Bento Lunch Box
A bento is a meal packed into a box. Bento boxes is part of the everyday life for many Japanese but this habit of packing your own lunch is really a great idea for the rest of us too. When you pack your own, you can make it healthier and include only the ingredients you like or have on hand, this is also a money saving hack and potentially, health saving too, if you are mindful about incorporating healthier options in your bento.
Carbohydrates are an important component of the bento. Rice is usually the choice of carbs in bentos and a quick health hack is to cook rice with Alchemy Fibre™ For Rice to enjoy lower GI, higher fibre, fluffy white rice. Of course, we should look to include protein sources and colourful fruits and vegetables to complete the meal. More tips and ideas below!
for assembling your bento
Bento Lunch Box Ideas
Cook the rice. Short-grained rice are preferred in bentos as they are easier to shape. Wash and drain the rice. Add one heap tablespoon of Alchemy Fibre™ For Rice to the rice with the usual amount of water to cook. If you are only using a small amount of rice for one bento, cooking more and freezing ahead for future bentos is a great idea. Just pack the cooled down cooked rice into portioned airtight containers and keep in the freezer for up to a month.
Short-grained rice is so versatile for bentos as they stick and hold their shape better. This gives room for much creativity. For example, instead of the traditional onigiri shape (rice ball), you can shape the rice into cute bears or rabbits. You can include salmon flakes or tuna mayo into the rice balls for a good source of protein too.
Eggs are great inclusions in a bento. They are high in protein and nutrients and so versatile. You can make hard boiled eggs or the Japanese tamagoyaki. Just note that half-cooked or runny options do not keep well in a bento and are certainly not recommended in light of food safety.
Eggs are also fun to decorate for a bento. Just a quick slit on a hard boiled egg and adding black sesame seeds will make a cute pac-man egg.
Make your bentos extra cute and nutritious with these cut-out carrots. To make these extra tasty, we cut out the carrots, simmer with some freshly squeezed orange juice and orange peel (without the white bitter part of the peel), sugar and a pinch of salt. Add just enough juice to submerge the carrots. Cook for 5 minutes until tender. Drain carrots before packing in bento box. You can make some ahead of time too. This will keep well for up to a week in the refrigerator submerged in the simmering liquid.
You can also use shape cutters for cheeses that cut well, these will make excellent garnishes as well.
Sausages can be made into octopuses too. Just slit the ends and boil the sausages so you can see the tentacles appear. (refer to assembled bento image below).
What’s a bento without seaweed? Besides using in makis (rolled sushi), consider making cue facial expressions with seaweed and attaching them to your rice balls to brighten up anyone’s day!
More Bento Lunch Box Ideas & Tips
Making variations of the bento is easy with as long as you get the basic decorating ideas above. Here are more tips and ideas to set your creative juices flowing:
- Instead of sausages, consider making meatballs ahead of time and freeze them. Thawing them on day of use can be done quickly and you can elevate flavours with a teriyaki simmering marinade to cook the meatballs.
- Flavoured rice works well for bentos too; try cooking rice in dashi stock, Alchemy Fibre For Rice, and add mirin, shoyu and sake together with carrots, edamame and Shiitake mushrooms.
- Blanched vegetables work well too if you don’t like to eat raw ones. Consider blanching leafy greens like spinach, cool in cold water to prevent wilting, then squeeze out excess water before dressing in a roasted Japanese dressing.
As you can see, there are a myriad of ways to put together a bento. Getting excited now? We look forward to seeing your bento creations. Join our FB group
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One way to make your fried rice healthier is to add Alchemy Fibre™ For Rice when cooking the rice. Doing so will help to increase the fibre content of the meal (10x fibre of regular white rice) and help to lower the glycemic index of white rice to the same range as brown rice. Make your meals healthier for you and your family starting today!