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A lesson in Bento


We took the kids to the Utah State Fair today.  Mostly because we have a friend from Japan visiting (last summer’s exchange student). Anyway, check out what they are serving at the fair this year:

I’m speechless! Deep Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, twinkies, snickers and oreo’s. My, how far we have fallen!  I didn’t try these, but did let cereal boy enter an all you can eat ice cream festival!  Then, when we walked into the cow barn, Anna looked around and said, “Delicious!”  I laughed so hard I almost cried.

I had been eyeing some fabulous Bento boxes for some time now. The people in Japan use these little boxes to take their meals to school or work in. I haven’t been able to find them in the States, so I asked our friend to bring me some from Japan. To further illustrate the smaller portions they eat in Japan, I filled my new bento boxes.

Wow we eat too much. This is their lunch. Actually, they do fill their boxes better than I can. Here are some cute pictures Anna found online to show how much food they put in their box.

And here are the boxes Anna brought for us. Two child sizes, one adult. These boxes are about 3 inches by 5 inches. The red boxes are intended for rice in the bottom box, and vegetables in the top box. My kids want to bring them to school, but I’m too afraid I won’t get it back.

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

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very cute boxes and even cuter food!

i need to get one of these boxes for my daughter’s lunch box.

oh and i have to say that as a good southern girl, i think you could deep fry shoe leather and i would enjoy it! thus, why i am trying to raise my kids different. oh and i’m pretty sure that i have finally trained my stomach to not like foods like that so i am pretty sure if i ate those foods my body would punish me!

Oh…I love bento boxes too! I keep buying them even though I know I don’t need that many! To justify it, I pack bento everyday!!

Yea, it is a concern that the kids won’t bring it back. Happened to me once and it is my kid’s favourite too!! A Love and Berry (Japanese character) one. Good thing I manage to find it at the school canteen.

This might seem weird, but I was wondering how much you spend on groceries a month. I’m trying to get my family (of 3) to eat healthier, but am finding it expensive to buy more fruits and veggies. I currently live in Okinawa, Japan (I love bento boxes too!!) and our fruits and veggies can cost a lot (last week a watermelon was on sale for $25). I currently spend about $150-200 every 2 weeks, but want to break it up into every week. Any advice you can give me would be great!! I love your blog for eating healthy!! Thanks Tricia

Come to Texas! We have fried pumpkin pie, fried coke, fried cookie dough, fried latte, fried EVERYTHING!!! It is SOOOOOOO Gross!

Thanks for the links to the Bento Boxes ladies. I’m so excited to get some more. And for my southern readers! WOW, I had no idea people were still deep frying things. I do remember in college some gals from the south went out to buy a deep fryer before Thanksgiving to deep fry their turkey. Until then, I had never known you could deep fry an entire bird. But Heather!!!! Fried Coke???? I don’t even understand how you do that!

Tricia, I think it would be very hard to save money on food in Japan. My short answer is, I budget $500 per month on food, but I almost always go over, so apparently it hasn’t been realistic. I am so ready to crack down however. Produce is expensive, but meat and cheese are even more expensive. So for the next few weeks, I’m going to substitute many of our meat dishes with beans (very cheap) and really keep track of my expenses. I just updated my “price list” where I can keep track of the best prices for food. And I will update you when I get a true result of what we’ll spend, my goals, and what food we are eating.

The best prices for some great produce for me have been in the freezer! Frozen fruit and frozen vegetables in my area are usually cheaper than fresh, and as long as they don’t add sugar, are a great part of a healthy diet. Stock up on this when they are on sale. Then make sure to use inexpensive yet healthy dishes such as beans, rice, and oatmeal.

Good luck! I promise an update in a week or so.

I’m a little in the dark here. I just heard of Bento boxes about a week ago in an article in The Washington Post about making school lunches. But I STILL don’t know. What exactly is a Bento box, and how is it different from any other box?

Hey Jill! OK, they are just regular old boxes… but #1, They are cuter! #2, they are smaller in size than a lunch box, thus the lesson in portion sizes. #3, many of them come with little dividers to separate your rice from your other food, or they have stacked boxes that tie together to separate your food. And they are cheap! In Japan they are like $1.00!

Hey Amy,
I know Crazy Hu? Fried Coke!!! It was at the Texas State fair last year. So what they do is just pour the coke in the oil like you would a funnel cake batter and it bubbles up and fries into cripy, greasy, SO GROSS, Coke ball thingys. Who eats this stuff anyway?