Bento Box Lunches for Back to School

September 22, 2022

The fresh-start energy of a new school year brings out everyone’s best intentions, whether

we’re the one returning to a classroom or getting back into the rhythm of sending the kids off

to school.

Make the most of back-to-school this year! Raise your lunch-making game with a Japanese

bento approach to packing the mid-day meal. The bento box is a much more efficient and

attractive alternative to the traditional American lunchbox. Its multiple compartments allow for

easy packing of an entire meal in a single attractive container. So, there’s no need to use

wasteful plastic baggies or to wash out all those small containers every day.

The bento approach to lunch is – in contrast to our typical PB&J with a bag of chips or crackers

– a fully balanced meal that’s satisfying, easy to transport and perfect for any appetite or

budget. A bento lunch is traditionally made up a combination of 30% protein (fish, meat, tofu or

eggs), 40% starch (usually rice), 20% vegetables (usually pickled and called “tsukemono”) and

fruit for dessert. You can make your own or buy them pre-packed and ready-to-go in most

Japanese convenience and grocery stores.

Back to school season is an ideal time to rethink the lunches you pack. Try the bento approach

this year.

Start with the right container

Bento boxes come in stainless steel, wood or plastic, and in every kind of design from

supremely elegant to downright adorable. Whichever aesthetic you choose, look for one with a

secure, resealable lid. The number of dividers in the box is up to you. Some people like a single

divider, others like three or four separate sections. If you like soup or stew with lunch, consider

stackable cylinders rather than a flat box. An easy, delicious way to add soup to your bento is

with Yamasa Ramen Broth concentrates. Miso Ramen Broth is light and delicate. Tonkotsu

Ramen Broth is creamy and satisfying.

Accessorize

Browse online or in Asian grocery stores for forks, spoons and chopsticks. If you want to go a

step further, there’s a broad array of food cups, picks, and dividers to choose from.

Plan ahead

Make a little extra of the main course at dinner the night before packing a bento box. Pick up

extra vegetables at the market. Think about little touches like something pickled or sweet to

add balance to your boxes. Once you are used to preparing bento box meals it will come

naturally.

Make it a meal

Remember to include protein, starch, vegetables and fruit. The balance is what makes a bento

box so satisfying. And take advantage of the format to make the meal as attractive as one you’d

serve at home. After all, appetite begins with the eyes. You might even take inspiration from

the Japanese tradition with special cutting techniques, themed presentation, or fun ingredients.

Pro tip: The more tightly things are packed, the less likely foods inside will shift, maintaining the

aesthetics of your bento meal.

Inspiration

Here at Yamasa we’ve got a lot of recipes that fit nicely into a bento lunch. A couple of our

absolute favorite proteins to include are Miso Marinated and Grilled Chicken (made with our

Reduced Sodium Shoyu and our White Miso Soup concentrate) or delicious Slow Cooker

Teriyaki Meatballs (made with our Shoyu and our Teriyaki Sauce). For an easy, delicious way to

add soup to your bento, all our Ramen Broth concentrates do the trick.

Bento box lunches make it easy to sit down, relax, and savor the experience of eating a

delicious, balanced meal no matter where you are. So go ahead and bento this year and make

lunch a highlight of the day.

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