Do You Bento?

I would rather not talk about how many times I've wound up eating lunch on the subway (I really need to schedule my time better),

or to explain exactly how much I actually spend on food in a week (the decision process is usually "pay for opera tickets to Carmen, or buy groceries. Carmen or groceries.... hmmmm")

or how I've been trying my hardest to stay away from a diet of ramen and the dollar menu at McDonalds (you know what happens to a boyish figure when they get fat? It all goes into the gut, and we look like an apple with little toothpick legs and arms. Not good).

Thankfully I found inspiration on my grocery trip to Chinatown and the answer to this dilemma is bento.

While there are many types of bento, from some really gorgeous formal dinner makunouchi bento, to picnic style kouraku bento, to eki bento which is sold at train stations, as prepared meals for travelers (the kind I'm eating). However, basically bento is a meal in a box. You really can't get any more simple than that.

Reasons to Bento?
1. Eating at home is always less expensive than eating pre-prepared food. You pay for labor.

2. The small box size and little dividers helps with portion control. People always seem surprised by how small portions actually are supposed to be.

3. I'm more willing to eat my veggies when they look pretty. Please don't ask me to explain the phenomenon. It's my inner kindergartner talking.

4. You could also throw in the "No plastic bags! Good for the environment!" schtick.

5. It's kind of fun. Reminds me of a grown up version of elementary school brown paper sack lunches, except prettier. And you know, Asian.

So without further ado, here is some of my inspiration

Of course they don't have to be as elaborate as these (I do aspire though).

My bento is usually just brown rice, steamed pea pods or broccoli, maybe a little chicken (or more veggies and fruit, depending on the budget situation), a little container of plain yogurt and honey, and some dark chocolate (come on, a girl needs her dessert).

If you're interested in jumping on the bento bandwagon, some good places to start are:

Just Bento for recipes and getting started and I Love Bento for supplies and inspiration.


Rebecca, The Clothes Horse said...

I do like a good bento and it always amazes me how cute some people make theirs. My thing for groceries is buying all the ingredients; i.e. fresh veggies and flour, rather than a "made to eat" meal. It's more time-consuming, but it's usually cheaper and better for you.

Cafe Fashionista said...

Okay, why have I never heard of Bento before? Not only is it cute (I mean, who can resist cute food?), but it also sounds so yummy! You've convinced me to jump on the Bento bandwagon, Erin! :)