No ingredients

Joined: 25 Apr 2010
User offline. Last seen 8 years 7 weeks ago.


I'm a college student and I live alone. I normally cook only for myself. After making several bento boxes, I realize that since bento is like having a little bit of this and a little bit of that, I need to stock up many ingredients in my fridge. Items like eggs pose no problems, but the problem comes when I need vegetables. I can't buy just a tiny piece of vegetables from groceries store, so normally I end up with rotten vegetables in my fridge because I can't make use of them before they go bad.

Do you have any suggestions on what items I can store in the fridge for quite a long time before they go bad?


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Bento-ing from: › Germany
Joined: 11 Aug 2009
User offline. Last seen 7 years 16 weeks ago.
Re: No ingredients

hi luzzy
i like your blog, but those bentos really lack some "real" vegetables!
there are many ways to stop things from going bad in your fridge. you could simply cut and blanch the vegetables you can't use right away, then freeze them. or cook anything out of them and freeze the results.. how big is your freezer space?
some ingredients help preserve food, any recipe with lots of salt, sugar and anything acidic won't go bad that fast because it counteracts the grows of bacteria and fungi. maki's "cooked to death peppers" keep quite well in fridge temperatures, for example (unless someone unexpectedly bums food from your fridge because it's sunday and the stores are closed. i don't mind feeding the hungry, but it makes me wish i had bought even more bell peppers last week..) i add a little chili and ginger and lemon, which are also good for a longer fridgelife.
a good stock of clean twist-top jars to put portions of food in the fridge helps avoiding spoilage with already cooked foods.
pickles are good!
you could also make your own kimchee, there's a recipe around here somewhere. haven't tried it, though- i'm not really a kimchee person and buy my sauerkraut already fermented at the farmer's market.
hard vegetables like carrots won't spoil as easily as watery stuff like cucumbers, by the way.
and a bag of dried shiitake might be a good idea for you, they don't even need to be in the fridge and are good to have around..

Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 3 weeks 2 days ago.
Re: No ingredients

Hi luzzy, and welcome to the forum :)

The key to managing your food inventory, so to speak, is to try to plan your bentos, and maybe even dinners too, beforehand so that you can figure out how to use up your produce as much as possible without wasting it. You can use the Weekly Meal Planner or the simpler Weekly Bento Planner, or use your own system. So for instance, if you buy a cucumber, you can plan how to use it up in 2 or 3 meals.

Freezing and pickling are options for keeping vegetables a bit longer too of course! But even frozen or pickled stuff does eventually go bad. So again, the key is planning! It isn't as much work as it may sound, believe me!


The Big Onigiri.

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Joined: 25 Apr 2010
User offline. Last seen 8 years 7 weeks ago.
Re: No ingredients

Thanks rehfilet and maki for the advice!

Rehfilet, can you suggest me some "real" vegetables? I used those vegetables I had in my blog because they came in frozen, so they could be stored longer. My fridge and freezer space isn't that small, but even if I put green vegetables in the fridge, they would either dry or go bad after a while :(

Bento-ing from: › Germany
Joined: 11 Aug 2009
User offline. Last seen 7 years 16 weeks ago.
Re: No ingredients

ah, sorry for the delay, i'm working long shifts and didn't check the forum.
a "real" vegetable is (to me) anything that looks, feels and smells like a recognizable part of a plant. it probably has some dirt on it when you buy it.
i don't understand the appeal of those cubed veggie mixes. unless you puree them, you'll always get that machine-cut feeling about the finished meal. it reminds me of hospital food and puts me off. i also think that most vegetables improve a lot with a little frying to caramelize those sugars, and the frozen tiny bits are too moist for that. everything tends to have the same texture, it's impossible to get a variety of crunchy bites of one thing and mushy bites of another thing and still something different like spicier/saltier bites in one dish.
i do use some frozen vegetables (usually spinach and something cabbagey like brokkoli or brussel sprouts because i don't need much of those and they freeze well) and i freeze leftovers and blanched stuff bought in bulk and packed in smallish amounts (there's squash and hummus and sweet black beans and spicey red bell peppers right now, i think). i don't have a big supply of vegetables in the fridge, some fennel and a head of lettuce, bought with the roots which i wrapped in wet kitchen towels. it's been there for 5 days and is still all fresh and crunchy! i just pick some leaves for sandwiches every day :) i missed the farmer's market today, but there will be another on saturday. it's three times a week and just around the corner, so i don't really have to store fresh things that may spoil.
guess i'll celebrate spring food this weekend and splurge on asparagus and strawberries for lunch with my parents (is that even a verb?) because some things simly shouldn't be stored at all..

Re: No ingredients

I like frozen peas and corn. I find frozen carrots completely lacking in flavour, and will not touch them!

I'm in a similar position to you, luzzy, and am often cooking for myself. The only time I find myself throwing food out is when life gets in the way and I don't have time to cook for a few days. If I'm cooking regularly, I find I don't need to throw things out.

It starts with one recipe. Maybe tabbouleh to go with my frozen lasagna (I will eat the lasanga over the course of the entire week). But then there's half a cucumber left, what do I do with that? Well, a cucumber salad! So the next day I buy the ingredients for that... I only buy ingredients on the day that I intend to make the food. Never ahead. Maki's recipes are really great because they're often in manageable portion sizes. Other bloggers who are cooking for large families often post recipes that make way too much food.

Generally I keep my starches and meats in the freezer, with only my "green" veggies in the fridge. (Canada's food guide recommends one dark green and one orange fruit/veggie per day.) For my orange fruit/veggie, I'll either use carrots (Maki has so many yummy carrot recipes!) or canned peaches in a fruit salad that I can freeze. Sometimes oranges, if they're in season. As much as I love clementines, I can't eat a whole box before they go bad (well, not without digestive problems).

My suppers are also often similar to or the same as my lunches. It helps to use up food while it's still good :) If I have to throw something out, I usually console myself that it only cost $2. Anything that costs less than a load of laundry is acceptable.

I hope you find something that works for you, because there are so many wonderful veggie recipes out there that you're missing out on!

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