“Bentō (弁当 or べんとう?) is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables as a side dish. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware. Although bento is readily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops (弁当屋 bentō-ya?), train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend considerable time and energy producing an appealing boxed lunch.
Bento can be very elaborately arranged. Contests are often held where bento arrangers compete for the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements. The food is often decorated to look like people, animals, or characters and items such as flowers and plants. This style of elaborate bento is called kyaraben.
There are similar forms of boxed lunches in the Philippines (Baon), Korea (Dosirak), Taiwan (Biandang), and India (Tiffin).”
I’ve decided to start making Bento. There are several reasons. One is…well, they’re so darn cute. So much more attractive than the typical brown paper bag or most of the commercial lunch bags and boxes you find. I have two that are both promotional giveaways so I’m advertising on my lunchbag. Not attractive. Another reason is interest. A sandwich, chips and fruit every day gets to be downright boring. Then there is health. I am really trying to cut out high fructose corn syrup and the best way to do that is to make food. That means cooking meals and eating leftovers. Those leftovers will go into my bento. I’ll also be making bento from scratch. Westernized at first. But I have a great rice cooker I love and am going to learn how to make sushi rolls. I can get sticky rice and nori sheets easily locally. There are five Japanese markets close to my parents’ neighborhood so shopping will be easy.
I’m making the small sideboard I’m using as an island in my kitchen into a bento station. I’m moving the canned goods I store there to the bookcase I use as a pantry in the garage. That will free up space for my bento boxes and drawers for my accessories. The top is my workspace.
I’ll take a few pictures of my better attempts.
You’ve got to eat lunch. No reason why it can’t be fun.