If you’re meal planning and looking to add Bento boxes to your mix, you’ve come to the right place! These popular Japanese-based meals have been around since the thirteenth century and come in a variety of sizes and styles.
Bento boxes are popular in the United States due to their simplicity and ability to provide you with a healthy dose of protein and a meal full of different textures and flavors. With them, you can create a meal that has carbs, protein, veggies, and a tasty snack all in one convenient food box.
These boxes are perfect for lunch and if you’re looking to create a calorie-counting meal approach to aid your diet goals, they’re definitely a good option to consider.
Let’s take a look at some awesome Bento Box recipes!
Teriyaki Bento box
There’s never a wrong time to enjoy a bit of teriyaki chicken or beef. Check out this beef teriyaki recipe and use it for your next bento box. Pair it with white or brown rice, a side of sushi, and grilled or sauteed veggies for the perfect lunch bento box.
Burrito Bowl Bento Bowl
This burrito bowl bento can do perfectly as a quick lunch or evening meal. It’s packed with tasty protein from the pulled pork and black beans.
It can be paired with vegetables, a nice salad, or a mixture of fresh fruit. You can also use chicken or beef for your burrito bowl a red with sauteed bell peppers, onions, and rice.
Mediterranean Salad Bento
Are you a big salad fan? This Mediterranean salad is full of fresh vegetables, making it perfect for your taste buds and aesthetically pleasing.
It makes for a perfect bento box main dish and it can also be used as a side dish if you want a main meal with more protein. Consider different variations to try a new adventure each day with this bento box idea.
Chicken Pesto Z-Noodles Bento
If you love zucchini noodles then break out your little spiralizer and use them to make your next bento box. This meal has homemade pesto and a ton of other “goodness” that can make for with the perfect lunch bento box.
Vegetarian Taco Wraps
Sometimes it can be hard to find a good vegetarian-based bento box. Well, here’s a good one to consider. It’s packed with beans, cheddar, and veggies.
Feel free to switch up your sides and add any additional vegetables or fruit to your liking. This goes perfectly for quick lunches and after an afternoon training session.
Salami and Cheese Bento Box
If you’re looking for a quick lunch or snack between meals, check out this bento box. This salami and cheese bento box is perfect for both adults and children who take their lunch. You can also squeeze in a few crunchy vegetables and tasty snacks such as a cookie or granola.
Paleo Breakfast Box
If you’re currently on the paleo diet, this bento box is definitely for you. Say “no” to all the carbs and check out this bento box as it is full of jerky, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, and nuts.
Pita bread Bento Box
Love pita bread? Hate cooking? Here are a few recipes that will work well for you. There are so many ways to eat pita bread, that we could enlist just one. If you’re looking to add it to your next bento box consider pairing it with vegetables, fresh fruit, grilled meat, or a side of dip. Check out a few ideas here.
Ham Sandwich (aka “Sammie”) Box
Transform your everyday ham sandwich into one that is worthy of awards. Cut it into four pieces and pair it with fresh fruit, vegetables, or a little dips with a perfect lunch bento.
Teriyak Ham Roll Bento Box
If you prefer a low-carb option, check out this ham and asparagus roll bento. It’s low on calories and candy made in less than 30 minutes.
BBQ Tofu & Potato Salad
If you’re anti-tofu, you may change your mind with this simple bento box meal. The barbecue sauce in this recipe does wonders for the tofu–a place if you aren’t early down with plant-based protein. Pair it with a side of sauteed veggies, fresh fruit, or a small salad…and don’t forget a small treat.
Shrimp Fried Rice Bento
Looking for a shrimp bento box that’s bursting with flavor. Here it is! This tasty shrimp bento is easy to make and can be paired with a number of sides including salad and sauteed veggies.
Baked Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp And Asparagus Bento
If you’re a fan of garlic butter shrimp, here is the perfect bento box for you. Add in a few pieces of asparagus (or your favorite vegetables), a bit of rice, and you have the perfect bento box. This tasty recipe can be made in a matter of minutes and can go perfectly for lunch or an evening meal.
Taco Tuesday Bento Box
Who said you can only eat tacos on Tuesday? No one. This Mexican-style bento box works well for any day of the week. Substitute the tortilla chips for wraps or rice and you have the perfect lunch. Add a bit of pico salsa, black beans, corn, and sliced avocado for extra yumminess.
Kid Bento Box Ideas
We also had to include this list go-to ideas for kids’ bento boxes. Here, Amy (the author), did an excellent job of rounding up a few could go-to ideas to help you make your children’s bento box in a flash. The list includes leftovers, breakfast, and salad ideas. Check them out here!
A good bento box is all about presentation. The contents matter to come up with the presentation is what makes these boxes unique. Each different compartment adds a different element to the entire tree and there are a few different styles to consider.
What Are The Different Bento Box Styles?
Bento boxes can be constructed in a few different ways. Here are the most popular ones.
The most commonly used Bento box style is Makunouchi. This box has two sections, one commonly being rice, and the other is usually any type of fish, meat, vegetable, or salad.
This bento box style is commonly used for children’s lunches and is great for helping small children expand their palate and food variety. If you’re looking to introduce new foods to your kids, consider this style a bento box and slowly add new things to the mix.
How To Construct A Good Bento Box?
The steps to assembling a good bento box are pretty simple. Remember, you want your bento box to look good, but you also want it to have the right mix of foods. So, as a good rule of thumb follow a 4-3-2-1 ratio.
With this style of box, you’ll need to have four parts of rice, three parts of protein, and then two parts of veggies, and 1 snack or treat.
A good place to start is to decide with protein and veggies or side items you want to include in the box. From there, you can pre-cook your rice and meat, and then store them in the refrigerator or freezer for the next day.
The next day you can create your bento boxes. Here are a few food ideas and tips to help you make a bento box that’s both balanced and nutritious.
Unless you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, the main section of the bento box should have a protein. This can be anything from a few pieces of sirloin, sliced sandwiches, chicken wraps, fish, meatballs, grilled chicken, casserole, or seafood.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with it, especially if you’re meal planning for weight loss.
Vegetables and Fruit
You can use frozen, roasted, or raw, or stewed vegetables for your bento box. This can also give you a healthy dose of fiber which food will keep you full throughout the day.
You can use brown, white, jasmine, or any other type of rice for your bento box. You can also consider lentils and grains (such as (Couscous and quinoa) for this section.
If your bento box has lean meat such as chicken, fish, or turkey, it may be a good idea to add a bit of healthy fat to your being till box. Consider using a bit of olive oil (if you have veggies or a salad), fresh avocados, or nuts and seeds for a healthy dose of fact your bento box.
Add Something Crunchy
You can also consider adding a bit of crunch to your bento box. The easiest way to do this is with tortilla chips, crackers, veggie straws, or nuts. Almonds, cashews, and pecans can goal wonderfully with almost any bento box–and they’re perfect for snacking.
Tasty Dips & Chips
A good dip can be the perfect addition to your bento box, especially if you’re not completely hungry but just need a snack for the next few hours. Bean dips, salsa, guacamole, hummus, tapenades, onion, and cheese dips can all be great additions.
Sweets for the sweet
And last but certainly not least you have your sweet section. This, of course, is optional, and depends on the type of box that you’re making. Consider adding a couple of sugar or chocolate chip cookies to your box to take care of that sweet tooth.
You can also include a healthy snack such as granola, apple squares, banana muffins, and oatmeal cookies. And of course, fruit slices whether they’re fresh or dried is always an easy and quick option.
Quick Tips For Arranging Food A Bento Box
- When adding your food to your bento box, always use the dividers to your advantage. This will prevent your foods from running into one another, which can cause them to stick together and make for unappealing flavors.
- It’s important to think of the size of your bento box when you are preparing your food. Make sure that each food section is small enough to fit inside of the box with the lid closed.
- If you don’t have an insulated lunch box, you’ll also want to consider what foods may need to be reheated. Before preparing your bento box, make sure that you keep all of the cold foods together as well as the hot meals. This will help you reduce any time spent preparing and separating the foods before you chow down.