For a few years when I was still in the workforce, I used to prepare bento lunches religiously. To the point where work colleagues used to ask what was in my lunch that day. During those years, preparing bento was a source of pride, satisfaction, and all good things. People asked me how I managed to put it together in the mornings—even now I ask myself how I used to get by prepping on a daily basis—but I guess if it’s something you enjoyed, you’ll make the time and effort for it.
1. Bento is cheap.
Don’t listen to people who say you have to have this and that doodad and thingamagig. At its heart, bento is a packed lunch that’s put together nicely. It doesn’t have to be expensive and when you stick to the program, it comes out cheaper than going out for a fancy schmancy work lunch.
You can simply set aside portions from dinner and save it for tomorrow’s lunch. No fancy food shopping, no fancy bento gadget shopping needed. While shopping for bento gadgets is fun (I confess, I have loads of said unnecessary doodads and thingamagigs), you can get away with putting together a satisfying bento lunch with just the normal tools in your kitchen and a container to pack your lunch in. Heck, charaben even, as long as you’re handy with a knife.
2. Bento is healthy.
If you strictly follow the Japanese parameters, you’ll be having a well-balanced meal each day. It’s usually 3 parts carbs, 2 parts vegetables and fruits and 1 part meat. It’s like the food pyramid in packed lunch form.
Some may argue about carbs, especially if you’re on a special diet, but that’s the beauty of it. Since you’re preparing your lunch yourself, it can be as healthy as you want it to be. You can control what you put in, so you can stick to your dietary restrictions, something that’s not as easy to follow when you’re buying lunch at a shop.
How did time saving get here? Sure it’s extra effort to prepare it in the morning, but like I said, you can always rely on leftovers that don’t take extra time to prepare with your other cooking.
And it’ll save you extra time when it matters, like during that crazy lunch hour when everyone has the same idea. Instead of walking out of the office and lining up somewhere to grab some grub, you’re already eating. If your office allows it, you can even eat at your desk. That was something I found useful, especially when I needed to work over lunch for some rush requirements.
Because you choose what you eat, it’s bound to be something you find appetizing. I doubt you’ll pack something you don’t find appetizing, do you? Since bento tends to offer a variety, you also appease your appetite for different flavors, so I’m sure you’ll find something to satisfy your hunger.
5. Creative Outlet
I’ve always found bento to be a creative challenge. My mind is forever churning out food combination ideas, plus creative uses for ingredients to depict images. What may be a simple onigiri to some, can easily be transformed into a samurai onigiri. Have a tomato slice? With some squinting (and a bit of nori), it can be a cute little ladybug!
6. Portion Control
Trying to lose weight? Bento is the perfect choice for you then because it’s a great way to practice portion control. Instead of packing humongous slabs of meat, bento requires a more moderate hand, relying on manageable portions and variety. You get small helpings of various things, making that standard matchbox-sized portion of meat nutritionists preach seem actually feasible.
7. You Are What You Eat
Because you are what you eat! And with that in mind, I’d rather be a trim, well-balanced, healthy, beautiful person than a sloppy, unhealthy mess right?
Convinced? Get started with bento! Join the Kitchen Cow 7th Anniversary Bento Giveaway!