The point of bento is, of course, to have a meal on the go. I made these because the man of the house is going to be taking a very long car trip and I wanted him to have decent food without having to grab crap at a fuel-n-feed. Yes, it’s a convenient hobby! I made these bento specifically as finger-food so that he wouldn’t have to worry about a fork or chopsticks if he ate while driving.
When I do my bento class, I’ll probably discuss the convenience of travel bento in general. If I take a train trip, I almost always take a bento along. Many bento enthusiasts take them on airplanes (no liquidy food, of course, but what I did here would get by more than fine!) or family outings. Picnic bento are a tradition in Japan –usually the family meal is packed in a large single box, though, rather than these little individual boxes. When I took my children out to the pool not too long ago, we’d intended to make a day of it, so of course I made bento for all of us. I find them fantastic for day trips as well as longer travel.
The real beauty and convenience of a bento won’t hit you until you hold one in your hand. They’re small. A bento large enough for my lunch is about as large on top as the palm of my hand and fits in my purse with the greatest of ease. Those three bento, packed up with their lids on, fit in my backpack with room to spare for sunscreen, towels, a picnic blanket and cans of soda with no problem at all. For a longer trip, you can make meal bento and snack bento that have great meals, but take up considerably less space than traditional sandwiches and chips. It’s the compactness that makes them so delightfully convenient for travel. The boxes I use fit inside each other when they’re done so that after you’ve eaten, they take up even less space.
Even though they’re small, it’s a tasty, satisfying, filling meal. Part of the satisfaction comes in because a well-made bento has a variety of tastes in it. Notice even in these completely non-classical bento there are little bits and tastes of lots of different foods. When you eat a meal with that level of variety, you find your pleasure in the meal is increased as well as your level of satisfaction.
Of course, travel food has plenty of solutions and options, but I find the bento one of the better ones to save time, money and get better food than you’re likely to be able to get on the road.