Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Bentos: trying something new...again
I recently found that that in Japan, there is a traditional ratio for what types of food to put into a bento: 4:2:1, or 4 parts rice, 2 parts protein, 1 part fruits, veggies or other ingredients. The neat thing about this is that if you use this ratio, the size of the bento box - in mL - is actually about how many calories you'll be filling the box with. Since we can't use grains, typically, our bentos have always been harder to fill with calories.
Which is why we're so happy to find some larger sized bentos: 1200mL! I wish they were not made of a plastic, but the wood or bamboo ones are 1) smaller and/or 2) a heck of a lot more expensive. We'll have to work our way up to those.
Usual adult-sized bentos range from 500-900mL, at least the ones I've found. In my family, the kids had 600mL bentos and those felt a bit on the light side for food, although the kids don't fill them as full as they could. My kids are both over the age of 10, though, and unable to eat much grain, so that may explain it.
This site has some really fun bento ideas that got my creative juices flowing again.
And this site shows how full you pack a bento, plus tons of other info: http://justbento.com/handbook/bento-basics/bento-no-39-how-to-fill-bento-box
I think the latter information is SO valuable, because we're used to packing a lunchbox here in the west, where you tend to have a lot of space to play with and a lot of that space is left empty. With bentos, you want every bit of it filled with food.
We like bentos for lunch when we've had the time to pack them, but all our attempts to be more on the ball about them have failed. With our new bentos, we're trying once more to get up in the mornings and pack the bentos for later in the day. Not only is it kind of fun, it can also helps us for those times we want to head out spontaneously - we'd already have our food set and not be hampered by the extra hour we need to make food.
I've found a couple of neat looking planners that might help with this:
A weekly lunch bento planner: http://justbento.com/files/bento/images/weekly-bento-planner-us.pdf
A weekly meal planner for all meals: http://justbento.com/files/bento/images/weeklymealplanner1US.pdf
Plus a weekend meal planner: http://justbento.com/files/bento/images/weeklymealplanner1USpage2.pdf