, and your nutritional aspirations  to reign supreme without being obvious.  If you need a good example of this lunch approach, you might check out a few apt blogs such as  Lunch In a Box or Just Bento, filled with how-to’s, recipes and discussion forums.

Bentos often reflect the Japanese belief that each meal should have five colors, which jives nicely with the US food pyramid and dietary guidelines for Americans.  It naturally encourages variety and promotes plenty of vegetables and fruit. For the best result, strive for a balance of flavors, textures and cooking methods, such as steamed, raw, grilled, and baked).  There is a wonderful New York Times article about serving up lunch Bento-style in today’s edition, which may provide some inspiration.

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