Bento a go-go, baby!

October 18, 2011


It’s me again. I know I haven’t been around much lately…sometimes I get swept off my feet by life’s adventures and I end up neglecting the digital world. But now I’m here…and I’m going to talk about food!

Today I forgot my lunch at home.

My work place is in a pretty remote area and generally speaking, the closest place to grab food is a good 15 minute drive in every direction. There is a staff cafeteria but it serves food that is so greasy, it makes a stick of butter look healthy.

Back when I had poor nutritional knowledge, I ate there every day. It was not a good thing.

Nowadays, one of my long-term health goals is the simple task of making my own lunch to bring to work. I had never been good at this (hence eating at the cafeteria all the time), but boy did it ever change my health for the better. Making your own well-balanced lunch is a hard habit to build but believe me, it’s SUPER beneficial. When you pack your own lunch, you have complete control over what goes in your body. In the long-run, switching from cafeteria food to self-made meals made all of my other health goals SO MUCH EASIER to accomplish.

But like I said, today I forgot my lovely self-made lunch at home. Having nowhere else to get food (and to spare my coworkers from my hunger-rage mode) I opted to eat a cafeteria meal for the first time in months.

This is what I consumed:

So here we have a grilled BLT sandwich (the bread was soaked in oil, there was a lot of salty bacon and the lettuce/tomato had zombie-like qualities). That yellow thing was breaded cheese. Yup…BREADED CHEESE. There was a salad. That wasn’t so bad. The meal was supposed to come with not one but TWO breaded cheese things. Luckily I convinced the server to give me more salad in place of a cheese thing.

…and to be honest, this was actually one of the healthier plates I’ve seen served there. Consuming this opened my eyes and reminded me of the junk I was putting in my system way back when I ate this stuff every day.

But let’s get back to the point of this post: Self-made lunches.

Somewhere along the way I realised that making my own lunch ran the risk of becoming mundane so I decided to try something a bit different.

Where I’m from back in Canada, healthy boxed lunches are pretty accessible. I lived on the border of Chinatown so for me, grabbing a bento before work was almost habitual. Partially out of being a geek and partially a need to spice up my daily lunch, I started to experiment with traditional bento making and it has since aided my quest for better eating because it’s the perfect model for portion control.

A bento meal can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. I got a little creative:

Here you see cooked salmon (lightly breaded and cut into bite-sized pieces), bean sprouts topped with baked sweet potato (YES THEY ARE SHAPED LIKE HEARTS, BEARS AND STARS…leave me alone), cucumber, green beans, and grapes.

I don’t make my lunches this fancy all the time but it’s a nice treat every now and then. A lot of the things I put into my lunches can be cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge (thus speeding up the daily assembly of each lunch). However complex or simple the meal is, I still always try to balance them out with appropriate servings of veggies, protein, fats, and carbs.

For traditional bento ideas, my go-to blog is Just Bento. It’s an excellent site that offers tips, tricks and recipes for healthy bentos.

Now if I could only convince the guys at work to open up a soup and salad bar…


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