The important thing this week is that there’s any sort of plan at all. We have friends in town early in the week, events Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I work again on the weekend evenings. On the plus side, I am off on Wednesday and we have Thursday night at home together. We made a conscious decision to make this a very low-cooking week-only Thursday night involves any cooking of scale. I also knew we needed more lunch options, since we wouldn’t be
Building off of my new lunch parameters (no soft food, no heating), I headed to Pinterest for some inspiration. The most appealing no-heat lunch? Bento box!
I found my way to the magical land of justbento.com. Clear, just whimsical enough, and incredibly informative, Makiko’s site is a living text book of bento. I can’t possible explain any of her methods better than she can, so I’ll link over where appropriate!
SUNDAY: Prep Day
I realize it’s important to note all the things we do in advance, especially for a week that’s mostly putting things together. On Sunday evening, I spent a little less than three hours cooking and made:
- 2 grilled chicken breasts – for slicing in bento lunches or eating in a wrap (well, technically Dave made these)
- Tofu, mushroom, and spinach ramen. Homemade ramen! You use the noodles from the packets and build your own sauce around them. Pretty rad. Our recipe came from the New Best Recipe Skillet book, but surely there are many out there. We ate two portions for dinner and had two leftover for lunches.
- Beef soboro. The link provides the best explanation, but soboro is basically a flavored meat or fish crumble that you can use on top of dishes as a flavoring. It’s definitely of the “meat on the side” ethos.
- Onigiri AKA rice balls! Sweet jesus, they’re so good. I put a little bit of the beef soboro in the middle and wrapped them in nori. They weren’t hard to make at all, they just involved a fair amount of time start to finish, but most of that was not active time. I first encountered onigiri under the name “musubi,” specifically, ahem, spam musubi, which are overwhelmingly delicious and widely available at Hawaiian restaurants. Of course, musubi are the result of Japanese migration to Hawaii, so they’re all part and parcel of the same idea! You don’t have to fill them, but you can, and with pretty much anything. Dave has requested we make these every week.
- Soup eggs: hard-boiled eggs that are finished, shells off, in the soup made from ramen packets. I thought this was a great one-two punch so that we didn’t waste the dried soup packets from the packs of ramen. Something went awry with the cooking time…I ended up with half-cooked eggs with sticky shells that pulled away huge chunks of egg. I am going to try to eat the scraggly core that I was able to pull out and boiled in the soup, but adjustments will be made next time.
The Bento Boxes
So with our cooking on Sunday and a trip to the grocery store, here are all the things that can be combined into bento boxes:
- Grilled chicken
- In a tortilla
- On its own
- Soup eggs
- A red pepper
- Chili-garlic sauteed kale (leftover from Sunday lunch)
- Block of colby jack cheese
- Fresh rice (I count this as pre-made, since it requires 2 minutes of prep and could be made morning-of)
- Beef soboro
This first attempt at a bento lunch week is feeling a little more snack plate than composed lunch, but that’s quite the antidote to my problems from last week, so I say who cares. I’m snackin’!
MONDAY: Dinner with friends. Ethiopian!
TUESDAY: Dave makes his own dinner.
WEDNESDAY: Mexican Night – Quesadillas
THURSDAY: Asian Night (switcheroo) – Tuna Skewers with Mochi Cakes and Carrot and Yuzu Salad
The big cooking night! This is a wild recipe. Mochi, at least the mochi that makes it to the U.S., tends to be sweet, so this savory application where the mochi cake is the starch on an otherwise traditional protein-starch-veg plate is very intriguing.