Have you heard of the ‘Bento box’? It’s a Japanese tradition which is fast gaining traction here in the UK.
In short, ‘Bento’ is a single-portion takeaway or home-packed meal. While in Japan, a bento box might contain noodles, rice, fish and meat and cooked or pickled veg, in the UK it could feature everything from sliced eggs, to cubes of cheese, crackers and slices of ham.
The Kitchn site delves deeper into the subject over here, suggesting that ‘snunch’ – snacks masquerading as lunch – is also becoming a key trend in food.
So, just how do you do ‘snunch’ properly? Here are our top tips to help you pull together a tempting bento box – perfect for work, picnics or to tuck into on the go during summer days out.
Ensure Your Bento Box is Balanced
If you’re going to make lunch a series of small ‘snacks’, make sure you have a good balance of carbs, protein and fat. Try not to load too much sugar into your box. Instead, use it as an opportunity to cram at least a couple of your five-a-day in. Think carrot sticks with some hummus; apple slices with a dollop of peanut butter; or guacamole with some chunks of cucumber.
Prep Your Box Early
The great thing about bento-style boxes is they can be prepared in advance – and that’s because the food you pop in them is designed to be served cold.
Saving you time before work, prepping your box the evening before will ensure you can head out of the door and enjoy a stress-free morning. While bento boxes usually come with dedicated compartments to make adding different food items a breeze, you could make things even easier on yourself by buying already-boxed snacks, such as raisins or sultanas.
Take Inspiration from the Internet
Not sure what to add to your bento box? Google is your friend. The Greatist site has plenty of ideas over here, with options that work for adults and kids.
Have a good look and see if you can come up with some new bento box fillings for every day of the week. It’s also worth having a sneaky look at what cafes and other eateries are doing. Some branches of Starbucks, for example, offer pre-packed disposable Bento boxes for lunches or snacking on the go.
Create a Themed Bento Box
If you’re struggling to come up with lunches your kids will enjoy tucking into, try a themed bento box.
These can be structured around key calendar events – such as spookily-themed boxes for Halloween – or you could try mixing it up with a different foodie theme, like Italian or French.
You could also opt for ‘a cheese and biscuits’ box, complete with grapes, chutneys and, of course, cheese (ideal for adults) or ‘dessert’ boxes, with the aforementioned apple and peanut butter combo, strawberries and a good dark chocolate dip (or Nutella), or anything else that takes your fancy.
What would you put in your bento box? Let us know by commenting below.
Until next time…