Bento Box ideas for adults

Taco bento

The Bento Box has swept playgrounds across the world, with kids (and parents) loving their colourful and fun presentation of food.

Adults are increasingly hopping on the Bento Bandwagon in recognition of their eco-friendliness (no need for packaging) and encouragement of healthy portion control. Furthermore, for those so inclined, Bento preparation is said to be a soothing, zen-like experience akin to grooming a bonsai.

Bento Boxes are perfect for picnics, road trips and work lunches. But beware – your lunches will look so stunning that everyone will want a piece! This is where personalisation comes in handy. Stuck On You’s Bento Boxes come personalised with your first and last name (optional), perfect for deterring those pesky picnic pinchers and cavalier covetous colleagues.

What you put in your Bento Box is up to you, size permitting of course (a whole watermelon might not be a good idea, for example). However, the following is a guide to the sorts of things you can have in your Bento Box – including extra credit options for the teacher’s pets out there!

VEGGIES

  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Capsicum strips
  • Corn kernels
  • Celery sticks
  • Corn on the cob
  • Asparagus spears
  • Snow peas

Extra credit project – Carrot zucchini muffins 

Don’t be deterred by the word ‘muffin’ – these bronze babies absolutely, definitely (kind of) deserve their place in the “Veggies” section of the Bento Box. Check out this recipe from If you give a blonde a kitchen.

Adult bento - muffin

Image and recipe: If you give a blonde a kitchen

FRUIT

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sultanas
  • Mandarin segments
  • Melon balls
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Olives
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Bananas

Extra credit project – Strawberry roses

These beauties are easy to create courtesy of this tutorial from One Little Project. They make the perfect romantic surprise for hubby or wifey when they open their Bento Box at work. Just make sure Kenneth from payroll doesn’t get the wrong idea…

Adult bento - Strawberries

Image and instructions: One Little Project

GRAINS

  • Cooked pasta
  • Wholegrain wraps
  • Sandwiches
  • Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Tortilla chips
  • Pretzels
  • Couscous
  • Dried muesli/granola
  • Chickpeas
  • Falafel balls
  • Mini croissants
  • Popcorn

Extra credit project – Onigiri (rice balls)

Our love of cute things never fades. Just ask the adults of my acquaintance who are still collecting stuffed animals (i.e. me).

Smiling can be infectious and therefore good for our health. But if you can’t rely on dour Carol from accounts to give you a friendly grin, how about this super easy but amazingly cute smiley onigiri (Japanese rice ball) to brighten your work day?

An onigiri is a savoury ball of rice which can be enjoyed plain, salted or with other additions such as meat fillings and seaweed coatings.

At a basic level, what you need is Japanese/sushi rice (which you should be able to find in an Asian grocery store – otherwise Arborio rice is a decent substitute). Rolled the cooked rice into a whatever shape you desire. You can do this with your hands, cling wrap or a cut out shape.

To create that winning smile, add some seaweed for the eyes and mouth, and smoked salmon for the cheeks.

Adult bento - rice balls

DAIRY

  • Cheese
  • Babybel cheese
  • Feta cubes
  • Cream cheese
  • Bocconcini

Extra credit project – Pooh Bear baked cream cheese tarts

People are going crazy for Hokkaido baked cheese tarts. Little Miss Bento has come up with a recipe where you can use ordinary cream cheese (though Hokkaido Cream Cheese is ideal) and other common pantry ingredients to knock together these cute characters .

Adult bento - cheese tarts

Image and recipe:  Little Miss Bento

PROTEIN

  • Baked beans
  • Homemade chicken nuggets
  • Ham
  • Salami
  • Boiled egg
  • Tofu
  • Shredded BBQ chicken
  • Taco mince
  • Marinated beef strips
  • Tuna
  • Sliced turkey

Extra credit project – Easy chicken balls

These easy chicken balls from One Handed Cooks are a healthy and delicious protein source. They also happen to have vegetables in them – so add them to your Veggies section (relatively) guilt-free if you so desire!

Adult bento - chicken balls

Image and recipe: One Handed Cooks

What you’ll need

  • 500g chicken mince
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup baby spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely grated
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup finely grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil to fry

Whip it up!

  1. Combine the chicken mince, egg, baby spinach, carrot, lemon zest, parmesan and enough breadcrumbs to bring the mixture together in a large bowl, and mix to combine.
  2. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into small balls.
  3. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add a little oil and cook the chicken balls in batches for 4-5 minutes, turning regularly until golden brown and cooked through. Alternatively, drizzle with a little olive oil, place on a baking tray and bake in an oven preheated to 180℃ for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.

DIP/SAUCE

  • Coleslaw
  • Hummus
  • Peanut Butter
  • Tzatziki
  • Beetroot dip
  • Guacamole
  • Tomato salsa

Extra credit project – Cheese and cauliflower dip

Adult bento - dip
Image: Just A Taste

What you’ll need:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 115g cream cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-5 cups Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring onions, plus more for garnish

Whip it up!

  • Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with foil.
  • Toss olive oil through the cauli florets, sprinkling with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Place the cauliflower on single layer on the baking tray and roast for about 30 mins, until golden brown.
  • Blitz the cauliflower in a food processor with cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, 1 cup of the parmesan, garlic and spring onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Blend until smooth then pour into a baking dish.
  • Top with remaining Parmesan and bake at 180 degrees until golden brown (around 20 minutes).

TACO BENTO!

Want a holistic Bento lunch that combines all the elements beautifully into one meal? How about this Bento Taco idea?

It’s as easy as it looks. Throw in some shredded chicken breast, half a mashed avocado, shredded cheese, corn kernels, sour cream and soft wrap (use cookie cutter to achieve the small round shape).

Adult bento - taco

Image: School Lunch Box