Benefits of a bento box
14 October, 2022
Have you heard of bento boxes? They’re the lunch box of the moment, having gained popularity over the years thanks to brands like Yumbox. But what are the actual benefits of a bento box? Here are just a few of them…
Traditional to Japan, bento-style lunch boxes are beloved by parents far and wide for their convenience, variety and durability.
While Western bento lunch boxes look a little different to their Japanese namesakes – which are traditionally wooden, most commonly in a shokado (rectangular) or hangetsu (half-moon) shape – they share at least one thing in common: they can safely get food from A to B, with minimal mess. No wonder parents love them so much!
Here are a few other reasons bento boxes are so popular…
They’re good for the environment
Of all the benefits of a bento box, saving the planet is one of the most important. Their built-in compartments mean different foods don’t have to touch one another, avoiding the need for single-use plastic bags or wrap. Certain brands of bento boxes are also super durable, reducing the need to buy a new lunch box year after year. While they may seem overpriced, it can be worth investing in some of the more established bento box brands when you consider that many parents use theirs almost daily for over five years.
They’re great for fussy eating and food aversions
Parents of picky eaters or children with food aversions will agree that serving foods that are touching is always a hurdle – but with a bento box, there’s no need to worry! Not only do the different compartments keep everything separate, but the variety of different foods can help picky eaters feel more empowered about what they’re eating. The choice is theirs to make (they’re just choosing from a selection of pre-prepared, healthy options).
They’re easy to clean
Packing an assortment of individual containers into your child’s insulated lunch box or cooler bag isn’t just a logistical, Tetris-like nightmare – it’s also a hassle to clean at the end of the school day. Opting for one bento-style lunch box tray is so much easier, as some can be popped on the top rack of your dishwasher. When choosing a bento box, look at the silicone seal on the lid and make sure there is a gap around the edge – this will prevent mould from developing underneath the silicone.
Thanks to the aforementioned silicone seal, bento boxes allow you to pack yoghurt in one compartment and crackers in the next, without having to worry about leaks or spills. These leak-proof seals prevent liquids (think tomato sauce and thicker, not watery) from spoiling the food in the rest of your tray. This ensures that your children’s lunch will look – and more importantly, taste! – just as good as it did when you first packed it, even after being in a school bag.
They help kids eat a balanced diet
Just as traditional Japanese bento boxes do, bento-style lunch boxes encourage a balanced, well-portioned diet. In an interview with SBS, senior Nutrition Australia nutritionist Aloysa Hourigan says bento boxes “help you regulate your portion sizes because each compartment is not large. You might have a small amount of, say, pasta or rice salad in one section… then in another compartment some protein… fruit in another compartment and possibly a snack item like a muffin or vegetable stick and hummus.” When it comes to choosing a bento box, look for ones that have been specially configured with optimum nutrition in mind – some will even label the different compartments for ‘Dairy’, ‘Grains’ and ‘Protein’, etc.
Running out of inspiration for your lunchboxes? Here are ten of our fool-proof lunch box recipes to try!