Maki over at JustBento has written a great article on ready-made food and how it’s used in bento in Japan. Basically it blows a hole in the idea that all Japanese mothers get up at five in the morning to craft perfectly healthy and perfectly beautiful lunchboxes for their families, made from scratch and at the peak of nutritional balance. A busy mother scrambling to feed her kids is going to behave like any busy mother scrambling to feed her kids. This may include pre-packaged food! If you find Bento interesting, do check out the site, by the way. She’s not into charaben (character bento), but is more into bento as a way to have healthy meals on the go.
I have used pre-packaged food in a bento once or twice – a prime example being my Bad Mama Bento at the end of school last year for my son. It’s not something I personally do often, as at least part of my bento motivation is to get away from too many preservatives and go for a better nutritional balance in at least some of the meals we eat.
But it’s hardly like my own bento are the pictures of nutritional perfection. This bento has two itty bitty hamburger patties (ooohhh!! Scawwwy evil fat in ground beef) and a corn muffin. Corn=Evil in some minds. I’ll point out that HFCS and CORN are two different products. (Though the muffin was home-made, so no weird ingredients I can’t pronounce). You can find something to criticize in almost anything if you want to.
That’s probably why a lot of people throw up their hands about nutrition and eating well. You’re constantly bombarded with the message that whatever you’re doing is WRONG WRONG WRONG.