I ‘bento boxed’ my life for two weeks to create a more balanced life – this is what I found.


A few weeks ago, I found an interesting article that looked at the bento box and the main principles behind it.

Simply explained – the bento box was developed to structure eating to ensure balance.

“By design, the bento ensures a balanced meal and balanced life. The secret to the bento box’s success is in its name: bento derives from a Japanese word meaning convenience,” Yancey Strickler wrote for TIME magazine. “The bento’s four internal compartments and lid enable someone to easily carry a balanced meal of a variety of dishes without it getting spoiled. Ten centuries after its invention, the bento box remains one of the most balanced, healthy, and convenient meals around.”

Strickler then explored how we can use these principles to change the way we view the world and apply them to our own life.

Wow! This is a great way to look at life, I thought at the time. I also quickly realised that this was very different from how I was currently living.

Balance, looking forward to more, simple. Yep, definitely not my everyday mindset.

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While I liked the general gist, the ideas detailed by Strickler seemed like too much for me to follow.

But then I thought what if I made it more basic? The bento means convenience, right? So I decided to ‘bento my life’, conveniently, on my own terms.

And that is what I did for two weeks.

First, I looked at the areas of my life where I was lacking and tried to identify things I needed to improve on.

The list was long. I was also, I quickly realised, about as ‘un-bento’ as you could be – yep, I was as unbalanced as a see-saw with only one person on it.

See, there were some parts of my life I gave a lot of attention to (my kids and my work, for example). But there were others I completely neglected, such as myself, my health and my relationship with my husband.

I decided that I would work on my life balance by focusing on these three areas.

Each day, for two weeks I aimed to give something to each of these areas and to plan a second thing to give them for the following day (thus, leaving me hungry for more.)

I’m a visual person, so I decided to draw a bento box on a piece of paper. I divided it into three compartments and wrote in each one the area I wanted to work on, along with a list of suggestions for how to improve on each one.

i bento boxed my life
What my Bento box looked like! Image: Supplied

For myself, I included things like: give yourself a compliment, sit outside in the fresh air, listen to music, read some of your book, plan family holiday.

For my relationship with my husband, I included: a date night outside the home, one date inside the home, hugging for a minute straight each day, some sort of PDA (just hand holding!)


For health, I included: practicing mindfulness, daily exercise, and remembering to take off my makeup before going to bed.

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The suggestions were all convenient tasks, no gym memberships or outlandish plans, just simple changes for the better. And I didn’t have to do 10 different things, just one from each area. Simple, convenient. Bento.

The process itself was actually quite easy. As a visual person and a list-lover, I found setting (straightforward) challenges and crossing them off each day really satisfying.

I also found that as I went on, I thought of more things I could add to each area. I noted down what I enjoyed doing and what I didn’t (skipping is most definitely not for me).

What was truly amazing and unexpected was that I found myself waking up the next morning wanting to try something else or doing something again. Hunger for more? Check.

At the end of the two weeks, I didn’t even realise it had been two weeks.

The three areas I focused on all saw the benefit too. I finished an entire book that before this I had been reading on and off for months.

My husband and I reignited a bit more of the old passion if you know what I mean, and I managed to not sprout a pimple for the last seven days of the bento experiment.

i bento boxed my life
"My husband and I reignited a bit more of the old passion " Image: Supplied


Shona Hendley, Mother of Goats, Cats and Humans is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education and is a passionate animal lover and advocate.You can follow her on Instagram