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I’m Janet from @janetsmunchmeals on Instagram, and I’m a food blogger (www.munchmealsbyjanet.com) and recipe creator, sharing plant-based recipes since 2017. I’ve had a strong love of food and cooking from the time of childhood and was obsessed with cooking shows as a kid. If it looked yummy, you can bet I was attempting to make it at home. Thankfully, my parents were very supportive in my endeavors to try and cook up a storm, on an almost constant basis. I became interested in plant-based meals later in life, after learning about the delicious and nourishing options that are out there to enjoy. Since then, I have been focused on creating meal ideas for busy people that can satisfy both vegans and non-vegans alike.
Through my food blog and social media accounts, I hope to continue inspiring people to cook more plant-based meals that are both simple yet delicious, and which are also meals that they can share with their friends and family. It makes me so happy to see others make my recipes and enjoy sharing them with loved ones. It also brings me such joy to cook homemade meals for my kids and husband. It’s the best feeling to prepare a dish using ingredients that they may not have been a fan of before!
A bento box for me means having a bright and nourishing meal that has been carefully prepared and is ready to accompany me wherever I need to go, whether that be the dining room table, the office or the park. I often put together a bento in advance to ensure that I have a comforting meal for the next day, or later that day, to enjoy. It is a way to incorporate my favorite things into a meal, whether it’s a hot dish or a cold one, that you can take along for a piece of home on-the-go.
The Takenaka bento is such a perfect size to hold lots of delicious food, where I know that I can fit enough food to satisfy my lunch or snacktime hunger. I like to pack a flavorful pasta dish that’s filled with veggies, or a hearty salad loaded with a variety of veggies, beans, avocado and hummus. I have also been loving quinoa and farro salads to pack in my bento, as these are super hearty and nourishing, and they are really versatile to combine with other ingredients/toppings for a complete meal. Adding raw or cooked greens like kale, spinach or escarole is another favorite way to add extra nutrients and color to the meal.
There’s lots to love about the Takenaka boxes. They are so beautifully designed, which make them exciting and fun to both pack and to enjoy eating from. When I have a beautiful Takenaka bento box or bowl to enjoy my meal in, it instantly makes the meal that much more interesting. The lightweight boxes make taking them on-the-go really easy, so I can fill them with lots of goodies without worrying that things will get too cumbersome. Another small yet important detail that I love about the bento boxes and bowls are that they are simple to open and close. I’ve chosen the Tangerine Orange color, which I love for brightening up any season.
Pasta with Creamy Lentil Tomato Sauce & Spinach
Total Time: 40 minutes
Cook lentils according to package directions until just al dente, using 3 cups vegetable broth instead of water. During cooking, add water if getting too dry. Drain away any remaining liquid. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, in salted water, reserving ¼ cup pasta cooking water prior to draining.
Meanwhile, preheat a large pan on medium heat. Add oil and carrots. Stir and cook for 2 to 3 min, covered. Add onions, kosher salt and black pepper, reducing heat to medium-low. Cook 10 to 12 min until carrots are for tender, stirring periodically, partially covered. Some browning is fine.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, remaining 1 cup vegetable broth, and cook 3 to 4 min. Add crushed tomatoes and vegan cream cheese if using, stir, and cook another 2 min. Add cooked pasta, lentils, and baby spinach. Stir well, letting spinach wilt. Add some or all of the pasta cooking water, if desiring thinner sauce. Taste and add another ½ tsp kosher salt if desired. Serve topped with fresh parsley and red chili flakes.