An interesting conundrum for a study abroad student.

momo.peachie
Bento-ing from: › California › USA
Joined: 30 Nov 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 39 weeks ago.

First off, let me mention that I'm new, both to bento-making and this site. Forgive me if I've put this in the wrong place.

I'm an American student studying abroad in Tokyo right now. I'm living with a host family.

Due to a bit of miscommunication, in which I put in a bit too much food into the fridge, my host mom has revoked my fridge privileges. D: This, however, hasn't really stopped my bento-making, since I have looked around here and took down some ideas, like buying microwaveable rice.

Since I started about a month ago, I've been rotating between making onigiri with fish flakes on the inside, and PB&J sandwiches (I borrow the jam from the family). It's kind of getting a tad bit old, but I'm a bit at a loss as to what to do to make anything new since there's not too much I can buy that is dry, I don't think. I understand that it is a bit tricky, and hopefully, you all can help me a bit! In short:

- I do not care about making my bento pretty, but I do care about my sleep.

- The host family is not responsible for my lunches, and are therefore unwilling to provide me space or buy anything for me.

- The only thing I can put in the fridge is one small thing that will be used the next day, which I've been using most days for a small salad from 7/11.

- I want some more diversity in my meals, so any recipes that would suit my current situation would be lovely!

D: Thank you! <3

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Loretta
Moderator
Bento-ing from: London › UK
Joined: 4 Mar 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 5 weeks ago.
Re: An interesting conundrum for a study abroad student.

At least you're there during the winter - no fridge privileges in summer would have been harsh!

I understand very well that buying food for one person in Tokyo can be expensive (it can be tough to buy enough to make a small meal for less than a ready made meal would cost!).
Cheap staples that don't require refrigeration and aren't too unhealthy/overprocessed include:
Miso (with or without dashi - for your lunch you could get a heatproof container, put in some miso and a pinch of wakame and freeze dried tofu and then just top it up with hot water... most places will have hot water, including convenience stores)
Umeboshi - as well as ume onigiri, there's ume-kaka, which is mashed ume with katsuobushi or you could make portable ochazuke by putting a portion of rice, some umeboshi, a few fishflakes (any kind) and some shredded nori in a sealable bowl/container and top up with hot green tea when you're ready to eat
Katsuobushi (not sure if these are the fish flakes you are currently using)
Nori
Furikake (there are some really delicious ones if you search them out)
Pasta (use a wasabi grater to grate some raw garlic into a bowl, add some olive oil, chopped fresh tomato (squeeze out some of the excess liquid with the palm of your hand first) and some raw onion/shallot/scallion, a pinch of salt and then mix this with hot drained pasta)
Green peppers (the small Japanese ones have thin skins, you can chop them up, put them into a microwave for a minute or two and then dribble on a little sesame oil)
Cucumbers (again, as the Japanese ones are little, just chop them up and add a little vinegar soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil so that they marinade in time for lunch... add a little reconstituted and drained wakame for an interesting salad)
Eggs (just like the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, they can be stored outside the fridge for a few days)

And, although it isn't the ideal bento lunch, soba noodles are pretty economical to make at home.

Korean style pancakes are quick, simple and economical, they are also versatile when it comes to ingredients
http://mykoreankitchen.com/2006/11/17/enoki-mushrooms-pancakes-paeng-ee-... is a good example
try them with the dipping sauce at the end of this alternative (and also very good) recipe:
http://mykoreankitchen.com/2006/10/04/tuna-pancakes-chamchijeon-in-korea...

In your situation, I might just beg the family for one last fridge favour, and that's to be allowed to keep a jar of salmon/sake flakes there
http://justbento.com/handbook/johbisai/furikake-no-7-salmon-furikake-or-...
I'd probably also ask if it's possible to contribute to rice costs - assuming they make a batch of rice in the cooker every day, the theory is that you pay for a daily portion from the pot.

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 2 days 2 hours ago.
Re: An interesting conundrum for a study abroad student.

Do you have access to use the kitchen for cooking?

____________________________________

The Big Onigiri.

- Wherever you go, there you are. -

momo.peachie
Bento-ing from: › California › USA
Joined: 30 Nov 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 39 weeks ago.
Re: An interesting conundrum for a study abroad student.

Yes, I do. Their kitchen is also stocked with an oven and a bread machine, as well as all the other regular kitchen appliances.

Loretta
Moderator
Bento-ing from: London › UK
Joined: 4 Mar 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 5 weeks ago.
Bread machine

Here's the recipe I use for leftover rice:
240ml water
1 egg
425g white bread flour
150g cooked rice
22ml (1.5 tablespoons) milk powder
1.5 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon oil (I use olive oil)
5ml dried yeast granules

None of the ingredients require that you store them in the fridge.
And, of course, be sure not to switch the machine on at a time it could bother anybody - these appliances can be noisy.

redinjapan
Bento-ing from: Ann Arbor › Michigan › USA
Joined: 30 Apr 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 38 weeks ago.
Re: An interesting conundrum for a study abroad student.

That does sounds rough. I hope they're fun to be around, at least (they sound pretty strict!).

I recommend making some of the furikake recipes on this site, to add to you plain white rice. There are many dry furikake, so you can store them in jars in your room. Also, try buying brown rice, too, to get a different texture in your rice diet. Lastly, you can put almost anything into an onigiri, so experiment. Some things that don't necessarily need refrigeration are diced carrots, any dry furikake, and canned tuna with lots of soy sauce. I once put cream cheese and cinnamon in an onigiri, and it tasted pretty good! The cream cheese needs a fridge, however.

Also, fruit is great for making a bento more lively. It's a little expensive in Japan to buy fruit, but bananas are usually pretty cheap.

____________________________________

No one can see the umeboshi on their own back.

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 2 days 2 hours ago.
Re: An interesting conundrum for a study abroad student.

It is a difficult situation, but being in Japan you do have access to the all kinds of premade savory foods, called osouzai, at konbini and supermarkets. It may not be the absolute healthiest since you don't know exactly how they are made (e.g. they probably use some MSG in the dashi and so on) but they are tasty and varied. Take a look around - a lot of it may be deep fried, but I am sure you can find stuff like stewed vegetables, pickles, etc. too.

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