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How to pack Healthy Lunch Boxes in 15-min

Every morning, we face the usual hustle: preparing and packing nutritious lunch boxes for the family. Keeping everyone enthusiastic about wholesome food daily was another hurdle to overcome. After experimenting, we customized the Japanese Bento Box for our family. Here’s our journey.


Understanding the Bento Box

A Bento Box offers a balanced mix of foods in a single portion, typically consisting of rice, fish, and vegetables, sometimes pickled.

The Japanese Bento Box and the Indian Thali have several parallels:

  • Both present an array of diverse foods—veggies, proteins, carbs, pickles, and desserts—sectioned into distinct compartments. This setup lets you savor a balanced meal filled with a myriad of tastes, textures, and nutrients.
  • The flexibility in these meal styles is noteworthy. With the same ingredients, you can cater to individual tastes and health requirements. A child might get a well-rounded meal, while an adult might opt for a low-carb version.
  • In both, we can introduce new flavors, textures and diets to the kids. For instance, we incorporated small amounts of millets into their meals to familiarize them with its taste.

However, they also have their distinctions:

  • Form: The Indian Thali is set for dining in, while the Bento Box is grab-and-go. Bento Boxes promote portion control. Unlike Thalis, you can’t endlessly refill them.
  • Focus: Indian Thali establishments usually highlight the food’s diversity and richness, often via limitless buffets. The Bento Box, on the other hand, showcases the Japanese commitment to beauty and balance. Each Bento is carefully curated for visual delight, presenting an array of colors and occasionally thematic elements, like food shaped as animals or characters.

Streamlining Our Morning Routine with Bento Boxes

Rigid plans didn’t work for us. Between our entrepreneurial ventures and parenting roles, unpredictability was the norm. Yet, the Bento Box offered a framework adaptable to our daily demands.

During weekends, we whipped up sides to last the week. Every morning, influenced by the day’s vibe, we assembled together our boxes.


Sides We Opt For:

We skip store-bought granola bars, cookies, gummies, and rollups. Instead, we prepare nutrient-dense real food at home and keep it ready for the week. Below are some of the sides that we prepare:

Proteins

Proteins sustain our energy, so we carefully consider which ones to include in our bento boxes. Once we have a protein source, we craft the rest of the box around it.

Form Factor

We oscillated between rice paper rolls or cabbage leaf wraps, noodles, or sometimes, neither.

Vegetables

Essential for nutrients, we aim to include more vegetables than fruits in our bento boxes. Our favorites included carrots, cucumber sprinkled with sea salt, and pickles. Our options spanned from cucumber, carrots, bell pepper, celery, to radishes, sprouts, olives, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. These vegetables only need to be washed and sliced before being placed in the bento box.  Pro tip: Blot vegetables with a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture before placing them in the bento.

Green Leafy

Sauces and Dips for health fats

Sauces and dips provide lasting energy and healthy fats. We often include hummus (made from chickpeas) and guacamole (made from avocados). We also sprinkled in nuts or seeds. Alternatives included sliced avocados or chickpeas.


Crafting Our Healthy Lunch Boxes

Here are some Bento Box examples we’ve curated for our meals.

Rice paper rolls filled with spinach, 🥕, 🫑

Sautéed 🍄, crispy brown rice with scallions

🥬 wraps with 🥒, 🫑, pickled Ginger and 🥚

Red Beans sautéed with 🍅 along with 🥦 🥒.

Vegetable rice paper rolls with feta cheese.

Millets with 🥕 🥦

Beetroot, 🥬 🥕🫑 rice rolls with Peanut sauce

Air-fried Spring rolls with 🥕🫑

Fusilli pasta sautéed in tomato with lots of veggies 🫒 🥦 🥕 and little cheese

Marinated 🥚 with Hummus and celery 🥬

Quinoa and chickpea with 🥦, 🥕, cherry 🍅

Sautéed noodlesgrilled paneer with 🥦 🥒, and , cherry 🍅

Hummus with 🥒, Beet Root, 🫒, 🍒 🍅, and 🌿.


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