Foods you should always have in your bento box (Photo: iStock)

A bento box is a Japanese-style lunch box. It’s not actually just a basic type of lunchbox, it has a rich history behind it.

The earliest form of the bento box was a basic sack. People would carry rice in these bags to work, and eat during lunch hours. With time, it evolved into more sturdy and artistic designs, and more people were using these boxes to carry food to different places like schools or while travelling.

The most striking quality of a bento box is the multiple compartments. These compartments are meant to separate each food for convenience and artistic purposes as well.

To date, bento boxes are still very popular and in fact, there are electric designs that allow you to heat up your food on the move. For you to master the skill of properly stacking your bento box, you need to know the right meal combos.

If you don’t know where to start, here are a few basic ideas that will give you some inspo:

Meat or fish

One of the main foods that shouldn’t miss is animal protein. Protein plays critical roles in our bodies including tissue and organ functioning.

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You have the option of choosing different types of meats for different days including chicken, fish and beef. You could also opt for other options like eggs.

This will give you an opportunity to try out interesting recipes so that you will be able to switch things up often.

Rice

In your box, you will also need to have some healthy carbs in there. Carbs will give you an energy boost, and complement other meal options you have.

A convenient choice to have is rice, whether brown, white, spiced or veggie rice. You could even decide to have Swahili-style rice aka pilau for those days when you want something different.

There are no limits when it comes to the type of rice you want so you have many options. You could also choose something else like sweet potatoes, just as long as you have some healthy carbs.

Vegetables

It is standard that we should all have vegetables on our plates as often as possible. Without them, we miss the essential nutrients that our bodies need.

Here you also have the option of choosing different vegetables like broccoli, spinach and lentils. You need to ensure that you always have some vegetables in your bento box.

Gravy or sauce

Sauces and gravy help to combine all the different flavours in a meal. And since your food will be stored for some time, you need something that will prevent your meal from being too dry.

So, make sure you have something like gravy or sauce. You could prepare some separately or even use some soup from your stew, whatever works for you.

Fruit

Fruits also shouldn’t be left out when deciding what to carry. They are part of having a balanced meal so they need to be there as well.

Have variety for different days like berries, mango slices and avocado for each day.