Even though many of us are still working and studying from home, meal prep can still be a helpful tool when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety. Having your meals organized can help you focus on other tasks and make healthier choices – after all we don’t make the best decisions when we are hungry.
Starting a new habit, like increasing your intake of plant-based foods, can also be made easier by preparing a fun bento box ahead of time so you can enjoy whenever you want. Search for recipes with ingredients you don’t usually buy and try to make it seasonal. Mix and match flavors and textures and make sure to include all the macro nutrients you need in your plate: proteins, carbs, and fats.
We put together some tips below to help you starting your journey in creating a fun bento box experience. If you need extra inspiration, check out our Pinterest board on Meal Prep Ideas with tons of healthy recipes to get you going.
1. Find your container
First, find containers you like and that fit your lifestyle.
Glass containers are easier to clean and usually dishwasher safe, but they are heavier than their counterparts. Plastic containers are usually cheaper and easier to carry around. They are available in a large range of prices, sizes, and colors so check product information and make sure they are freezer and microwave-safe.
Finally, there are disposable eco-friendly containers for single use (if you are not into washing dishes). They are very convenient but may not hold your food for a longer period of time and are also not leak proof, but they are a great option for their convenience and save time by skipping the cleaning part.
2. Create a well-balanced meal
Bento boxes are a helpful tool for having a balanced diet because they have compartments, which helps you organize and portion your food according to your dietary needs. They can have three to five compartments and you can vary them and try new portions and textures for a varied plate.
For three compartments, the main food groups are grains, proteins, and veggies and fruits (usually placed together).
WHOLE GRAINS: Whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread, brown rice, wraps.
HEALTHY PROTEINS: Fish, poultry, beans, nuts, limiting red meat, cheese and cold cuts and other processed meats.
VEGGIES: Add variety and colors when choosing your vegetables! Think carrots, beets, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, raddish. Try to eat seasonal and fresh.
FRUITS: They add a beautiful contrast to your box by creating a combination of texture and flavors. Try to vary your favorite fruits with new seasonal fruits you find in your next trip to the supermarket or farmers market.
3. Focus on variety and presentation
The key to bento box is variety. Think about creating an experience when you put your meals together. The more colors and textures you add the healthier your combination will be. A bonus for your bento box is adding a treat so you can enjoy a smaller portion of your most indulgent foods and still be committed to a healthier lifestyle.
4. Eat mindfully
After all the work and thought you put to create a healthy and beautiful meal take some time to appreciate and enjoy it. Before you start eating, take a few breaths and consider how hungry you are. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and look at your food and think about how it will nourish and fuel you.
By chewing slowly and savoring each bite, evaluating your hunger situation several times as you eat, you are being mindful of what you are putting in your body and respecting your hunger signals. Eating slowly and mindfully will help you adjust to smaller and healthier options.
Want more inspiration for your next Bento Box or Meal Prep? We’ve gather some ideas just for you in our Pinterest Board. Check it out here!