A few months ago, during the height of COVID-19 on the East Coast, I received a LINE note from a friend in Japan. Like so many of us, her kids were out of school due to COVID-19. She shared what I am sure are many of the shared parenting concerns around COVID. One was around maintaining normality and joy within each day. She went on to tell me that she continued to make them their lunch boxes each day. In Japanese, lunch boxes are called Bento boxes. She included a picture of the day’s bento box (see photo heading this blog <3 ☺)
Before my girls went off to college, I would make them box lunches similar to my friend’s. They were often not nearly as impressive as a traditional style Japanese Bento Box. Still, like any parent, I made them with love, and I always had fun constructing them.
As we move into the new school year – homeschooling, at school, or something in the middle, Bento Boxes can be a fun way to add enthusiasm around the school day.
Not sure what a bento box is? Check out this link to a beautiful post, from the Japanese-American Society. It will educate you on all-that-is Bento (the history, art, and more on Japan’s food culture):
While there are many cute and fun Bento Boxes out there, I recommend those with stainless steel inserts (or inside layers that come into contact with the food). If not, look for BPA-free boxes. If you have an Asian grocery store near you it is likely you will find a few Bento Box options.
Try using naturally occurring colors (carrot rings, mint leaves, red bell peppers, or pickled diced vegetables as garnish).
Don’t be afraid to try new foods and get creative with the food.
Presentation is essential (visual cues start the digestion process).
Let the artistic side of you have some fun!