Please be easy on me, it's my first post in the forums here!
I'm so surprised that there aren't any posts on Bento-ing here; or at least not where I could find them. And before I get a member of the grammar patrol on me, it does seem that the word has evolved to the point that it can be used as a verb!
Are there people here on MFP that make Bento lunches to help control their calories/portion sizes? If so, what kind of things do you add to your Bento box? Do you have favourite recipes that you regularly use to help with your dietary goals?
As an office worker who has a long public transport commute, after much trial and error (and a few leaked lunches on the train
), I discovered Bento lunches through the JustBento
website when looking for healthy lunch ideas. The idea of using the concepts of a traditional homemade Bento lunch to control the size of your lunch portions as well as their transportability appealed to me, and after giving them a go, I was hooked.
Just to clarify, I'm not talking Charaben/Kyaraben here (those cute yet unhealthy artistic lunches that look like cartoon characters and take hours to make). I hate to think what gets put into some of those lunches for the sake of them looking like a piece of artwork.
I find that now for me, the almost ritualistic habit of making my Bento each night for my lunch the next day to be essential to controlling what I eat whilst I'm at work (I can be a bit of a mindless eater and don't always realise that I'm actually putting food in my mouth), as well as being very aware of portion control and serving sizes. I have to think about what I'm going to eat for the week in advance, I can pre-cook meat and freeze it in portions required, same with my carbs, it never takes me more than 15 minutes during the week to do (about an hour of pre-cooking and freezing on the weekends) and I feel good knowing that I've formed a healthy eating habit that I enjoy greatly.
I also love the fact that my Bento's look
good as well since neat and tidy packing is the key to a good Bento lunch - because food that looks pretty is generally more fun to eat, and if it's fun to eat, then you're more likely to enjoy the food itself. I mean, people buy those fancy birthday cakes, and fondant icing tastes horrible (sweet plasticine anyone?)
I rarely ever comment on MFP, generally staying to the lurking shadows of the forums (seeing some of those threads evolve from a simple question into macro/lowcal/sugar/fasting/give-me-a-scientific-reference-or-be-damned arguments scares me to posting silence!), but when making tomorrows bento before dinner (I made it extra neat and used some fun cutters to liven up my vegetables since we having a New Years picnic lunch), I thought I'd make the dive into the forums and reach out to see if there were Bento-ers around, see how they made their Bento, and to maybe get some great new ideas for foods/recipes to add to my repertoire. I really want this post to be about ideas and recipes for foods that are:
- Easily transportable (please don't suggest sandwiches, as that's pretty much a given!)
- Can be eaten at room temperature, or only need to be stored in a basic insulated bag
- Can be packed tightly without smooshing (is that the technical term?)
To start with, this is an example of my Bento for my breakfast, lunch (in this case a more Japanese traditional style) and snacks that I have at work, just made prettier than normal for our work picnic tomorrow (hey, it's lovely and warm in Australia right now - come and visit!):
The foods you can see here are:blue containers
- white Japanese rice (140g), with 1/4tsp rice seasoning and pickled plums
- 5 lean beef mince meatballs, cooked and glazed with a small amount of soy sauce, with lettuce and tomatoes with filling
- 1 cup of lightly blanched vegetables (carrot, capsicum(peppers), broccoli, snow peas, brussel sprouts)pink container
- 80 grams strawberries, quartered
- 20 grams blackberriesgreen container
- 15g each of blueberries and raspberries
- 100g natural yoghurt (unflavoured) with cinnamon.
For reference, the three Blue containers stack together, and have a total capacity of 490mL; the two square containers are 120mL and 70mL (normally I'd just use one container that has dividers). Throw in a babybel light mini-cheese and you have there a total of 545 calories that took me 15 minutes to make (maybe add 30 mins if you include me cooking a batch of mini-meatballs on the weekend that gave me 10 lunch servings) and leaves room to have a couple of coffees and maybe a cookie during the day without wanting to fret about my calories.. Except for the cheese and the seasoning on the rice, the food is cooked from scratch with in-season vegetables and fruits (so much cheaper!), and there are no preservatives in sight. They fit in a small carriable insulated bag, which I find is essential when taking peak-hour public transport.