We all know that going to the grocery stores during self isolation feels like entering the apocalypse. The feeling of emptiness creeps in as the aisles are limited to 5 people or less. Obviously instacart and curbside pickup is a saviour but when we need things in a jif sometimes it’s better to put on a mask, tough it out, and go get the ingredients to make that amazing dinner for your loved one who deserves it.
But sometimes we don’t feel like cooking and want to order in, even though that isn’t the best option right now, but that’s where Bento Boxes come to the rescue. The use of non-perishables also makes these perfect for times like right now because it’s always good to stock up on canned food and items with a long shelf life to decrease the need to go outside or panic shop. While it seems like a lot of work to cook in advance, these cute boxes are super beneficial for meal planning, eating healthy, and portion control for those days where the two of you cannot stop snacking.
I know when we hear oatmeal we think BORING and I used to think that way too. The bowl of sugary cereal or breakfast potatoes seem way better, obvi! But that doesn’t mean that oatmeal should always have to take a back seat when it comes to breakfast. FitFoodieFinds provides some great recipes on ways to spice up your oatmeal to make it an ideal food for the morning, which will allow you to wake up happy and excited to eat and get the day started.
To complement oatmeal, some fresh berries with powdered sugar or nut butters work really well to make these meals more filling. Another great side could be some apple slices with some honey or both of your favourite nut butter, which helps make this a more filling meal with some added textures -- a nice crispy apple can go a long way, especially when paired with oatmeal for breakfast. If having a totally sweet breakfast isn’t for you then as a side you can add some cheese and a hard boiled egg, which will also add some protein to make the two of you full for longer.
#2 RICE PUDDING
This is another sweet and super delicious dessert disguised as a breakfast or brunch item. The sweet notes of vanilla and creaminess allow this to be a treat that will have anyone excited for breakfast time.
When making this into a bento box for the two of you, this choice can go alongside some fresh blueberries and an apple to add some new textures to your breakfast. This also enhances the textures, as just like oatmeal, rice pudding is rather soft and subtle without any defining textures attached to it. To add a savoury element to this bento box, if you or your lover don’t have a sweet tooth, a hard boiled egg and some carrots can be added to increase the colour and protein in both of your daily breakfasts. This is a perfect treat to spike some Monday motivation and make sure that both of your days are as sweet as can be.
This is a great recipe as it is simple, delicious, and uses a lot of non-perishable ingredients. The combination of black beans and rice is no stranger to us but this recipe makes this duo even more amazing, as it calls for cilantro (optional) and seared corn, which gives it a nice kick of fresh flavour.
This recipe can be served along with some chips and salsa for additional crunching and munching or, if you’re looking for a healthy alternative, some fresh tomatoes and guac make some excellent sides. Both of these can be used as a perfect side to complement your main affair or as extra toppings to make your bowl even more flavourful than it already is.
#4 TUNA SALAD
While sometimes tuna salad gets a bad rep, I can assure you that this is one perishable food item that you won’t want to miss out on, as it is definitely one for the books. This low carb and protein packed bento box is pescatarian-friendly and can easily be made to fit a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. The recipe from Damn Delicious calls for tuna salad (can be replaced with carrot tuna) on a bed of lettuce, alongside some apples, almonds, cucumbers, and hard boiled eggs.
While this sounds like a nice and light lunch or dinner, if you feel as though it won’t be filling, just toss in some rice crackers and nut butter to make it a more hearty meal. You can also customize this bento box for you and your loved one with some melted cheddar cheese, as cheese is always an essential, to create a carb free tuna melt, which will make the dish more filling and add another level of flavour.
This is one Middle Eastern dish that you cannot miss out on. Period. Otherwise known as Mujadara, this dish is a rendition of rice and beans with a not-so-classic twist. This is a great linner or dinner option, as it is equally as hearty as it is delicious.
When making this into a bento box for two, some good sides would be some pomegranate and savoury yogurt (Lebaneh) to enhance the flavours embedded within the dish and to stick to the Middle Eastern theme. If those two options aren’t up you or your loved one’s alley, then some cucumber salad and strawberries might complement your taste buds better. These two sides are far lighter but just as filling and right on the money, as a light cucumber salad can provide a nice tartness to this meal, whereas the strawberries can finish off your meal with a touch of sweetness that can make your stomach feel fulfilled.
#6 QUINOA CHILI
This is one meal loaded with non-perishables, but it does require more time than most to make. If you have an instant pot, you can follow this recipe in the title (or click here) but if you’re making this recipe on your stovetop, then this recipe right here will be your best friend.
Quinoa chili is filled with protein and perfection. From the mild yet sophisticated texture of quinoa to the sweet hints from the corn, this recipe is a hit for anyone. I would suggest eating this for dinner just because it is a very filling and hearty meal, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. When putting it in your bento box, you can complement it with some cornbread (click here for a vegan version) and a fruit of your and your partner's choice, I’d recommend some oranges to provide a kick of freshness and citrus to your meal.
This classic Asian inspired meal is a perfect patio lunch or dinner that can make anyone hungry. The peanut butter and chicken allow this meal to be equal parts carb and protein filled, which results in a filling meal that is rather healthy.
This can be served with some roasted peanuts and some kimchi to add some additional crispiness to contrast the soft yet flavourful noodles. This is perfect for you and your partner on a nice spring afternoon or a summer night to tie the evening together. Not only is this the perfect bento box for its cultural tones but it also tickles your taste buds without being too overwhelming. Think of this is a great way for you and your partner to expand your palate while getting to enjoy two of the greatest things to walk the earth, carbs and some crunch.
I hope these DIY Bento Boxes help you and your boo meal prep and get back to a semi-normal eating schedule, if needed. No matter what recipe you try, they are all packed with flavour and a punch of yum.
As always, stay healthy and safe.
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