Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Start of my Bento Journey

Well, as we all know, the economy is hitting some of us pretty hard. I know I'm always looking for ways to save money, and I bet you are too. Well, my search for a way to pinch pennies reminded me of how I used to take my lunches as a kid, and...well, why not do it again?

I have always had a love for anything Japanese, Korean, etc., and upon receiving a rice cooker as a gift, I knew just the PERFECT way to start taking my lunches...a Bento! Now, I know many of you most likely have no idea what a Bento is. Bento is a traditional Japanese single portion meal, consisting of four parts rice, three parts meat, two parts veggie, and one part treat or sweet. It's very healthy, and even though it doesn't sound like it, it's VERY filling.

The best part of Bento though, is the fact that you can make it with really anything, not just traditional Japanese food items. Oh, and it's one of the funnest ways to brighten a dull day. Who can be cranky when you open your Bento box, and see this inside?

Did I forget to mention Bento is all about how cute you can make your food? That's right, everyday boring food items can suddenly become adorable with th use of rice molds, cookie cutters, fun toothpicks, and a bit of imagination. Let's see fi you can figure out what these fun Bento's are made of?

While it's not necessary to have a proper Bento box to store your food creation in before you eat it, it does help keep your rice from drying out. These are my Bento boxes. They are two tiered, and have a compartment on the top for my chopsticks or utensils. I simply adore them.

However, a simple Tupperware or plastic container will work, you just have to be sure to wrap up your rice first, so it won't dry out before lunch time! Like I stated before, you don't have to use all traditional Bento foods either. Here's a fun Bento made our of just cheese, bread and fruit, making it a great snack for kids!

So there you have it; Bento. It's a fun way to eat, that's healthy, portion controlled, and cheap! But I digress...I started making Bento only Tuesday, so I want to kind of chronicle my Bento's that I make for school, and see if I get any better at it. :)

This was my Bento on Wednesday, and I have to admit, for my first time ever, I was kind of proud. But it was BLAND. I always use raw veggies, since cooking them takes away a lot of the nutrients. I peeled and sliced a carrot and part of a cucumber, gave the shavings to my bunnies, and started working!

It's just plain rice, carrot and cucumber slices and cubes, and cucumber stuffed onigiri. I used a cookie cutter to make the cucumber giraffe heads. Since I didn't have my Bento boxes yet, the rice dried out, and since it had no sauce, it was kind of hard to get down. SO I decided to change things up for Friday's lunch.

For Friday, I skipped the rice all together! I made a strawberry jam sandwich, and used a Dolphin cookie cutter to make two smaller sandwiches. I used some cucumber slices as a divider, and placed some hot dog 'octipi', and giraffe shaped cheese slices on a bed of carrot slices on the other side. I think I did a better hob on this land at Bento, as it was very tasty, and not bland at all.

Well, I hope you'll come back and see my Bento Journey on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays!

Love and Lightning Bugs,
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