I usually eat at school on mondays, so today I packed my very first bento 🙂 I read some stuff about japanese bento lunches and here are the most important facts that might be interesting for you.
The bento is basically a lunch packed in a box. Japanese adults use to eat it as well as their children and beyond the simple definition of a lunchbox there´s a whole philosophy following this guidelines:
– Bentos always look appetizing. They are colorful and attractive and most parents decorate them for their children to make the healthy food more likely.
– The food is packed uncluttered; you don´t want the foods and flavors to mix.
– The bento lunch should be healthy and balanced. That for, japanese people use a ratio of 2:1:1; two parts carbs (usually rice, but you can use noodles or bread etc. as well), one part proteins (egg, meat, tofu…) and one part vegetables and/or fruits.
The classic bento is made with japanese foods, but also “western” bentos use to be sold in Japan and they can be quite tasty. So don´t feel obligated to make your bento with japanese groceries! Two things that you should mind are to pack the food tightly (to keep it on his place) and to use “room-temperature-resistant” food (or else ice packs to keep it cool). There are special bento boxes http://en.bentoandco.com/collections/bento-boxes but in my opinion they aren´t necessary; I use a metal container ore simply a tupperware box.
If you don´t want the food to get wet, you should cool it down before closing the box. Besides this helps you to keep germs away (they love warm, humid places). It´s helpful to use small containers for the sauce, I kept the soy sauce container from the sushi take away and refilled it.
I made my bento with sushi rice (carbs) garnished with spring onion and spiced with rice vinegar and a little sugar and salt. As proteins I used teriaki chicken ( I had a pre-mixed teriaki marinade). My vegetables and fruits were grean beans, some cucumber and a few strawberries.
Well, enough of theoretic stuff. Just try and enjoy your bento! It does n´t matter which vegetables, carbs and proteins you exactly use: following this concept you will receive a delicious and healthy lunch!