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Bento Box Ideas For Lunch?

I recently discovered the fun world of bento boxes. I've purchased several for myself, hubby and my 3 year old but I'm running out of ideas on what to pack. I don't want to limit myself to Asian food all the time. We're Indian, and I cook Indian food a couple times a week, so I've tried incorporating that too. I have mini soy sauce bottles and small cups for chilli sauce and ketchup. I also have rice molds to make fun shapes with rice. I'd love to find some egg molds and those little paper cups to hold fried foods.

Some lunches I've packed recently were:
Mini samosas with mint chutney, grapes, and sweet potato "fries"
PB&J cut into shapes, grape tomatoes, Fritos, and fruit salad (3YO's lunch)
Hainanese Chicken rice with chilli sauce, sliced cucumber and melon cubes
Mini chicken burgers, carrot sticks, cucumber spears, ranch dressing, and apple slices
Potstickers with dipping sauce, edamame, asian 'slaw', and almond jelly

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  1. Try Middle-Eastern foods - they lend themselves to the "small dishes" approach. Make a big batch of falafel and you can freeze the extras for later. Serve with cucumber-tomato salad, spiced roasted veggies, tahini sauce (or hummus) and pita bread.

    1. Check out www.veganlunchbox.blogspot.com

      Tortilla wraps are great, just fill, roll and secure w/ toothpick. I don't plan ahead but use whatever we have that will fill in the little compartments. One is always filled w/ something baked from home. One fruit/vegetable.

      1. Salmon Croquettes, Mashed potatoes, broccoli w/ garlic, grapes
        Smattering of Water and Wheat Crackers, prosciutto, turkey, salami, cheeses, grapes and/or preserves, graham crackers
        Meat balls, wedge of cornbread, salad, cookie
        Teriyaki chicken, rice, asian slaw, mochi
        Mini petit fours or mini croque monsieurs cut into cubes, mini quiche, mini eclair, apple slices
        Quesadilla, salsa, chips, guacamole, cinnamon-sugar bunuelo chips

        1. 1. Japanese bento: musubi (rice balls) with ume boshi, teriyaki chicken, quick cucumber pickles, blanched tofu and spinach dressed with shoyu and lemon juice
          2. Mexican bento: chicken burrito or enchiladas cut to fit, refried beans, rice, simple tomato and red onion salad
          3. American bento: fried chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, muffin, deviled egg
          4. Lao bento: sticky rice, laab, Lao sausage, long green beans, greens
          5. Yankee bento: clam fritters, potato and watercress salad, stuffed boiled lobster
          6. French bento: duck liver pate, mushroom stuffed squid, potato slabs with tapenade, rhubarb and strawberry coulis
          7. Hawaiian bento: poke poke, poi, lau lau...you know the drill
          8. Kenyan bento: funny chicken bits stew, ugalli (white maize staple dish), sukuma wiki (greens).
          9. Vietnamese bento: pork stuffed bitter gourd, rice, sour vegetable pickles, fish
          10. Philippines bento: rice pyramids wrapped in pandan, tinapa (smoked fishies), penoy (boiled unfertilized duck egg), ....

          Sorry, I could get even more carried away.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            This could be a fun game...name the country and the food box.

            English: cornish pasty, minted peas, scone w/ clotted cream in the smallest container w/ a lid, gloucestor cheese

            Taiwanese: rice, roasted soy sauce pork w/ hard boiled egg, fried greens, crushed sweetened peanuts

            Indian: naan bread, chicken korma, rice, aloo gobi or palek paneer

            Lebanese: toum w/ pita, kebabs, baklava, arnabeet

          2. OK... I have to take exception to Sam's idea of a Hawaii Bento, perhaps that is what it should be but....

            A bento here generally consists of an overwhelming bed of white calrose rice, probably with some furikake sprinkled on it. Spread out on top of that there is likely to be a piece of fried chicken, some teriyaki beef, a piece of breaded fried mahimahi, and a piece of fried spam (or in some cases a hot dog). There will usually be some sliced pickled ginger, a piece of (bright yellow) pickled radish (takuan), and some tarter sauce, along with a small packet of soy sauce. And no, I have never weighed one, nor seen a computation on the nutritional values (or not so nutritional values as the case may be). The "box" is about 5"x7"x2" deep - stuffed full.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KaimukiMan

              KM, You're spot on. I wrote my reply in a couple of minurtes of enthusiam. Your version makes much more sense (and my faddahside from Kaneohi).

            2. These are great ideas! The only problem I have is that I can't eat fish/seafood in my office. :( We have tight quarters here and we have a rule not to bring in fish/seafood, popcorn or any strong smelling food.

              1 Reply
              1. re: boogiebaby

                No need for anything strong smelling. Just think outside of the box as to what to put in the box! Lots of fun.

              2. What an odd coincidence! I was just searching the Rachael Ray site for the name of those boxes. My grandson is a veggie eater and will be starting Kindergarten in the Fall, so I was looking for some neat stuff for his lunch. Here are a couple ideas from the RR show:

                2 Replies
                1. re: danhole

                  Gasp...Mr Hole...you've committed a grave CH sin...actually passing on something from RR!

                  Actually, I had a laugh when I saw the plastic bento boxes, and if I had been asked to imagine them, I would have come up with plastic. But until I saw them, the idea in the back of my mind was our traditional hand painted and lacquered box--usually black on the inside and dark reddish backgrounded on the outside.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    OH NO! I had no idea that a RR recipe was a sin! So now you can beat me with a wet noodle!

                    Oh yea . . . it's Ms. Hole!

                2. Can I ask where you purchased your boxes? I love this idea - a compartmentalized little lunch! - but I haven't found a box I've liked.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: vac

                    I don't know where the OP got hers, but I've seen them on reusablebags.com: http://www.reusablebags.com/store/lap...

                    1. re: vac

                      I live in So. CA and picked some up at Mitsuwa and also some at a small Korean housewares store.

                    2. I know you mentioned wanting to expand on your cuisines for your bento box lunches but I've come across a blogsite maintained by a Japanese lady who lives in LA. She is excellent in updating and does great spins on onigiri and other Japanese dishes.

                      If you're interested, go to:


                      Scroll down on the right side of the screen and click, "Tune in Tokyo! Maji?!"

                      Naoko has a great breadth of understanding and experiences lots of different foods and wines, but her forte' is definitely Japanese...

                      I am taking a wild guess but based on your selection of "Hainanese Chicken rice," and not Hainanese chicken AND rice, you must be in or from Singapore... If that's the case, I commend you for making the effort to actual cook as opposed to sending everyone off to the hawker stalls. Second, you are at one of the great epicenters of cuisines. Indian, Chinese, and Malay cuisines have great things that can go into a bento box... the first that comes to mind is nasi lemak or any variation of it... If I'm correct in guessing your locale, then you practically have an endless supply of ideas and foods at your disposal! But please - no durian stuffed in the bento boxes...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        I wish I was in Singapore right now, but home base is in Southern CA. :) My mom is from Singapore and I'm there every other year to visit my extended family for a few weeks.

                        I'm Indian, but cook a mix of Indian, Singaporean/Malay and Chinese food. Since there are no hawkers centers in my neighborhood (I'd be in heaven if there were!) I have to make some of my favorites at home. Chicken Rice is one of them, and it works well for lunches since it can be eaten at room temperature. :) My husband travels to India for business sometimes and always stop in S'pore for a few days because I've got him hooked on the food (plus he visits the family)!

                        No durians in the lunches, but my parents, my hubby and I sometimes get a frozen durian from the asian markets, sit outside on the patio (so not to stink up the house!) and enjoy!

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          You don't need to go to la.foodblogging first (even though that's my site), you can go directly to her site here:


                          That is an enjoyable blog she has.

                          1. re: Jonah

                            Jonah, thanks... I'm the epitome of a computer illiterate... and I truly enjoy your site...

                        2. In addition to VeganLunchbox which is a great site, but it's, well, vegan, there's a bunch of people with time on their hands who post their lunches to Flickr groups.
                          Here's a bunch tagged with Bento
                          and here's some with the plastic Laptop Lunchboxes:
                          Which use the plastic boxes from: