Meet your new lunchtime inspiration: Japanese Instagrammer Yukiyo prepares and digitally shares daily bento boxes that are jam-packed with colorful creativity. Though always squeezed into one small container, every meal includes a flavorful and aesthetically pleasing array of at least six different dishes, exhibiting portable practicality and imaginative artistry in equal measure.
In keeping with the bento tradition that dates back to the 12th Century, each box comprises a balanced combination of rice, meat and/or fish, and a variety of vegetables. The concoctions are nutritious, but not lacking in lip-smacking indulgence–one common cooking method involves wrapping fried meat around asparagus, brussels sprouts, or other greens. Particular staples frequently reappear from day to day, like soft-boiled eggs, purple pickled cabbage, and sesame-spotted rice balls, and yet no two lunches are the same.
Feast your eyes on some of Yukiyo's drool-worthy creations below. We've even translated her captions to help decipher the more exotic ingredients and unfamiliar cooking methods.
Spinach sauteed in butter, burdock, fried eggplant, meat dumplings with sweet and sour sauce, egg, fried mizuna greens and tuna, and rice balls with green soybeans and pickled plum, seaweed, and salmon.
Marinated purple cabbage, egg, asparagus wrapped with meat, teriyaki meatball, stir-fried broccoli and carrots with tuna, burdock with pickled plum, rice with kelp, and pickled plum.
Sauteed carrot, braised spinach, omelet, marinated purple cabbage, asparagus wrapped in meat, pickled plum, squid simmered in soy sauce and mirin, and rice balls with brown seaweed, kimchi, kelp, and pickled turnip.
Stir-fried broccoli, sauteed carrot, omelet, boiled pumpkin, marinated purple cabbage, sprouts wrapped in fried meat, rice balls with red beans, and braised vegetables.
Rice, stir-fried broccoli and carrots, tomato meatball stuffed with boiled Brussels sprouts, omelet, rape blossoms, and sauteed vegetables.
Egg, vegetables wrapped in meat, rape blossoms, cabbage blossoms, pickled turnip, marinated purple cabbage, rice balls with kimchi, burdock, and sweet shrimp.
Pickled turnip, hamburger with tomato sauce, omelet, fried broccoli and carrots, marinated purple cabbage, lotus root, rice balls with miso vegetables, and kimchi.
Asparagus wrapped with meat and cheese, egg, curried broccoli and carrot, fish sausage, pumpkin salad, and burdock with pickled plum.
Boiled spinach, egg, simmered minced meat, broccoli, asparagus wrapped in meat and cheese, potato, and rice balls with seaweed.
Okra and mixed bean salad, balsamic sauted apples wrapped in meat, potato, boiled spinach, pickled radish, lotus root, and rice balls with edamame, sesame, and pickled plum.
Rice with salmon flakes, tofu, sauted carrots, broccoli, omelet, and boiled spinach.
Sauted burdock, Brussels sprouts wrapped in fried meat, egg, rape blossoms with mustard, and rice balls with salmon flakes, dried celery, and basil.
Egg, meat dumplings with black vinegar sauce, boiled dried daikon, spinach, pickled yam with plum vinegar, and rice balls with carrot, salmon flakes, and minced celery and olive.
Fried asparagus, boiled dried daikon, rice balls, nanohana (a vegetable similar to broccoli), omelet, meatballs with soybeans, brown rice, and shrimp.
Rice, Brussels sprouts wrapped in fried meat with butter soy sauce, omelet, tofu, sauteed carrots, asparagus with bacon, boiled dried daikon, and seaweed.
Rice balls, fried curried carrots, fried mushrooms and broccoli with squid roe, plum and burdock, egg, and mackerel teriyaki.
Curried stir-fried broccoli, omelet with trefoil, lotus-filled meat dumplings with sweet and sour sauce, tofu, sauted burdock, and rice balls with ginger, green vegetables, and seaweed.