Things that get better over night

Bento-ing from: › Netherlands (Holland, Europe)
Joined: 22 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 8 years 43 weeks ago.

I like to prepare my lunch the night before, but some dishes are not suitable for that. I am looking for more ideas for things that don't suffer from a night in the refrigerator, or, better, that even need to be made a night ahead. Anything that is marinated for example.

I just made leek: Chop, cook in bullion, not too soft, then add some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, mustard and chopped gherkin. Cover and keep cool for a night.

As this has to go into the part of my bento box with the watertight lid, the carbs have to go into the other compartment and thus must be "dry". I made a bunch of grain burgers and store them in the fridge, they can be packed frozen. A hard boiled egg goes nicely with the leek.

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Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 8 years 43 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

I pretty much Always make my lunch the night before, and one thing that usually suffers in the fridge over night is rice. But a tasty alternative that actually gets better from a night, (or a few days) in the fridge is taboli, (taboule, tabbouleh, etc.)
I usually buy a tabuli mix made by a local company here. You have to mix it with cold water, oil, and lemon juice, and then add (optional, but fabulous) cucumber, tomatoes, and fresh parsley and green onion. I usually add a bit of dried parsley and mint, too. It may seem like more of a salad, but it's mostly a grain dish being at least about 65%-75% wheat.
This is the brand I use: unfortunately online they only sell in bulk. I would be willing to ship a package or 2, but I'm sure shipping from OK (middle of US) to the middle of Europe is horrible.
It is a Mediterranean dish, so in Europe, you can probably find some where that sells a mix or just bulgar wheat. - Here is some good recipes for making it from scratch, and other things to do with bulgar.
Taboli is very personal, with some restaurants around here serving it with about 50% parsley or more, which is a bit too much, I think. It is great with some other veg, and some protein, either Mediterranean themed or not, like some hummus, kofta, or falafel.
I just made some into 1/2 cup portions using the onigiri plastic wrap method and am freezing it. I'll update for how it turns out. I'm going to try defrosting it in the fridge over night in my bento as it is usually served cold, and because I make my bentos the night before, anyway.
I'm starting a bento blog, (no posts yet, but will be later today) ( I know, there's already tons of them) but because I make mine the night before, it's a little different, and if you want to check it out and/or ask questions and exchange suggestions, it's
And my email is ravenfaerie [at] valornet [dot] com
Feel free to email me, I'd love to exchange info and tips with a fellow night before bento-er.


My Dearest Friend, If You Don't Mind, I'd Like To Join You By Your Side, So We Can Gaze Into The Stars, And Sit Together, Now And Forever, For It's As Plain As Anyone Can See, We're Simply Meant To Be.

Bento-ing from: › Germany
Joined: 11 Aug 2009
User offline. Last seen 7 years 45 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

fried ratatouille-style vegetables work quite well and taste even better if they are allowed to sit in the fridge for a night.
i take 2 onions, 1-2 carrots, 2-4 fresh garden tomatoes, 1 zucchini, 1 small aubergine, 1 bell pepper (additionally, throw in a bit of celery or whatever may be around. the more, the merrier!) and 4- 6 cloves of garlic and fry them in a good amount of olive oil, starting with the onions and adding the other stuff one by one in my biggest skillet. oh yeah, i cut everything up before throwing it in the pan. expect for the tomatoes- i'm a barbarian and throw them in whole. i don't mind the seeds and i just fish the skins out once the are separated by the cooking process. the garlic goes in last, together with a handfull of fresh herbs- basil and thyme and rosemary- and a spoon or so of brown cane sugar. i now let this simmer-fry patiently until all the water in the veggie liquids has evaporated. the tomatoes are no longer much visible but their taste is now in the ( otherwise rather boring) zucchini and aubergine bits, mixed with olive oil and garlic and herbs.. keep on frying until the zucchini turn slightly golden. salt, but not much is needed.
goodnight for now!

Bento-ing from: Dunedin › New Zealand
Joined: 12 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 6 years 14 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

I also make tabbouleh for my bentos. I don't use a mix; sometimes I use bulghur (bulgar, bulgur) wheat, but sometimes I use whole wheat or pearl barley. The whole grains are lovely and chewy. I usually use mint, parsley, spring onions, and lemon juice. Lots of fresh parsley is delicious, but I don't think I'd like to use dried stuff in such quantities. Today I had it with a teriyaki chicken drumstick and some vege curry, which was a bit of an odd mixture but tasted good.
On the subject of which, curries also improve with age. I'm not super keen on very sauce-y curries in a bento, but dry-ish curries are good. The one I had today was cauliflower, broccoli, and hard boiled eggs cooked in Thai green curry. When the veges etc were done I removed them then I reduced the sauce right down to almost nothing before putting them back.



My blog is Food and Shoes

The Fat Lady
Re: Things that get better over night

This is such a great thread, and I'll be sure to check out your blog. I, too, make lunch the night before, and find it tends to add a little planning anxiety to the bento process. Anything that makes the experience as serene as it seems to be for everyone else is great. Thanks!

Bento-ing from: NYC
Joined: 30 Jul 2010
User offline. Last seen 8 years 42 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

Any sort of meat, fowl or fish tastes better (and weirdly, warmer than the fridge temp) the day after. Broths, however you use them, also develop deeper notes overnight. Combo items such as stuffed sweet potato 'pigs' (see Maki's lovely recipe) demonstrate enriched flavors the next day; I also like to leave mayonnaise-based fillers for onigiri or dumplings overnight, as the full flavor really blooms that way. :-)

Joined: 22 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 8 years 40 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

Hi Henni,

I saw this and thought about your post:
um, sorry don't know how to link that.

I now realise it's more for "freezer dishes" than "better overnight in the fridge dishes", I guess I didn't remember clearly what you were after - sorry! But hopefully there will be some useful links or comments on that page.

Your grain burgers sound like a great idea by the way!

Re: Things that get better over night

I am curious, has anyway tried cooking rice the night before in a rice cooker and holding it overnight?

Re: Things that get better over night

you should really check out this article!

I made 4 rice portions last night in my rice cooker just as the article described, and it turned out great today! I microwaved for about 3 minutes (in 1 minute increments because i didn't know for how long to cook it) with the plastic wrap on, then let cool a bit, and carefully removed plastic wrap as i put in bento. Make sure to let the rice cool very well before you finish packing your bento because condensation causes spoilage.

I also put in some pickled ginger to help prevent rice spoiling, and it seemed to work!

good luck with your bentos!

Re: Things that get better over night

Yes, I have tried cooking the rice the night before and leave it on keep warm in the rice cooker until the morning. The rice is still good and better then having cooked rice left in the fridge.

I prefer to make my bento box the night before or the only thing I need to do in the morning is assemble all the ingredients together. So no cooking is involved in the morning. But as my office has no microwave it has to be food I can eat cold. Since many cooked food I found do not taste quite nice when it has been in the fridge overnight. Any pack lunch I usually just stick to pasta salad or sandwiches.

Bento-ing from: NYC
Joined: 30 Jul 2010
User offline. Last seen 8 years 42 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

Do you mean holding in the cooker? That I haven't tried. I've held cooked rice overnight in the form of onigiri, and it's absolutely delicious but not perhaps 'better' than freshly made.

Bento-ing from: Bloomington › Indiana › USA
Joined: 28 May 2009
User offline. Last seen 7 years 8 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

I've held rice overnight. Mine has a timer so I usually just set it before bed and it's ready when I get up. But, sometimes I make extra for dinner and just let it hang around on "warm" until the next morning. It doesn't seem to work very well for brown rice - it gets all soppy and mushy- but white rice is usually fine.

Also, someone mentioned rice suffering in the fridge overnight. I've found that if you scoop it into plastic wrap and squish it into a ball or log and wrap it nice and tight it's fine!

As far as dishes to make the night before I'm not really sure. I have been making my son's lunches the night before and so far everything has been fine the next day. Of course, he's 5 so he doesn't exactly have the highest standards! lol

I do usually like to have "left over" curry and I've made sushi rolls MANY times the night before. Just don't slice them until the morning or slice and then wrap in extra extra plastic wrap so they're all tight against each other.

Bento-ing from: Queens › New York › USA
Joined: 8 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 8 years 36 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

when I make cold blend dishes like my shredded jellyfish + shredded cucumber +shredded fake crab meat + shredded seaweed +soy sauce + vinegar + sesame oild blend it tastes so much better when it's cold and left over night

Bento-ing from: › Finland
Joined: 27 Oct 2009
User offline. Last seen 8 years 41 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

Any soup or casserole with lots of spices in it seems to get better when stored overnight in my opinion. For example this egyptian red lentil soup:

1 1/4 litre vegetable stock
200 grams red lentils
4 tomatoes
2 onions
white pepper
bay leaves
(ground cumin)

You don't have to soak red lentils overnight, just wash them well. Chop tomatoes (remove skins if you can be bothered or just fish them out later...) and onions. Bring vegetable stock to boil, throw in lentils, tomatoes and onion and LOTS of spices, especially cloves. Let simmer until the lentils turn yellowish and mushy, at least 20 minutes but the longer, the better.
I think this soup really does get better when stored in the fridge overnight and reheated later - the flavor of cloves and other spices gets absorbed into the stock. Yummy!
I usually make the soup version but it can be a bit impractical for bento unless you have a very tight-lidded box. But this can be easily turned into a casserole by reducing the amount of liquid. And even the soup version becomes thicker in the fridge anyway when the lentils absorb some of the liquid.

Bento-ing from: Marietta › Georgia › USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2009
User offline. Last seen 8 years 33 weeks ago.
Re: Things that get better over night

I am starting a job tomorrow in which I could be called to work on short notice on any weekday morning, so this is something I have been thinking about, too! I'm not going to have time most mornings to spend 15 or 20 minutes making lunch, and my bank account is drained so buying ready-made food, even from the school lunch line, is simply not an option. Here is what I have though of so far:

I make a big batch once every week or two and freeze it in some 1.25 cup Rubbermaid containers. When I need it, I defrost for about 45 seconds in the microwave, then scoop out half of the container to continue reheating for the meal I'm packing (unless I'm packing two meals, in which case I'll use the whole thing) and put the other half in the container in the fridge. I find brown rice keeps just fine in the fridge for a day or two, and white rice really doesn't suffer in my fridge over one night as long as the container has a good seal.

Maki's Carrot Kinpira
I am addicted to this stuff! I don't think I have made a bento without it since I first tried the recipe. And the flavors actually improve after a night in the fridge.

Edamame, shelled and lightly salted... needs no explanation :)

I make these in my rice cooker with vegetable stock, a bay leaf, and a few pinches of whatever spices I think sound nice at the time. This is one of those dishes that tastes just as good, if not better, after the flavors have had some time to really sink in. The best part is that lentils are packed with protein, easier to cook than other legumes, and dirt cheap. I see many meals of lentils and rice in my (very broke) future over the next month. T_T

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