Oct 18

5 Foods to Pack in Your Bento

in Bento Buddy, LFM Videos

Edamame Onigiri Bento

Packing a bento day in and day out requires a bit of thought, unless you want to end up in a rut, packing the same thing in your bento box every day.  But part of the buddy system is helping each other get out of that rut, right?

Bento Buddy

Here are some ideas to get you going:

5 Foods to Pack in Your Bento

1. Leftovers: One of the best things to consider when packing a bento is what leftovers might be already sitting in your refrigerator.  Does your family have a favorite meal?  Plan ahead and make a bit extra, making life even easier for yourself!  For this particular bento, I packed my Zojirushi Mr. Bento with a leftover veggie hamburger patty from dinner the night before, spread with a bit of teriyaki sauce, fresh broccoli, fresh tomatoes and grapes, and brown rice.  Looking for more ways to fill a Mr. Bento?  Check out the Mr. Bento flickr group!

Mr. Bento filled with Vegetarian burger with brown rice, fresh fruit, and veggies

2. Sandwiches: Just because it’s a bento doesn’t mean sandwiches are off limits!  I like this Sistema Box that has a separated compartment, perfect for keeping a sandwich separated from the rest of the food (without wasting another ziploc bag).  Looking for a new sandwich idea to change things up a bit?  How about a twist on the classic chicken salad sandwich?  This recipe is an oldie, but a goodie, adding mandarin oranges to the chicken salad for extra sweetness.  Ms. K’s Chicken Salad Sandwiches


Sandwich with Fruit and Veggies Bento

3. Sandwich Wraps: Sandwich wraps are fantastic in a bento.  I like including half of a wrap, like my favorite veggie wraps with wheat berry spread, along with something else, like steamed sweet potatoes tossed in a bit of orange marmalade and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.  Sandwich Wrap with Wheat Berry Spread

Sandwich Wrap Bento

4. Pasta Salads: Although a lunch jar, like Zojirushi’s stainless steel lunch jar, is a great way to pack soups and stews, don’t forget about your cold items as well!  Lunch jars are perfect for keeping dishes like pasta salad fresh until you’re ready to eat.

Zojirushi Lunch Jar filled with pasta salad

5. Onigiri: The favorite bento choice in my family is onigiri (Japanese rice balls), so of course I can’t miss an opportunity to share another idea for how to incorporate onigiri into a bento.  There are endless ways to make onigiri, and they keep well, making them a great choice to keep returning to when packing a bento.  This particular bento, using edamame onigiri, is quicky and easy to make, especially if you do a bit of the prep work in advance.  If your kids are like mine, the smiles on their faces make it even more worth it!

Onigiri Bentos make the Fujilings happy

To help you out I’ve put together a quick video tutorial showing you just how easy this bento is:

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayne October 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

These are things I’d usually bring for lunch too. Leftovers are the best! Today, I brought leftover fried bihun (rice noodles), a bit of pulled pork (your slow-cooker recipe), a fried egg and some stirfried napa cabbage. One for me and one for hubby. Better homemade than eating out. I fall back on sandwiches a lot too, stuffed with whatever I have handy.


Fuji Nana October 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Those two happy faces are a great endorsements.


Linda | The Urban Mrs October 19, 2012 at 10:17 am

Love the idea – I sometimes have trouble packing them up and this is so inspiring. Do you pack the same for adults?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm

@Linda | The Urban Mrs — What I pack depends more on the situation than on whether I’m packing for a child or an adult! I’m a big believer that kids should be eating whatever everyone else is eating (there is no “kid food” in our family vocabulary), and so that definitely translates into what I pack into a bento. That being said, it’s also hard for kids to eat certain things on the schedule many schools follow. My daughter is given an insanely short amount of time to consume her lunch at school, so I try to pack things that are going to be visually appealing and easy to eat! I’d love to hear what some of your struggles are . . . let’s design a bento plan just for you!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm

@Jayne — So glad to hear there’s another leftovers fan out there!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm

@Fuji Nana — Not that you’re biased or anything . . . . ;)


Stephanie (kitchen frolic) October 22, 2012 at 6:37 am

I love bento boxes. My mom used to pack lunches for me in bento boxes when I was a kid and I didn’t appreciate it then (especially when all my friends had brown bags or traditional lunchboxes), but now, as an adult, I totally appreciate the beauty of the bento!


Hiragana Mama October 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm

These are all great ideas! I am always so intimidated by bento, but I need to remember that simple and easy is okay too!


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