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Back to School: Bento 101

*Dust dust ….. dusting cobwebs off this blog!!* I’m back! Wow, I think this is the longest that I have taken a hiatus without intentionally doing that. We have been out camping & enjoying all that summer activities since we finally got some nice decent summer weather. I know most of the country have started school but we, however, have one more week of summer vacation left. Some of the schools here do not even start school till after Labor Day. Since I am not quite ready to start packing bento lunches yet, I thought it will be fun to do a little bento 101 for all those who have already started school and are looking for lunch ideas.

Q: What exactly is bento?

According to wikipedia, it is a Japanese-form of a balanced packed meal in a box.  Traditionally, a bento contains rice or noodles, some sort of protein and a side of vegetables. However since I am packing for a kid, I have made a few changes to adapt to her taste.  Bento can be packed as elaborate as you want or as simple as you want. Some people love making kyaraben or character bento. As much as I love them, I do not have the time. So my philosophy is to make a simple yet visually appealing healthy balanced food for my little one. For more details, here are a couple of great posts on bento basics: Lunch in a Box and Just Bento.

Q: What do I need to get started on bento making?

Look around in your kitchen and you will probably find that you have the basic bento supply already. All you need is a lunch box, a couple of cookie cutters and you are all set.

Q: I am ready to buy all the fancy-shmancy bento gears, where do I buy them?

Here is a list of places that you can get them from:  Bento Supplies

Q: Do you waste a lot of food when it comes to making bento?

Absolutely not! Here are some of the ways to utilize all the food leftover from bento making. In fact, bento is also great way to make use of leftovers just like my Dim Sum leftovers or leftover fried rice. So, never throw any leftover food away, however little it might be. It might be too little to make a meal but it is never too little for a bento.

Q: I love the octodog. Is it hard to make?

No. Here are a couple tutorials that I made. Hopefully I will add more tutorials soon.

Q: I need some ideas to start my bento. Where can I find them?

First of all, you can start looking through my blog for my previous bentos  for bento ideas. Also, there are groups in flickr that have a lot of great bento.

Q: Do you heat up the bento before eating?

No. They do not have a microwave in school. So all the bento are eaten at room temperature. I usually pack the bento in an insulated lunch bag with an icepack. On occasions that I need the food to be warmer than usual, I will pack the food in a Thermos.


Phew, that was a long one. That’s all I can think off right now. I will update this post if anything else pops into my head. In the meantime, Happy Bento-ing!!!



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