Bento No. 75: An entirely made-ahead bento featuring mini cabbage rolls


Bento contents:

  • 3 bento sized mini cabbage rolls, 180 calories
  • Green beans stir fried with ginger and sesame oil, 60 calories
  • Carrot slices cooked with the cabbage rolls, 5 calories
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) rice from frozen stash, 160 calories

Total calories (approx): 405 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5 to 10 minutes in the morning to defrost and pack up the bento

Type: Japanese, everything made in advance; low-carb adjustable by reducing or replacing rice

This is a bento featuring those bento sized mini cabbage rolls I described last time. Everything in this bento is pre-made! The mini cabbage rolls were made in advance and frozen (together with the carrot slices, which were just cooked along with the cabbage rolls), the rice is from my freezer stash, and the green beans are leftovers from the night before - simply stir fried with a little chopped ginger and sesame oil. Because the vegetables are all pre-cooked, they aren’t that vibrant in color, but they still taste great. I added a splash of color with that old standby, cherry tomatoes, keeping on the blossom ends for a bit of green. All you have to do in the morning is to pack up the box. You could even do this the night before if you prefer.

As you can see, there is less rice than I used to pack in this bento, because I’m trying to reduce the amount of carbs I eat (more on that over on Just Hungry if you’re interested). There’s just about 2/3rds cup of cooked rice here, or about the amount of rice that would be served in a small Japanese rice bowl. If you need more carbs, it’s easy to add more rice, and if you’re eating strictly low or no-carb, I would add one or two more cabbage rolls and leave out the rice, or replace it with a lower-carb alternative. The cabbage rolls are not so salty that they need the rice as a foil. (And yes I did use white rice. I have some I want to use up. You can use brown rice or other grain of your choice here if you prefer.)

I used a microwave-safe box so that I could heat up the cabbage rolls, though they are good cold too.

The bento box I used


The box is a two-tier one with Ponyo on the lid. The smaller tier has a flexible leak-resistant lid. This box is great for people who like to divide their food up into little compartments in their bento boxes, since it has not one but two dividers. If you used them both, you could arrange your food into six little divisions. It also comes with a sort of half-moon rice mold that you can press on top of yoru rice to give it some definition and make it a little easier to pick up with chopsticks. (See also: cubed bento rice.)


This box is available from J-List/JBox. They also have the same bento box in bright red with Hello Kitty on the lid- that one even comes with a matching drawstring bag.

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Re: Bento No. 75: An entirely made-ahead bento featuring ...

I love your bentos - and was so happy to receive your book in the mail today, from Japan. No, I couldn't wait to order it here in the States! I have watched with interest your comments on low-carb bentos, as I'm on that particular diet right now and enjoying the results, but missing my traditional Japanese favorites with rice.

I do have to say that the bento above could not be considered low-carb by any stretch - 1 C of white rice has as many carbs as is allowed in an entire day on a fairly liberal low-carb diet, and all the veggies are carbs too! So this box probably holds a full day's worth of carbs. A quarter-cup is probably a more reasonable amount to eat at any one meal, if any. White rice is pretty much like dessert from a sugar/GI standpoint and should be considered a special and rare treat, though that's hard enough for me, much less a Japanese person.

On the other hand, the mini-cabbage rolls are perfect and definitely a low-carb item. In the overall bento, you'd want to rebalance the protein up and the carbs down for a lower-GI lower-carb meal. There are some much higher protein and high-fiber grains you could use to provide the bland foil, and you could gradually start working those in until you get more used to eating them in place of white rice. I've found they're just as yummy with furikake and other traditional Japanese toppings. Good luck and I look forward to more on this topic!

Re: Bento No. 75: An entirely made-ahead bento featuring ...

Yes I'm investigating the whole carb thing right now...take a look at the Just Hungry post I linked to. I realize this bento as it stands is not that low carb but I mentioned it because it's very easy to adjust it to be so, by reducing, eliminating or replacing the rice. And, thank you for buying my book! ^_^

ETA: I've edited the article a bit to be more accurate, that it's low-carb adjustable rather than low-carb as it stands.

Re: Bento No. 75: An entirely made-ahead bento featuring ...

Love the box and Ponyo! I have a box in the same style (also from J-List) featuring Totoro and the soot sprites. Looks like the Ponyo box comes with the same accessories. I might have to get one!

Re: Bento No. 75: An entirely made-ahead bento featuring ...

I' m pretty lucky I never developed a taste for white rice until I was old enough to know it was junk food. My mom's mom was a beatnik and my mom was a hippy and now I'm a hipster and I grew up eating whole grains.

White rice is good though, it was like when I was a kid and would eat right out of the box of brown sugar, good times.

Re: Bento No. 75: An entirely made-ahead bento featuring ...

I love the box. The food looks great in it. Plus its a good thing to put ur food or lunch there coz it has division.

Re: Bento No. 75: An entirely made-ahead bento featuring ...

Ok, I have a question about the Rice Cooker Method.
Do you put the stock in, and put the 'balls' directly in the stock, or on the steamer rack that some rice cookers come with?

Re: Bento No. 75: An entirely made-ahead bento featuring ...

I put the cabbage balls directly in the stock. My rice cooker doesn't have a steamer rack ^_^

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