Everyday Lunches To Go

I’ve been in the mainstream media a little bit lately due to the publication of the book. You can’t control what ultimately appears in print or online of course, but sometimes I’ve been a bit bemused by what the reporter has picked up on after an hour or so of talking to me. So far, no one has been nasty though - that’s a good thing, right? ^_^

I really did like this article by Reuters reporter Elaine Lies that appeared this week a lot. She really managed to condense into a few paragraphs what I have been trying to convey, both in the book and on this site, about bentos. Just as the subtitle of the book says, it’s really about Everyday Lunches to Go. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the culture that I come from, what I’m proud of and what I’m not so proud of. While I have ambiguous feelings about some parts of Japanese culture, the bento box, especially homemade bentos, is one I can endorse wholeheartedly. It’s a piece of home, lovingly packed into a little box or two. It’s a little present that you can unwrap and enjoy with your eyes, your taste buds, your stomach and your heart.

bento-chicken-namasu-sm.jpg

This is a perfect example of an everyday bento for me. It has chicken karaage with burdock and two-color namasu, two recipes introduced here recently, plus some simmered komatsuna and carrot with chirimenjako (semi-dried tiny fish) and storebought narazuke pickles. It’s all assembled from things made in advance and stocked in the refrigerator or freezer, so it just took a few minutes to put together.

Granted, it is quite traditional-Japanese. That’s what I grew up with after all. But as many other bentos on this site show, the food you pack into a bento doesn’t have to be Japanese. You can start with foods that are comforting and familiar to you and go from there. I hope you do try the recipes on this site, and that a few will enter your repertoire. But the most important thing about bentos is that they have to taste good, and look good, to you or or whoever you’re making the bento for. And the second most important thing is that bento-making should not be a source of stress, it should be a pleasure.

Anyway, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope that Santa will bring you all the presents you wished for!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

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Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

My next Bento will have Duck stuffed with apples and wines-soacked prunes, knödel and red cabbage. My family's traditional christmas dinner. ^^

Happy Holidays to you too, Maki. Thanks for making my year tastier :)

Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

Thanks so much for all of this. Bentos have changed my life. I discovered them when I was on portion-reduced weight-loss, and now plan to make my own (not just lunches -- boxes). And my husband decided he doesn't want restaurant lunches any more, so every morning, a bento for him, made with supplies and recipes I found here.

On a recent plane trip to San Francisco, I was sitting next to a Japanese couple. When drinks were being handed out, I took out my little container, arranged some yellow slices on a napkin, and offered it to them, saying "Would you like tamagoyaki?" Though they obviously preferred not to accept food from a stranger, I could tell they were pleased.

Dilys in Austin

Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

I'll have you know that Amazon is doing an amazing job linking your book! My mom bought me two bentos that I asked for, and that bought your book because it was in the "items you may like" part.

Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

I'm wondering, do you have any tips on making bentos not look Japanese?

Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

I've been making bentos for a few months now, and really enjoy my lunches. They are an easy way for me to make a portion controlled meal that I look forward to in the middle of the day. Many times I just use leftovers that I've set aside for lunch, but I'm gradually building a stock of freezer staples that make putting lunch together so much easier! Occasionally, I take the time to make something fresh in the morning, as your recipes are all very fast and easy, with ingredients that I usually have on hand. I'd like to more of that, but I'm just not a morning person :) Thanks for your wonderful site, it's been an inspiration for my lunch making!

Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

Hi Maki, Santa did bring me what I hoped for! My husband gave me your book as one of my x'mas presents! :D I read the whole thing yesterday, and it's GREAT :) I hope you will be writing more cookbooks :)

Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

My Santa did the same!

Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

Happy Holidays Maki!
I'm going to try to pick up the bento habit again in January... I'm missing the healthy tasty lunches, am tired of eating greasy cantine food at work. Thanks for all your help here!

Re: Everyday Lunches To Go

I love this website! (P.s. Guess who got a bento for Christmas? Woot!) But it was tiny so im getting another o.o

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