My first thought, when I realized I was going to be posting for this week was: “But . . . sushi and tempura are the only things I really like at Japanese restaurants . . .”
Before this week, I knew very, very little about Bento (I still don’t think I’ve scratched the surface). I know at restaurants they come in those lovely lacquered boxes, with nice compartments for different foods. I know that the lunches are very, very popular on Pinterest, and the pins are always artfully designed combinations of rice, meat, veggies, fruit, and/or fish. They’re styled in a way that doesn’t look like food, and are way too adorable to eat. (And totally beyond my skill set.)
With no clue what to do, I turned to google.
What I discovered:
- Bento, specifically, is the box.
- The food can be pretty much any variety you want.
- Different sources suggest varying ratios of carbohydrates, to protein, fruit and veggies (4:2:1:1 was a common one).
- A major focus is on the aesthetics – which is why the boxes are so pretty and the Pinterest posts are so cute.
- The box should be so full that the food doesn’t really have space to move around.
- The combination of foods should be balanced and varied.
- A Bento Box is NOT just a lunch box.
An excellent resource was Just Bento. The author wrote a cookbook – but has some great recipes and discussions about different Bento concepts.
I threw together a Thai quinoa salad, full of veggies. I’d also wanted to add some more vegetables with my clementine and yogurt but I completely forgot to pick them up at the grocery store. I will, however, be bringing this for lunch tomorrow.
The things I loved learning about this week were the focus on the look of the Bento and the ratios. I won’t necessarily use the 4:2:1:1 ratio with carbohydrates, but I did see some with a 2:2:1:1 for protein and carbs. It’s another way to think about being healthy.
The aesthetics was something that I was surprised I found myself wanting to implement. See, my weekday lunches either consist of going out to the same places, or a bunch of stuff tossed in various containers or Ziploc baggies, thrown into my lunch bag and eaten at my desk. Brainstorming about how to put together a nice-looking lunch was like a whole new way of looking at things. I could buy a new container, focus on bright colors, fresher foods, more fruits and vegetables! All those things made lunch sound like a much more enjoyable experience (rather than heating up my lean cuisine and snacking on carrots).
While I definitely failed at Bento this week, I hope to keep trying to add it to my lunch routine in the future. (Plus I get to buy a fun new container!)
Come back next week, Lisa will be taking on stew!!
(which sounds amazing, because as I write this, I’m freezing!)