If you find yourself googling for some school lunch inspiration, there’s no escaping the feeling that the standard has jumped up a notch or two. It seems the day of the plain old vegemite “sanga” with apple, fruit popper and home bakes are long gone with the rise of the Bento box, which is well and truly taking over the Western world.
Originating in Japan, the Bento box is described as a home packed meal that has carbohydrates, protein and vegetables… all neatly packed into a divided, box-shaped container. Japanese homemakers take great pride in their creations, arranging them into characters that look like cute Japanese cartoon characters. This effort is all in the hope of enticing their kiddlewinks to enjoy their food and encouraging a wider range of good eating habits.
It all seems to make sense really, but it’s time-consuming… well, yes, and I often wonder that if we start creating these masterpieces for our children, are we creating a rod for our own back? Time is the biggest constraint that we have as parents and usually, we are searching for shortcuts, not ideas that are going to sap more precious minutes out of each day.
I guess we can only take inspiration from the Japanese and use it to an extent. They don’t suffer from the childhood obesity rates that Australia and the US are finding themselves drowning in, nor do they revolt against the food on their plates but are more prone to accept what they are served.
Other benefits of Bento boxes are:
+ Reduced waste – the compartments keep your food from touching
+ Health benefits – portion sizes are controlled with ratios being set out before your very eyes
+ Making food fun – jazzing up otherwise unappealing foods into something exciting
So if you’re interested in taking a leaf out of our Japanese friends’ book, here are a few sites to help you on your way:
Happy Little Bento – Sherimiya will guide you through with meals with a hint of Asian influence
Wendolonia – with over 1000 packed lunches under her belt, Wendy is a Bento box pro!
Bentobloggy – is your go-to Bento blog for unique and fun ideas for getting your kids to eat what you eat – in a whole new way.
BentoLunch.net – with a weekly linkup on Wednesdays, there is plenty of amazing creations floating around.
BentoMonsters – full of tutorials, tools and recipes for the beginner Bento boxer.
How creative do you get with your school lunches?