I find that most of the internet is filled with ideas for kid bentos, but not so much for adults. The kid ones are very cute, but I want adult food and I don't want to make my food look like cartoon characters. There are a few sites that I do like to read that I feel are nonfrivolous to the approach of bento making:
I have also come across people on the internet that feel if your bento is not filled with traditional Japanese foods, it is just a boxed lunch and shouldn't be called a bento. This is silly. Bento means boxed lunch. Does this mean I have to call my lunch a different thing every time it has a different cuisine in it? Yeah, I'm not going to do that. Bento it is.
There are a lot of guidelines for a traditional bento, but they do not really work for me like a bento should not need to be kept cold or heated. Sorry, sometimes I want heated leftovers. Or that it should include three parts rice. I like rice but I really do not want rice with every meal.
I think making a bento work for you and what you like to eat is best, rules be damned. But: I feel that the rules do work really well as a base for creating your lunch, you just have to figure out which ones.
Here are a few of the guidelines that I try to keep in mind when I'm putting a lunch together because I feel that these are the easiest to apply and adapt:
First "rule": Goshiki or Five Colors
- red or orange
- black, purple or brown
I try to apply color variation to when I make dinners as well. The more colors mean more varied vitamins and nutrition. Also, more colors make a prettier bento! If you have foods that are all the same color, the food looks very bland and unappetizing. This usually only works if you were going for a theme, like an all green bento for St. Patrick's day.
Second "rule": Goho or Five Methods
Third "rule": Gomi or Five Flavors:
This one makes sense to me because if you cover all of these, you shouldn't be craving anything after. An all salty bento would have you reaching for a candy bar after. Or maybe that's just me. Eating the same kind of food is boring. A bento should be a feast for the eyes and the tongue!
I do not manage to accomplish all of this in EVERY lunch, but I do try! Keeping all this in mind does force me to think of different items to add every week.
So I will try to take more pictures (and make a "pretty" lunch more often) and maybe do a compilation post at the end of each week with some details on the food and prep involved. It's one thing to snap a quick pic for Instagram, but another thing altogether to make a blog post about it!