The other day while surfing around on the endless TV channels, my children and I agreed to watch “Despicable Me.” My young cubs enjoyed half of the movie until they fell asleep and needed to be carried to their beds. Needless to say I chose to use their nocturnal slumber as an opportunity to catch up on reading, filing, etc.
When the kids woke up they began shooting items and showing them to me. “See Mama,” said my preschooler cupping her hands, “It’s so tiny. I shooted the stool and now it’s teeny.” The children were referring to the prized miniaturization gun that premised the movie, “Despicable Me.” Take aim, fire, and whatever you shoot becomes a lilliputian version of itself. It got me thinking. My thoughts swooped and fell down the Chutes and Ladders that I refer to as my mind and I imagined a world where everything was made smaller: food, cars, houses, appliances…
One of my favorite things to do is make my children’s lunch. Using a bento box, I can easily portion out food and make sure that my kids are eating a balanced meal. Imagine taking the gun from “Despicable Me” and shooting it at a typical meal. Rather than bags full of chips or sandwiches squeezed tightly into containers, the bento box is an ideal way of bringing food down to size. While no such weapon exists, we do have the power to miniaturize that which we put into our mouths in addition to making sure we are guaranteed a well-rounded or well-compartmentalized meal.
Bento boxes originated in the Far East, namely Japan but can also be found in the Philippines, Taiwan and in India where they are referred to as “tiffins”. They are containers used for making meals on the go. According to Just Bento, a bento box should be leakproof, microwavable, easy to wash and take care of and the container should be the right size for your dietary needs.
Some bento boxes have little compartments while others are open spaces to fill. I like using the ones with compartments as they focus my attention to providing wholesome meals that include fruits and vegetables, a protein, and carbohydrates.
Bentos are great for adults too and are particularly helpful when trying to lose weight. A friend of mine, Tom Reeves, is a professional body builder. He credits his success as a professional to using a pumped up bento system produced by Six Pack Bags. You can choose either the three meal bag or the five meal bag. For kids, a bento system by Laptop Lunches provides not only the bento with compartments but the insulated lunch bag as well.
I have had luck using a fabulous little find from the grocery store. Browse the reusable container aisle at the grocery and you can easily create your customized bento or tiffin at very little cost.
There are lovely images of bento boxes all over the Web. In Japan there are even contests for making the “cutest” bento box meals; those resembling anime are very popular. While there are bento recipes available you do not need to be elaborate creating your bento; just make use of the space making sure you have appealing color, are eating from a variety of food groups and that your food is yummy.
Join the growing Small Revolution and continue to read my upcoming articles as I feature miniaturizing foods (i.e. pizza cupcakes), homes, and travel.
Be sure to post on the blog or on the JumpSport Fitness Trampoline Facebook page or Twitter, @FitTrampoline to share your bento boxes, recipes, ideas, weight loss success or finding that your child has eaten ALL of her lunch and not left the vegies for you to find when you clean her lunch box.
Until then, happy bento’ing!
Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades
Writer and Social Media Correspondent