Bento boxes are small boxes that are used as lunch boxes in Japan. Bento boxes usually contain fish, rice, and a mix of other healthy snacks.
In this article, we are going to tell you how bento boxes work and find out whether, or not, they keep your food warm.
What Is A Bento Box?
In the widest terms, a bento box is a single-portioned box that is typically given for take-outs or made for packed lunches and home-cooked meals on the go.
Bento boxes are traditionally not referred to as a ‘bento box,’ but just as bento. The term bento is an umbrella term for any single-portioned food that is a meal outside the home.
It is often equipped with dividers that keep the food apart, whether this is sections or different levels. Bento boxes may come in different shapes and sizes, and they can even be disposable single-use or ceramic.
What Do Bento Boxes Look Like?
Bento boxes can come in any shape or size, as long as they are used as a box for eating. Typically, disposable bento-boxes are found at a cafeteria, and they are usually black plastic, with different sections.
You will also find bento boxes at the store, which you can take home and fill yourself, using as a lunch box. These are frequently made of metal, hard plastic, or even bamboo.
More traditional bento boxes were made out of wood. You can also get hand-painted, personal bento boxes. They are regularly aesthetically pleasing, and they can be made out of pretty much anything.
Where Can You Find Bento Boxes?
In Japan, you can find bento boxes basically anywhere. You will mostly find them at convenience stores, public transport stations, department stores, food halls, general stores, and special bento shops (bentō-ya).
Bento shops sell the actual bento boxes, as well as anything fun or cute to add to your bento boxes. This includes animal and anime sandwich cutters, and colorful napkins.
What Is The Purpose Of A Bento Box?
In traditional Japanese culture, bento boxes are made with love and care, and actually, signify a deeper meaning than a lunchbox. Bento is a way of showing love and care to your loved ones; a genius way of doing it through food.
Do Bento Boxes Keep Food Warm?
Firstly, bento meals are usually eaten cold. Secondly, a lot of bento boxes are now hard plastic or metal. Metal will typically retain heat better.
If you’ve made bento, and you want the food to stay warm, a classic bento box may not be your first choice.
However, you can find insulated bento boxes, with the sole purpose of keeping your food warm, because most bento boxes do not do this. Bento meals are often eaten cold.
Whatever the temperature of the food you put in there, it should remain at this temperature for at least a couple of hours, due to the fact it is still inside a sealed container.
Are Bento Boxes Insulated?
Classic and modern bento boxes are not typically insulated, but if they happen to be made of metal, they may have slightly more natural insulation.
Saying this, you can buy specially insulated bento boxes, so your food can stay hot or cold for at least half the day.
Why Are They Called Bento Boxes?
Bento boxes get their name from the Japanese word for the lunch box. Bento means lunchbox in Japanese.
Japanese men used to carry their meals when going hunting, to which they were usually made of wood. They frequently contained rice, fish, and potatoes.
How Long Is A Bento Box Good For?
The contents of a bento box will probably stay safe to eat for around six hours, or by the time it is lunchtime. It is up to you, as ultimately you are the one making the bento box, and knowing what is put in it.
When making bento boxes with rice, always remember to let the rice cool down before you put it into the bento box and refrigerate it, as this is extremely harmful otherwise.
If your bento box contents are cold, you should be fine, and it will be good for most of the day. If the contents are hot, eat the bento as quickly as you can, or ideally within four or five hours.
When Were Bento Boxes Invented?
Bento boxes have been around for hundreds of years, and they are a rich part of Japanese cuisine and history. It is thought that bento boxes were used to carry rice in the 1180s, up until the mid-1300s. This was called the Kamakura era.
How Do I Keep Food Warm In A Bento Box?
If you are wanting to keep your bento meal hot/warm, invest in an insulated bento box, or at least a metal one, such as steel.
Additionally, foil everything that you can, so it will keep the heat inside. When it comes to wrapping up your bento box, double wrap it in plastic wrap, or even foil.
If you have an insulated or metal bento box, prepare your food the night before and let it cool in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, pour boiling water into your empty metal bento box to heat it up, then reheat your bento meal, and transfer it into the bento box. This is pretty much guaranteed to stay hot until lunchtime.
How Do I Keep Food Cold In A Bento Box?
Keep your bento box in the fridge overnight, with the contents inside. When using the next day, you should pack the box with an ice pack, as well as keep it in the refrigerator if there is one readily available to you.
Again, investing in a thermal or insulated bento box would help with keeping it cold.
What Is Traditionally In A Bento Box?
In a bento box, you will typically find rice or noodles, along with meat or fish, pickled or cooked veggies, fresh fruit, and salad. Bento boxes are usually pretty healthy and colorful, too (is Japanese food healthy? Read here more)..
Bento boxes are becoming popular all over the world, with their cute designs and their fun ways of making lunch.
Bento boxes are typically made of plastic or wood, but you can buy insulated ones so that your food will definitely stay warm until you wish to eat it.