Ideas for easy bento

No.127

I am writing this post to you who heard about bento for the first time.

There is something called “Bento” and it is increasingly getting popular in the world last several years. Bento originally comes from Japan and it is in one word a packed meal in a box. It is a very common meal in Japan and we often make it at home, bring it with us to eat usually for lunch at school or office. You can even buy bento at train stations in Japan, people do eat it on their way to somewhere by train. Bento is packed in a box called “bento box” which comes in different shapes and colors and this meal in the box is a very integrated part of our daily life in Japan. As a Japanese, I also grew up with bento and I am still making it everyday here in Norway.

It does not need to be any fancy type of food, you can pack anything you like. Left over from last night makes a great bento next day!  I think the most important thing to remember in order to enjoy a good bento life is that you don’t get stressed out by having to make and pack your meal in any strenuous way. I make it in the morning because I have time but some people do not have so much time to cook in the morning that they pack it the night before.  We all have a different daily schedule but preparation in advance is a common and an important key for everyone. In this post I like to suggest the following tips and recipes that can help you prepare in advance for an easy and quick bento.


1. Pasta goes fast

A pasta bento usually goes very fast and it is a tasty and fulfilling lunch for us. If you have your favorite meat or tomato sauce in your fridge, that is great! Spaghetti Bolognese makes a wonderful bento.

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My meat sauce recipe is here!

If you like a lighter pasta sauce, how about green pesto? Here is an easy recipe.

Homemade Pesto is good!
Homemade Pesto is good!

Fresh Basil leaves          30-40
Cashew nuts                   1/2 cup
Olive Oil                          50 cc
(Garlic if you like              2 cloves)
Parmesan cheese           1/4 cup
salt and pepper

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Put all the ingredients in a food processor and make pesto. You can make this in advance, just cook pasta in the morning and mix with the sauce and pack in your bento box.

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2. Style up your sandwiches! 

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Our usual sandwich lunch box can, with some fruits and a drink, have a good make over and style up! This bento does not take more than 20 minutes to pack. You can make a hard boiled egg already when you cook a dinner and mix with mayonnaise and leave it in the fridge til the next morning. Put ham and cheese, tuna and tomato, store-bought roast beef and pickles in your sandwiches in the morning. It will be a good sandwich lunch box that you will be looking forward to!


3. Handy homemade Japanese BBQ sauce

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Having your homemade BBQ sauce in your fridge is very handy. It keeps quite well in the fridge. You can use this both as marinade and dipping sauce. If you are planning to serve a BBQ dinner, you can make this sauce in the morning and you can marinade your BBQ meat (I am using beef, pork and chicken often but you can also use other type of meat or fish!) for about 20-30 minutes before you BBQ. I think it will be good to bring the meat and the sauce to room temperature before you marinate if your climate permits.

Soy Sauce        100cc
Sesame Oil      50cc
Japanese Sake  50cc
Sugar            3-4 table Spoons
(Grated garlic if you like  2 tea Spoons)
Coarse black pepper  as you like
Roasted white sesame seeds 2 table spoons

Mix all ingredients, cut some pieces of red onion.

When you are marinating fish/chicken for your bento tomorrow, you can marinate before you go to bed and grill it in the morning to pack in your bento. Here is my Chicken BBQ bento.

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4. Make sure you have something easy to cook in your fridge!

People have different preferences and the food they like to have are so varied. But when you don’t have so much time, it is helpful to have something that is easy to cook in your fridge. Eggs, sausages, ham, carrot, potato, cheese etc. and the list will go on… Plan your shopping wisely.

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Bento is not so difficult once you get into a routine and many people are finding Bento as a healthy meal to eat. Would you like to join us?

xx Rie

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