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Japanese Lunch, The Healthy Way


I hope you bear with me this week, as I share more Japanese food culture!  All the food information I am getting is from two Japanese girls, and I should add that the details here may not be true for all of Japan!


I think it’s fun to see what people eat for lunch in other countries though.  I know my kids get bored bringing the same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school everyday… and these girls had never tried a PB&J in their life!  Instead lunch in Japan goes like this:

  • Elementary school- Always school provided lunch!  Pre-school and High school, they bring a lunch, usually in a bento box as pictured above.
  • They eat soup at every single meal! EVERY SINGLE MEAL!  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
  • School lunch for elementary school is soup, a piece of meat, rice or bread, and fruit for dessert.  They could not believe my kids when my kids said there was a cookie at school lunch every single day!
  • In Elementary school, they are given milk to drink, every day.
  • The above Bento lunch is typical if they brought lunch to school in high school, or went on a picnic. It included a hard boiled egg, rice, broccoli, and ham.

Then, the facial features were made by cutting seaweed paper.  Which they were snacking on afterwards. lol



For some super cute Bento characters, visit Pikko’s blog!

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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hmm…very interesting! i wasn’t aware of the milk thing b/c i thought most asians were lactose intolerant, but maybe it’s more of a chinese thing?

Dana, I had the same conversation with the girls. I asked them if the dairy thing was new to this generation, and they said, it’s always been that way. I said, I thought Japanese people couldn’t tolerate milk, and they looked at me like they didn’t know what I was talking about. Anna cannot tolerate milk, but she said, most people do. I don’t know if there was a break down somewhere in our communicating, but I do know they drink milk for lunch every day at school.

I enjoy your blog every day, but I’m especially enjoying these Japanese editions. My husband and I lived in Japan for three year (Saitama-ken), and we ate school lunches and bentos. Generally, they were great! Always much healthier than the food kids eat here in Canada.
Thanks for the posts, and please keep the Japanese food ones coming! 🙂

I’m fascinated by the cultural differences in the way that we percieve food. I love that fruit is a dessert and cookies are infrequent treats. We have some friends stationed in Japan and they’ve sent bento boxes for our children. I’m amazed and grateful with how small they are in size!

My son has a friend whose mother is from Japan. She didn’t bring a bento box for lunch, but kind of did the American version – lots of little containers filled with good stuff. A favorite for her was a simple rice ball lightly rolled in black sesame seeds. I’m not sure what was in the rice ball other than rice, but she loved her lunch.

I spent 12 years growing up in Japan (Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture) my dad was a Marine. I LOVE the Japanese lunch ideas. I remember my mom used to make my apple slices into little bunny rabbits. You’ve given me some good ideas to get started on bento lunches as I want to get away from baggies and such in my sons school lunch.

These posts on Japanese eating have been so interesting–I like learning about other countries & their nutrition. My daughter isnt’ in school yet, but I bet she’d love a bento box meal. We do Muffin Tin Mondays sometimes, and I know that she’s more ready to try new/healthier things if they’re in a muffin tin….

I remember! Now if I can just explain it in words so much easier to just show someone.

Cut an apple (with the skin on) into wedges like normal. Then, take a small paring knife cut…ok wait I found a blog with instructions with pictures.
My mom used to make the ears smaller than this blog shows, she cut away more of the apple skin, but you get the idea. She used a small marshmallow for the rabbit tail and raisins for the eyes. You could stick them on using peanut butter.
I hope this helps!

I haven’t been in Japan but I know a little bit about their culture by watching animes, and the one that excites me is the way they prepare food. They just do not prepare food for you to eat it but instead they are making it a lot different from other country by being artistic.

I always loved japanese culture and food, and these healthy tips are so cool. I bet a lot of girls are going inside this because is cute and all. Finally an healthy food trend for kids..