The Get Started Bento Challenge will start on January 12th

The Challenge is now over, but if you would like to do the Challenge on your own, just follow along with the week-by-week tasks. Links at the bottom of this article.

slimbentosb.pngThe bento challenge that I talked about previously here and here, will start on January 13th January 12th.

Why the 13th? Well, I think that at the start of the New Year, a lot of us are very busy with work or school, for ourselves or for our family, cranking up into full gear. So, the 13th seems like a good time to really start concentrating on ourselves and our habits. Since it will extend into February, I’m going to call it the Get Started Bento Challenge.

(Yes, I misread the calendar. As a few people have pointed out, Monday is the 12th. I had forgotten I’d recently changed my iCal settings so that the week starts on a Monday. Anyway, we’ll be going quite slowly the first week, so let’s say we’ll be starting out on the 12/13th. Hope everyone is ok with that!)

The Get Started Bento Challenge

To get into the habit of making bento, and start 2009 off in a great healthy way!

The details

  • The Get Started Bento Challenge will be for five weeks from January 12th to February 15th, with a specific task or challenge to work on every week.
  • Participants will make a goal or a short list of goals they want to work on for themselves, whether it’s just to get into a bento making routine, to use bento for healthier eating or to lose weight, to save money, and so on.
  • We’ll use a Flickr group, and a forum (location of forum to be announced!) to track our progress and share ideas. (I’ve read all of your comments so far and have taken into account all of your suggestions and concerns, and have decided that a combination of a Flickr group and a discussion forum would probably be the best.)

What do I need to participate?

  • The first thing is to be sure you want to do this. Like anything that requires you to make changes to your daily routine, it will require some level of commitment on your part in order to be a success for you. If you are new to Just Bento, you may want to read through the Getting Started series.
  • One basic thing you’ll be asked to do is to take pictures of your bentos. So you should have some way of taking pictures of your bentos (they don’t have to be beautiful, just visible!) and uploading them. I really think visual feedback is one of the best ways to really see what you are doing.
  • You’ll need at least one bento box before the 13th. Remember, your bento box does not have to be an ‘authentic’ Japanese bento box. Read the Selecting the right bento box article (and the linked articles in there). I’ll be posting more about this as needed leading up to the Challenge start.

How do I sign up?

  • Update: The forum is now open! If you haven’t already, please register on the site in order to be able to post to the forum.
  • If you are already a flickr member, please join the Just Bento group. If you’re not yet a flickr member (it’s free!) please join flickr and proceed. If for some reason you cannot use flickr, I can give you some limited tech support if you’re a Mac user. (But really, it’s very easy.) Otherwise, once the forum is up you’ll be able to post photos there that are uploaded to other photo hosting services like Picasa, Photobucket, and so on.

Note: My last blog post of 2008 is over on Just Hungry, which may be of interest if you’re setting goals and resolutions for yourself in the new year. Take a look!

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Picky eater


I thought about contacting you personally, but the page said that I should do it in the comment and I thought, but where could I possible ask the question? Then I came back to this article and I realized, it’s my resolution too.

Thing is though—ever since I was an infant, I rejected every kind of fruits or vegetables and remain so to this day, but I got better (sort of) as I now eat less than 10 kinds of fruits or vegs (like peas and squash). So, I need to figure out a way of what is the best way to ease myself into eating more kinds of fruits and vegetables.

I have a terrible gag reflex when I try to eat some of the new foods (of fruits and vegetables, even to an apple), so, when I saw how I appealed to the visual aspect of the food, like how cook the pepper and salt is on string beans after being sauteed, I was able to eat them without small problem (except for a huge pause before taking that bite).

So, it is kind of overwhelming me to look at this blog, trying to decide where to start incorporating food I’ve never tried like mushrooms, banana, and I loathe the taste of broccoli, onion and cucumbers. And I need to get better about eating foods I can sort of tolerate but don’t have the knowledge/resources like s spinach and lettuce.

I would go far as to pick any vegs off my hamburger, subs, or outright refuse to eat them. It has frustrated my family for over two decades (I’m 22 now). And I really need to start eating the two groups—fruits and vegetables or I could have some serious health issues later in life. I’m even amazed that I’m not overweight at all, so that is not my concern, just want to eat healthy so I can finally have the energy to start training for a triathlon.

So, basically, where the heck do I start? With foods I have never tried and foods I can never tolerate, and ones I can sort of can but won’t eat them if given the chance (or not pressured). I know I can use the search function, but that’s the problem… where? ^^j Thanks in advance.

Eating issues

Hi Tiffy. First off, it’s great that you are trying to change your eating habits! It’s great thing to try to do it while you’re still relatively young.

I am not a medical professional or nutritionist or dietician. I think that you may want to consult a professional in that field. It could just be that you are a ‘supertaster’ who has trouble with very strong tastes like sour, salty, etc - but again, I don’t know you in person and I’m not a medical professional! Also: One of the worst things you can do, in my opinion, is to try to search the internet and try to self-diagnose yourself regarding what could potentially be a serious health issue. So I’d really recommend going to your family doctor and seeing if he/she can recommend a good nutritionist or dietician that you can talk to.

Good luck!

Tiffy, I completely agree


I completely agree with Maki's response. Congratulations on you decision to expand the variety of your diet. I am a speech therapist and sometimes I work with children who are extremely picky eaters, who, like you describe, have only a few foods they can eat and who often gag when trying new foods. The good news is that they often are able to expand the variety of their diet with a little help. I just wanted to add that after you have spoken to your physician, you may want to seek out a therapist with experience treating picky eaters. This might be an occupational therapist, nutrition counselor, speech therapist, social worker or psychologist. I would suggest a program that is sensory based, which gradually introduces new sensations, focusing on small changes (in your case, sensations of taste, texture, tempurature etc).

Good luck!

I'm signing up!

What a great and fun idea! I am signing up. Can’t wait to start!

I’ll be joining, and the

I’ll be joining, and the challenge I pose myself is: Can I make at least 3 bentos every week? No more slacking off and getting takeout!

Although I’m not sure I’m allowed to participate - I’ve been making bentos for quite a while now!


Anyone can join - everyone

Anyone can join - everyone is welcome!

seriously considering...

I want to make sure my son has better lunches than the junk they serve at school. I don’t know if I’ll do all Japanese style. But, if I can add some American (healthy) stuff to bentos - I’m in.


I’ve been waiting for this announcement post and am excited it is here! I do have a question for you. I like very much how you list the calories of each bento you show off here at Just Bento. My question is: When you pack bento lunches for yourself, do you try to keep your bentos within certain calorie count range? Do you try to make sure you don’t go over a certain calorie count? I was just wondering if you had a personal rule of thumb in that respect?

very excited

I’m very excited to try bento. I found this site before Christmas-I knew that for the new year I wanted to have some control in my lunches (I teach and often just eat what ever fried/carb heavy nonsense they’re serving in the cafeteria or tag along with someone who is eating out.) I started packing lunches in December but that consisted of buying a bag of bagels on monday and eating one a day-by the end of the day I was starving and didn’t make the best food choices.

I’m with Avlor though-mine will tend to run more along the lines of an American bento. My other bento challenge is I don’t like my food to touch (so many bento things working against me :)- I’m planning on getting silicone cupcake liners tomorrow but if anyone has any other ideas that would be great.

The silicone cupcake liners

The silicone cupcake liners are a great start. I also have some of those food-safe doilies that you use for fried foods. Those might make good separators, and you can get them in various sizes.

this is exciting. I

this is exciting. I definatly want to follow along. I was wondering how you were going to format this. Maybe we should think of a check list too and the person can check off what they’ve done for the week, etc. I dunno, just suggestions!

Jumping in

Alright…I’m in.:-) Now I just need to find a bento box. I’m quite sure neither Migros nor Coop would have them. I’ll check this Asian food cafe/market off of Bahnhofstrasse. Any other suggestions? And by the way, fabulous site!

I'm in!

This is such a great idea, especially for the new year! ~bounces~ I’ve joined the Flickr group, bought a bento box (proper one and everything - I reckon a nice container rather than my battered old tupperware will make the new bento-ing habit more enjoyable), and await further instructions :D

As an aside, out of sheer curiosity, why would Mac users need tech support for Flickr? As a long time Apple tragic, I don’t remember having any problems with sign up or use… Even the nifty FlickrUploadr has a Mac version.

Signing up!

Hi! I’m just getting back into the habit of making bento so this challenge is perfect for me. I’ll definitely be signing up :)

My new bento box should be arriving from Japan soon and i’m very excited


Oh Goody!

I’ve been doing bentos for my 17 yr old daughter for about 6 months and she loves the surprise each day. She asks that I don’t tell her what she’s getting and I mix it up A LOT especially using recipes from your site. We’ve never had so much asian type food before and we all love it. I’m hoping I can now make a lunch for me too. My priority has been my daughter but I’m going to try and see if I can get 2 a day ready each day. I’m excited!

I found a nice box at the Container Store that we’re going to try (Klip-it Lunch Cube) for those who don’t have traditional bento boxes. I think it’s going to work well and has 3 compartments. I have a couple of traditional bento boxes and will continue to use them as well. This one will just hold some of the “bulkier” foods better I think.

Love your site, love your recipes!

Joining in :D

This sounds like the perfect idea. I’ll add it to my list of resolutions. I have been waiting for that kick in the butt to finally use my adorable dragonfly bento I bought in the summer. T_T But I must gather all my willpower!

Joining in, too!

I’ve found out that bento wasn’t an invention of japanese cartoons about a month ago and have become obsessed by now. I think my goal will be to figure out what exactly I need in the box to keep my strength - my boyfriend and I are both hard-excersizing kick-boxers who go to practice straight after work… I used to nearly faint before the discovery of bento, because I often forgot to eat until the cafeteria was closed down.

Hi Makiko ! I’m in… I

Hi Makiko !

I’m in… I just hope I’ll be able to start at the beginning (because we will be starting our new canadian life since January 12 !).

I never made bento at that time, indeed. But I’d like to use it in order to control my weight -is it possible to lose, then stabilize weight thanks to balanced bento ?).

Can't Wait

I can’t wait for this to start! I’m so excited!

Oh my goodness, I’m so

Oh my goodness, I’m so excited! I always find it helps me loads to have support in any resolution I make. This is going to be great!

Oh Boy Oh boy oh boy!!! I AM SO IN!!!!

I joined flickr last night.

It was really easy, the only trouble I had was finding a buddy icon. Look for me. I should be under Sakurako Hisakata or Sakurako Genko. I think both^.^

Good luck to us all, and feel free to chide me if you don’t see me posting a photo in too long.

When will we get to see the forum? I’ve never been on one. Whats it like?


Hi Sakurako. I’m still working on the forum and will announce it here when it’s open for you all to play in!


Thanks Maki.

And thanks for putting up JustBento. It’s really great!

Get Started Challenge

I’m signing up..this will be my first time making Bentos…is excited

Get Started Challenge

I joined (by the way, as of February flickr won’t be free anymore depending on your internet provider). I already make my daughter bento every day for school but have to beg my son to let me do it for him so goal #1 is to make son “manly” bento everyday. Meaning nothing cute:)
My second goal is to make them for myself daily, since I skip lunch and end up snacking instead. Can’t wait to get started.

I'm in!

I’ll be glad to get into the habit of making bento for lunch.

See everyone over at Flickr, and the forum when it’s up and running…

An Idea

I just thought of something. My main issue with me not usually making bentos is that I don’t usually have ingredients on hand to make things for bento (and dinner at that u.u). I’ve been trying to cut back my grocery bill, and when I do have left overs for dinner, I never find it’s good bento material (since i’m from louisiana, i’ve got a freezer loaded down with red beans and my fridge still has a whole container of gumbo). Good thing is, I almost always have left over rice, but besides all that.

I think it’d be a good idea to maybe get some sort of grocery list made. Mainly lists the basics of the kitchen (for us newbs here) and also basics of Asian/Japanese cuisine for those who want more of an traditional japanese bento.

My other thing, is there are lots of things I want to try, but I have yet to figure out where and even if there is an Asian market in my area (i would think so, there’s such a huge Chinese Buffet/Vietnamese base here) so I don’t have some of those not-normal-in-US-grocery-stores foods. Like dashi. I don’t think I could home make it and I really not sure if i should order it online and I’d love to make things that need dashi for stock, etc.

So perhaps also list alternatives (or suggestions on where to get) to foods that a lot of people might not be able to have access to in their grocery stores.

Just another thought that comes to mind if I really want to start making bentos, and I reaaaalllyyyyy wanna try more Japanese recipes. The ones so far i’ve been able to make have always come out so good, even though I have little knowledge of actually cooking Japanese cuisine.

I first started making

I first started making bentos when I started a new job. Unfortunately I was living in transition and found it difficult to maintain. Now that I am in my new home this seems like the perfect way to start again. What a great idea, I can't wait.


I've been thinking of starting the bento habit since my school's canteen food is pretty unhealthy and waaay overpriced, and I'm glad there's a Get Started Challenge! I don't have a camera at the moment though (just a crappy 2MP one on my cellphone), so I'll just view the photos and participate in the forum.

Re: The Get Started Bento Challenge will start on January ...

I'm in! I started making obento as I went back to uni in September, but I need to be much more disciplined about it & pack lunches more frequently during the week - those days I skip making one I end up eating expensive rubbish, or nothing, which doesn't help me make the most of my days there!

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