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Jenny

Bento Box Lunch

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Jenny

Does anyone pack lunch bento style? Either traditional Japanese or American style?

I've been packing bentos a few times a week since Christmas (when I got a box). Some of my favorite lunches have been party tray (cubed thick cut sandwich pepperoni, cheese cubes and crackers), breakfast for lunch (usually pancakes and sausage), mini bagels, meatballs, and BLTs. I always add 2-3 different veggies and some cut up fruit.

I sometimes use a divided storage container to pack lunch in. They are a good cheap alternative to buying a traditional bento box. I also bought silicone muffin cups to separate things and cute little party forks to eat with.

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Happy
keen23

I try to bring my lunch to work 3-4 times a week, and inevitably, I wind up with a salad with some type of left over protein from the night before. Bentos are adorable, but plain old veggies cut into sticks with hummus seems easier to me! I guess I'm lazy.

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Jenny
I try to bring my lunch to work 3-4 times a week, and inevitably, I wind up with a salad with some type of left over protein from the night before. Bentos are adorable, but plain old veggies cut into sticks with hummus seems easier to me! I guess I'm lazy.

I never do anything cutesy either. If I was packing lunch for a kid - I'd like to think that I would cute out shapes and have themes. But for just me I put my hummus in a silicone cup and pack it and my veggies in the box and call it good enough.

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LillyCat

i pack bento-ish lunches. i don't have a fancy box, but i bring things like sliced hard cheeses, veggie sticks, nuts, tofu cubes, cucumber sandwiches (cucumber slices with cream cheese and dill), celery w/ PB, sliced hard boiled eggs, etc.

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Bethella

I just had a bento box for dinner, but mine came from a restaurant: cut fruit, noodle salad, beef teriyaki, and a California roll.

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shedemei

I used to, sort of. I'd usually pack a salad, small main dish, and some kind of vegetable side into my Zojirushi Ms. Bento every day. Sometimes I'd pack rice instead of a salad. Then I left Ms. Bento in the fridge on "we throw everything out on the last Friday of the month" Friday. :( I didn't get a new one because a new cafeteria opened up at work with good salads and soups for totally reasonable prices, so I just do that instead.

This reminds me of some good snark. I originally started doing the bento lunch thing with some friends of mine, and we'd post photos of it because that's what the internet is for. I eventually joined a Flickr group on which most people posted mediocre lunches, some posted really well-done food art, and one woman posted things like this: 10/20/2009 His Bento . We used to make fun of her privately because ALL of her lunches were pretty much just like that.

Eventually some random blogger noticed it and this happened: http://samablog.robsama.com/?p=5176 . Ms. Gross Lunch actually kept posting, and has continued to post pictures of food for the past six years.

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samurai_sarah

I usually do, about once or twice a week, for my SO. It's my "I can't sleep, so I'm going to cook up a storm, and we're going to eat this for the next four days" - activity. Usually, I keep it simple with rice, a main dish, some salad/veg/pickles on the side, and then decorate the hell out of it. It's a relaxing exercise for me, which refocusses my brain, because I get to be hands-on creative and worry about what will go with what, plus zomg, do I have any pickled radish left?

But I pulled out the stops a bit for tomorrow's lunch, because I find it easier than putting together a picnic basket. It's a bit of a mix. There's hard-boiled egg, boiled rice, kimchi, preserved sesame leaves, pickled radish of two sorts, surimi, salad, seasoned dried squid, inari sushi, deep-fried crab-claws, carrot, cucumber, Korean spinach and a botched version of bulgogi (I forgot to buy beef, so all I had was mince. It doesn't look all that appealing, but there's nothing you can't pretty-up with some sliced spring-onions and roasted sesame seeds, right?). So, ahem, yeah, I like to push out the boat every now and then, but it helps that I have most of this stuff lying around anyway. Why, yes, of course, who doesn't make a vat of kimchi, and seasons their dried squid for future use, or has a whole drawer in the freezer just for different types of seaweed/laver? :oops:

Okay, full disclosure, with a Korean parent, you sort of always end up having a load of banchans ("side-dishes") at hand anyway- add rice, end up with a full meal. And then you get "care-parcels", because god forbid, you might be unable to get your hands onto the "right" sort of seaweed, or run out of sesame oil at an inopportune moment. Also, pickles. I'm going to stereotype here: Korean mothers* get this idea that their children are going to starve unless they have 20kg of rice, more pickled stuff than anyone can humanly consume, gochujang, doensang, soy-sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. At hand, at all times.

So, ahem, my fridge is usually full of banchans anyway, and some hard-boiled eggs. Because you never know when you need one. :oops: And I don't like making sandwiches, because a) they don't smell like "home", b) the creativity focusses on the taste, and c) I wouldn't get to use up all the banchans. Plus, I do have some lovely lacquered bento boxes.

TL;DR: I love bento boxes, because *for me* they're quick and easy. And they allow me to be creative. And if anyone's got any must-share recipes/ideas, I'm all ears.

* It's probably less of a "Korean" mum thing, than a "parent-thing". At last a quick, informal poll amongst friends of different faiths and ethnicities indicates so.

eta: the blushing oops-smiley seems to have changed. So, just imagine me blushing there?

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Arete

samurai_sarah, around here Koreans are refered to as the Italians of southeast Asia for the seriousness they put into meals and the family table. :D

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samurai_sarah
samurai_sarah, around here Koreans are refered to as the Italians of southeast Asia for the seriousness they put into meals and the family table. :D

:lol: It is very, very serious. Verbal fistfights about the precisely right amount of sesame oil have been conducted, and it's sport to taste other people's kimchi and guess which region they come from. But when I witness friends from Italy (all from different regions) together in one kitchen, I always feel like maybe I'm a dilettante. Apparently something seemingly simple like boiling pasta is such a fine art that feuds start over it.

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Maggie Mae
...snip...

And then you get "care-parcels", because god forbid, you might be unable to get your hands onto the "right" sort of seaweed, or run out of sesame oil at an inopportune moment.

Does this really happen? I live in an area where it's pretty hard to find certain items, but sesame oil and seaweed are pretty commonplace..

As for the ACTUAL topic: I have made bentos in the past, and I have some of the cutsy stuff, but I rarely actually do it anymore. It's easier to just use those reusable glad / zip lock containers and a plastic grocery bag for food.

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samurai_sarah

Does this really happen? I live in an area where it's pretty hard to find certain items, but sesame oil and seaweed are pretty commonplace..

(snip)

It didn't, while I lived in London, where you can get pretty much everything. Once I moved away, it was a tad more difficult. Nowadays, I get "care-parcels" again. There are some things I simply can't get. Sesameoil and seaweed are usually available in supermarkets, but for lack of a better comparison, it's like eating canned salmon, when you're used to fresh. Or like winding up with a jar of Hellman's, when you need Miracle Whip. And some of the more specialized things, I have a hell of a time finding. The supermarkets around here are Chinese, so it's a bit much to ask them to carry Korean foods. They usually have a limited number of items, but it can be difficult. My point was more about the "right" kind of stuff than anything else, but yes, I do still receive "care parcels". :D

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WifeofBill

I make my daughter the cutesy American style bentos. I started last year with my oldest two when I was sick of the amount of ziplocs we were going through. I haven't actually bought any ziplocs in a year! My son is in middle school so, cutesy fun lunches are out, but at least he likes the bento style boxes. At the beginning of last school year I was going all out with the lunches, they were themed, colorful, super cute, over the top, that lasted until Christmas. Hoping to get back into it this school year. I will try and post some pictures later today or tonight when my toddler goes down.

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okayobee

I used to make bentos more often but these days too busy to put any effort into making my lunch pretty. It's amazing I pack lunch at all. I might manage a silicone cup but none of the dividers or the small animal shaped sauce holders. I still have them. I can't seem to part with them. I do however love looking at bento blogs, flikr groups and pinterest. I'd love to have the time to get back to it. Its a great way to do portion control and give yourself bit of a gift at lunch time.

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WifeofBill

Here is my Angry Birds bento I made. This one was a pain, and she barely ate any of it :roll: She decided that day that she didn't like babybell cheese, or the crust, or rice. She did eat the cupcakes, lol.

post-5821-14451998106939_thumb.jpg

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Isis
I make my daughter the cutesy American style bentos. I started last year with my oldest two when I was sick of the amount of ziplocs we were going through. I haven't actually bought any ziplocs in a year! My son is in middle school so, cutesy fun lunches are out, but at least he likes the bento style boxes. At the beginning of last school year I was going all out with the lunches, they were themed, colorful, super cute, over the top, that lasted until Christmas. Hoping to get back into it this school year. I will try and post some pictures later today or tonight when my toddler goes down.

I make them for my daughter too.... I'm a SAHM but we're out and about the majority of the day so I pack her lunch in the am and we "picnic" somewhere around noon.

Some of my stuff I bought while we were living in Japan, the rest on trips to Hawaii. Amazon has some really cute stuff too though.... I've been gifting cute bento boxes and animal picks whenever we've had an invite to a BD party for kids just starting finger foods. Seem to go over quite well.....

When we lived in Japan, I would see tons of magazines and books at the stores of nothing but bento lunches for kids. Super cute stuff!

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Muriel Heslop

I did bentos for my kids once. Took all day. Too many kids. May never happen again. They do sit around and pore over my bento "cookbooks" though.

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tenth muse

I've never really thought about doing that, but it's a great idea. I don't normally get to eat my lunch at uni until 2 or so in the afternoon, so I'd be a bit worried about whether some of the things would go off (especially in our summer heat).

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