(click on image for a bigger view)
Total calories (approx): 450 (how calories are calculated) 
Time needed: 30-40 minutes total (20-30 the night before or earlier, 10 in the morning)
Type: Japanese, vegan, mostly make-ahead
I admit that I’ve been using more white rice in my recent bentos, because my mother shipped over a bag of shinmai (new harvest rice) which is so delicious we can’t get enough of it. To compensate for the loss of fiber and so on in brown rice I try to put other fiber-rich foods in the bento.
This is an all-vegan bento. The star of the show is the baked carrots with miso, tahini and walnut paste . The salty-nutty flavor of these fits so well with the white rice, and it has a very ‘meaty’ kind of taste. The dedicated omnivore in house loves these. The carrots are nestled on some stocked sweet pepper and onion confit . The edamame adds a little extra protein and fiber too. The wasabi of the broccoli adds contrast.
All the food in this except for the rice, which is freshly cooked (shinmai is best that way) is pre-cooked the night before or earlier and the edamame are basically just defrosted, so it’s a good example of how you can assemble a colorful and balanced bento by using staple  and pre-made items. Assembly in the morning only takes about 10 minutes if you take the time to heat and crisp things up. You could just put everything as-is in your bento box too if you’re in a big hurry!
The idea here is not to try to make all the components the night before, but to make them over a few days. This is already the second time I’ve used the pepper confit, which lasts in the fridge for a week or so. The carrots can be made a couple of days in advance or even frozen. The broccoli is best if you make it the night before, but it will stand being in the fridge for a couple of days.
The one thing you do must do the night before is to wash the rice and set your rice cooker timer to finish cooking in the morning . You could of course use frozen rice .
To make this a ‘man-sized’ bento, I increased the rice to 1 1/2 cups, added a big handful of edamame pods rather than shelling them, and put in 6 carrot slices and more broccoli.
The timeline is just for the morning assembly.
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