Bento, bento, bento – Filling a 2.5 cup box with randomness

Japanese bento boxes are measured in milliliters, so that 2.5 cups is a 600mL bento. The really cool part about portion control like this is that for authentic boxes, the capacity is supposed to also line up with about how many calories are in the box.

LIAB has some really awesome charts for how large bento boxes should be based on age or height. It also has various breakdowns of ratios of food groups to be in each box. So for example, the general rule is 3 parts grain, 2 parts vegetable, and occasionally things like meat, fish, dairy or fruits, but no candy, junk food, or fatty foods.

On some days, that 600mL of food seems like an absolute ton. Other days, I feel like I’m not sending enough food. It just depends on what I’m sending that day and just how crammed I make the boxes. I haven’t been following a set ratio, but tend to lean toward having a main grain dish, sometimes 2, a veggie portion, and fruit. They’re big fruit eaters and this meal is when they usually get their fix for that.

Most days tend to be completely different (read: completely random), even if I’m repeating various sides and using the same proportions

Here’s some of the boxes from the last few weeks:

  • Brown rice with peas, onions, soy sauce
  • A row of green beans
  • Steelhead nuggets
  • Grapes
  • Peanut butter with crackers, alternated with banana slices

  • Salmon with spicy diced tomatoes
  • 12 grain cracker things for the fish
  • Boiled egg
  • Sliced oranges
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Ants on a log, celery with peanut butter and raisins

  • Taco pockets (recipe soon)
  • Twix bar from Easter (shhh, it’s breaking the no-sugar rule)
  • Boiled egg
  • Celery and peanut butter
  • Prunes (yay for them liking prunes, woo)
  • Blueberries in the ziploc bag
  • Leftover fish taco, rolled like a burrito
  • Vegetable straws
  • Homemade pineapple mango fruit roll up leather
  • Half a banana
  • Leftover jambalaya