Nutrition, Useful tools, Wellbeing
Should you use a bento box?
12 March, 2021
They’re certainly the lunch box of the moment, 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. Many bento boxes are also super durable, reducing the need to buy a new lunch box year after year.
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. Yes, the choice is theirs to make, but when they’re choosing from a selection of pre-prepared, healthy options, you’re both winners!
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. Some are even specially designed with a gap around the edge of their silicone seals, preventing mould from developing underneath.
Did you know that, in some bento boxes, you can pack yoghurt in one compartment and crackers in the next, without having to worry about leaks or spills? Perhaps the most beloved bento lunch box on the market, the Yumbox, has a leak-proof seal that prevents liquids (think tomato sauce and thicker, not watery) from spoiling the food in the rest of your tray, ensuring 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 children 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 possible a snack item like a muffin or vegetable stick and hummus.”
Here are some fun twists on your traditional sandwich for the bento box!