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What Goes in a Bento Box, Five Fundamental Rules

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What Goes in a Bento Box, Five Fundamental Rules

Bento boxes have become extremely popular for young and old. The container which serves as a useful medium for carrying healthy lunches while on the go or used at home for traditionally cooked Japanese recipes can be divided into two types; the everyday sensible bento and the decorative or traditional bento.

The five fundamental rules of what goes in a bento should possess the following qualities:

What Goes In A Bento Box
What Goes In A Bento Box

It need not be restricted to a Japanese menu: Though the bento box originated from Japan, it can also include non- Japanese food items. You can pull in from other cuisines provided they fulfil the above mentioned fundamental principles of what goes into a bento. You will be able to prepare and pack your bento box in no time when working with familiar ingredients.

High on taste

It’s an obvious rule that a bento meal is prepared to meet your needs to contain foods that are tasty and delicious to eat.

High on nutrition

The bento meal should be reasonably healthy and include almost all four nutritional bento food groups. A box content that leans more towards protein, veggies, fruits and less on carbs constitutes ideal food content. It is however okay to add a few sweet dishes to one of your bento compartments.

High on visual appeal

The arrangement of the food items within the box should be visually appealing. It has been said that you eat first with your eyes, and hence, the food should look tempting and be tasty.

Ease of preparation

Content of your bento meal should be easily prepared and packed. Keeping a weekly planner for your bento box lunches or dinners will greatly help in this context.


A homemade meal prepared from fresh ingredients and packed into a bento can save huge sums otherwise spent on meals on takeaways or in restaurants. You save money without compromising on food quality.

Besides the above basic attributes, following are a few more things that can be kept in mind:

Safety aspect needs to be considered

All food items packed into your bento should be safe to ingest several hours after its preparation. Foods that are fine to be packed into a bento include well-cooked proteins, cooked veggies, raw salad veggies that remain fresh, preserved foods like pickles etc., dry foods like crackers and nuts, carbs that are flavoursome and safe to be eaten at room temperature.

Takeaway foods to be avoided

Foods that do not remain good for hours after being packed should not be included in your takeaway bento box lunch. These include items like undercooked protein, for example, undercooked tofu or raw fish sushi etc. These should only be used when eating at home or have a place to refrigerate your meal.

All said and done, What Goes in a Bento Box, Five Fundamental Rules is an excellent mode for eating nutritionally balanced, colourful, appetising meals at home or while on the go. Keep in mind the basic principles of what goes into your bento, and you shall score high on your health charts with as less dent to your pockets as possible!

Read our post on How to Prepare a Japanese Lunch Box

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