This is the easiest way to switch up your healthy lunch each day!
Looking for a new way to add some excitement back into lunch time? Learn how to build the perfect bento box to never get bored with your midday meal again! Bento boxes are a fun, unique, and frankly adorable way to enjoy all of your favorite foods in one meal. They’re all the rage these days. You can create a combination that’s more adult, or switch up the ingredients to make them more kid-friendly!
What are Bento Boxes?
Bento originates back to 12th century Japan when they used to carry rice to and from work. Recently, bento boxes have become a big trend when it comes to meal prepping because they are so easy to make and take on the go. The beauty of bento boxes is that each food is separated into little compartments so you can add and pack an array of different options without them getting all mixed up. This is especially great for anyone with picky kids or anyone that has sensory issues and doesn’t like their food to touch. But of course, if you don’t have bento containers, you can use regular rectangle or square tupperware. Feel free to create your own inserts with foil to separate the food!
Feel Free to Mix It Up
Traditionally, bento boxes contain Japanese food such as sushi, sashimi, seaweed, tempura, edamame, and rice. That being said, just because bento boxes originated in Japan, that doesn’t mean they always have to contain Japanese foods. I like to mix up my cuisines by adding different food and flavors to my box. For example, you can do a sweet box with sliced fruit, Greek yogurt, nuts, and chocolate chips. You can even try a Tex Mex bento box with Southwestern Black Bean Salad, Mexican rice, ground beef, salsa, and cheddar cheese. Another popular option these days is to go the bento-charcuterie route. Assemble a box with cheese slices, crackers, grapes, and deli meats. The options for building bento boxes are endless! Use whatever ingredients you have on hand to fit your mood!
How To Build Your Box
When you’re building your bento box, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting a diverse range of food groups and nutrients. This means including protein, starch, healthy fats, and fruits and veggies. Here’s some ideas to mix and match for your custom box!
Protein is super important for energy and maintaining lean muscle mass!
- Grilled chicken breast
- 3-Ingredient Tender Broiled Salmon
- Turkey breast
- Sliced ham
- Smoked salmon
- Beans, such as our Cilantro Lime 3-Bean Salad
- Peanuts/peanut butter
- Greek yogurt
- Low fat cheese
Selecting a Starch
Healthy starches provide you with belly-filling fiber and more energy!
- Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, farro, or barley
- Grain-based salads, such as our Summer Fruit Quinoa Salad
- Baked sweet potato
- Warm Potato Salad with Fresh Herbs
- Roasted winter squash
- Whole wheat pasta
- Sweet corn
Picking a Healthy Fat
Healthy fat sources are those that offer essential, Omega-3 fatty acids. These are vital for fullness and mental focus!
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butter
- Classic Guacamole
- Olive oil as dressing
- Dark chocolate
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Add Some Fruits and Vegetables
Adding produce to your bento box will provide you with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more!
- Diced melon
- Fresh berries
- Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms
- Apple or orange slices
- Veggie sticks
- Fresh Lime and Basil Fruit Salad
- Mixed leafy greens
Other Fun Additions
Throw in something fun to set your bento box apart from the rest!
- Sushi Seaweed Balls
- Chocolate Covered Banana Bites
- Yam Balls with Coconut and Pecans
- Meat and Veggie Roll Ups
- Vegetarian Quinoa Meatless Meatballs
There you have it! Now that you know how to build the perfect bento box, let us know how you customize yours in the comment section, below!
For more fun and healthy recipes, be sure to subscribe to our eNewsletter, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Pinterest for even more articles, tasty recipes, clean eating tips, and awesome workouts!