Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

2010 was pretty event-filled for me. I went to Japan twice, after many years away, for a total of nearly 5 months, re-acquainting myself with my roots. Both my parents went through serious illnesses and operations. I moved into a new (old) house in a French village, then promptly got a serious infection and was hospitalized for weeks. And last but certainly not least, I finished a little book that so far has been way more popular than anyone anticipated.

2011 is the Year of the Hare or Rabbit (usagi) according to what’s commonly called the Chinese Zodiac in the west (in Japan, the 12 animals symbolizing the years are called eto 干支). That will make me a toshi onna, or woman who was born during the year of the bunny. (If you’ll be 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, etc. next year, you too will be a toshi onna during the Bunny Year, or a toshi otoko if you’re a guy. And of course, babies born next year will be Bunny Year Babies.) Being a toshi onna (or otoko) is not necessarily considered to be all good; you may have good luck, but you may be in danger of running into bad luck too. Either way, if I am to believe such things, it may turn out to be an even more interesting year than 2010.

I know that we can make resolutions at any time of the year, but New Years Day is really the perfect time to shake off the past and make a promise to oneself to start something new, or continue a good thing. I’d certainly like to shake off the bad things about 2010, and arm myself with some good intentions and plans for 2011.

Bento-wise, I’m interested a accomplishing number of things: exploring some traditional Japanese foods more deeply, researching the world of ekiben further, using bentos as a continuing tool towards keeping my blood sugar in check (it’s working well so far in that respect, barring some lapses such as extended mochi testing sessions) and improving my decorative food cutting skills. But above all, I want to continue spreading the word of bento around the world, and introducing people to the fun and versatility of the portable meal in a box.

So, how about you? Do you have any bento-related resolutions for 2011? Share them with the world right here!

A hidden bonus giveaway

One of the people who share their bento related resolution in the comments here will get one precious advanced copy of the 2nd printing of The Just Bento Cookbook, signed of course. The book is sold out on Amazon.com right now, and getting scarce in other places until they can receive new shipments, so if you didn’t get one in your Christmas stocking, now’s your chance. Your resolution/comment must be posted here (and it must be a comment, not an email reply if you’re reading this by email) by the end of 2010 - that is, until 11:59:59pm of December 31st CET (Central European Time). Good luck, and let’s ring out the old year with a bang!

(Comments are now closed. The winner of the book will be announced soon! Happy New Year!)

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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My bento resolution

I just discovered this blog via WSJ. I've been making boxed lunches for myself during the workweek for almost two years now, but I'm always making the same old stuff. I'm excited to explore other ideas, and so I'd love to win your book. But if not, I already subscribe to this blog via RSS. :)

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

Oops, I forgot to write that my bento resolution is to figure out new ideas for lunch. Just in case my implication was not immediately understood by my earlier post. ;)

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My friend sent me a link to your site yesterday, and I was so excited that I attempted my first bento type lunch this morning! While I'm sure it was not quite up to bento quality, I was really excited to have my lunch at work today. My resolution for 2011 is to learn more about bentos and incorporate them into my weekly routine for work to make lunch more interesting, healthy, and have better portion control.

I'm looking forward to visiting the site often and picking out a bento box of my very own!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is to make space in the freezer and to make a corner for bento friendly items, I also want to make more bentos and share more recipes.
Happy new year Maki ! Happy new year to all !

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento resolution for 2011 is to buy a really elegant wood bento (maybe take or magewappa).

Then I will make a fresh and healthy bento to eat outside picnic-style with my boyfriend.

(;^_^)

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I would say my bento resolution for the coming year would be to make bentos much more often, and to keep it healthy and delicious, as it should be! I'll be working towards that, no doubt <3

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My Bento resolution is to stop just looking at pretty pictures of bentos all the time and to start actually making them. My 13 year old son is very interested in me making him Bentos for lunch. I bought him a container set to use for Bentos with that in mind.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

To just start! I need some variety, either I make sandwiches or grab pizza from the cafeteria.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento resolution is to start making bentos! :) I just purchased all the gear, and as a co-resolution of trying to portion my food size and loose some weight in the process! Also this will hopefully allow me to save some money or spend less money on food ;)
I totally looove your site!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento resolution for 2011 is to make time to prepare bentos every day so that I ea less of the horrible cafeteria food and eat more fresh and healthy stuff and hopefully loose some kilos in the process. My hectic lifestyle of being a single mum, full-time student and part-time worker means I am very hectic, stressed and don't get to cook myself as much as I would like too. So I hope I can bring some quality and enjoyment back into my eating while finding rather quick ways of prepareing the bento.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

Hey Maki-chan (I feel like I know you from and your other blogs :))

I've just moved house and my bentos from my time in Japan turned up again. I've not used them since I was in Japan, and that is such a shame. I went looking to buy your book on Book Depository, but it's sold out. I'd love a bento book to start the new year right and get using my bentos regularly for taking my lunch to work.

Amanda
xxx

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

Since I already bring bentos to work 4 or 5 days a week, my resolution is to start bringing *healthy* bentos that have some form of portion control for at least 2-3 days. :)

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento resolution is to experiment more with different types of food. I was a vegetarian for fourteen years and recently started eating poultry and fish again, and it's been a challenge starting to include meat in bentos.

My non-bento resolution is to try practicing a little self-kindness, and not be so hard on myself for everything I mess up on.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is twofold: to make more bento lunches (even if they're dinner leftovers or primarily Westernized) for myself and to use those lunches to expand my roommate's lunchtime palate. He thinks bento are too cutesy, and I want to be able to prove to him that they don't have to be!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011

This year I want to bring my lunch waaaay more so Im going trying to make myself a bento at least 3 times a week. I also want to stock up on more bento accessories and more boxes.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I would like to maintain a better bento food stash, so that I can make my bentos more easily.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I'd really like to get into the habit of being able to plan out my bento lunches for a week! It'll help me budget and keep me from buying food while at work :)

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is to really knuckle down and use bento as a tool for weight loss I have got the boxes and some accessories which now sit in the cupboard. So far in combination with the just hungry web site I have lost 10 kgs and hope to lose another 10 more since the hubby really likes bentos and is know asking for them quiter regulary. I have gotten lazy and stopped making them and spending too much money on take out. In the new year I will get my johbisai stash built up again and aim to have bento 4 times a week with more fresh fruit & veg and save money! Thanks for the awesome recipes maki!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento related resolution is to actually make a real bento. Although I have packed my lunch in a bento like way before, it was always very quickly thrown together and looked pretty bad, so I never considered it a real bento. So this year instead of drooling over all the beautiful bentos online I want to make one of my own. Also, this isn't exactly bento related, but I want to learn to make at least one Japanese dish.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is to make more creative bentos for myself and learn how to pack bentos for my husband that he can take with him during extended work weeks away from home. This way he has ready to eat, healthy, and fun food at his fingertips!
Thanks for the year in bentos that I have already had....I look forward to another year in bento!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I'm already bentoing pretty regularly, so my bento resolution is to incorporate some healthy snacks, since I always get derailed with the junk food around the office. :-)

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution will be to get back into the habit of bento as soon as I return home to Canada. My job in England is at a pub where I get my meals made by a chef for free, so it is hard to justify bringing my own food.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My goal is to try new things in my kids bentos this year. I figure, a small amount of something new, once a week, will let them try it, but if they don't like it, they aren't losing out on half their lunch. I want to try and use more left overs as well.

I also want to start making my husband a breakfast bento in the mornings so he has something to nibble on during the drive to work. He works in a restaurant, but somehow never manages to find 5 minutes in the day to have something to eat.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento resolution is to bring my own nutritious bento lunch with me to class everyday to avoid wasting money on unhealthy and not as tasty foods at the nearby cafe.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento resolution is to always make the time for Bento instead of getting ;azy and throwing together a PB&J. I always enjoy my Bento lunches more!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

Forgive me if this double posts but my screen froze...... my bento resolution is to always take the few extra minutes to make a bento lunch instead of just throwing together a PB&J. I always enjoy my bento lunches more!!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

In 2011, I hope to make my lunches (which I always use my bento gear for) more balanced for my pre-diabetic needs, as well as being "pretty" enough that I look forward to eating my lunch every day instead of eating out. Your recipes have been very helpful so far, and I look forward to trying more of them in the coming year.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My 2011 bento resolution is to hopefully finally master making sticky rice! I'm not going to bother making bento boxes or sushi until I can master making sticky rice.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is to start making bentos to bring to school on my crazy class-filled Mondays and Wednesdays.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

Two bento resolutions:
1. Bring bento to work at least three times a week
2. Start making kyaraben

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is to start making some bentos! I bought some cutters for veggies and cheese and I have some containers. Now I just have to start using them all.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I want to make a freezer stash for my bentos to make the mornings easier. I also got another bento for my daughter for kindergarten so that she can do better with portion control (hopefully) than her mama has done to this point.

Happy 2011 everyone!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is kind of complicated. I have many thing that i would like to change about my health and my eating habits. This year I have had 2 friends nearly die due to heart disease and diabetes. My mother became diabetic this last year and I have put on 30 pounds due to a diet that is convenient but unhealthy. First is to make the the decision to take my lunch to work everyday, with a Japanese style bento being taken 2x a week. Second, I will loose that 30 pounds through diet and exercise. Third, I will eat all 3 daily meals from my kitchen at least 5 days a week (I eat dinner with friends and family at least once a week) I hope to learn new ways of cooking and planning my meals that will allow me to do this during my company's busy season.

Thanks for the hard work and resources to help

Mike

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento resolution is to learn how to make more bento-style foods! I especially love Japanese, but I'm trying to save $$. Learning how to make some of the recipes on your site has been a lot of fun, and I want to expand my recipe book. I'm making namasu for the New Year!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My obento resolution for the new year is to work on taking less time to craft my lunches while not sacrificing appearance!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I am just now discovering bento, as something more than an artform to admire from a distance. I'm making 2011 the year that I start making my own bento, and if I win the book that will be a major help!

Bento-ing my way to a healthier, happier me :3

I've always been a little over weight my entire life, but I've recently gained a lot more weight since starting college. My problem is, I've always loved eating food, and lots of it. I've tried other diets before, but they normally failed within a couple weeks. That's when a friend told me about bentos. Forcing portion control, while allowing me to eat a variety of foods each meal, and (most importantly) forces me to pay attention to what I'm eating sounds like exactly what I need. The fact that even the 'plain' bentos still end up looking adorable doesn't hurt, either XD
I found Just Bento by searching google, and I adore your site, Maki! I've already gone through and bookmarked every recipe in the 300-400 calorie range, and I'm waiting for Amazon to restock so I can get your new book, so I can use all the recipes in there too!

So, my resolution is to be (for the first time in my life), be an average, healthy weight by my 21st birthday--Dec 2011--by having at least one bento a day and exercising. I can't wait <3

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is to prepare food to eat rather than purchasing pre-made food so often... so much to choose from!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

my bento resolution is to set aside more time to pack healthy lunches. i'd like to prep stuff on the weekends for weekday lunches. XD

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is to bring bentos to school and work at least three times a week. I had my first child in February, and making bentos has made me eat healthier, thus helping out with the dreaded baby weight. ;)

I started making bentos because of you, Maki, so thank you. I wish you the very best in the coming year!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

Huh, I was told by my local cookbook store that your book wouldn't be available in Canada until the new year, but I see that it's available on amazon.ca already...

I have a few bento-related resolutions for 2011. I want to include more fish and legumes in my meals. I'd also like to start frequenting my local farmer's market more and planning my meals around seasonal local produce, even during the frigid winter. Last but not least, I want to get better at the less greasy Japanese cooking methods such as nibitashi and nimono.

And what a coincidence, I'm a usagi-doshi too, Maki-san!

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I hope to create more man friendly bentos this coming year for my husband.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

Since I was lucky enough to receive the cookbook as a Christmas gift from my children (they take hints well) my bento resolution is to make at least one recipe a week from it. My kids and husband take a bento everyday but we are all looking forward to trying all of the recipes. This is probably, hands down, one of the best cookbooks I have ever read. I love that you give other variations on at least one item from each bento. There doesn't seem to be any recipes that I'm not looking forward to at least trying.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was pretty good at bringing packed lunches to work in 2010 but then we had a major earthquake and my terrible eating habits returned. My goal for 2011 is to make one really great bento a week and to make the most of seanabl available vegetables.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My resolution is to make bentos for myself, husband and son weekly and then more often as I get better and build up my bento stash!
Kyla

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

I have just started bringing bento to school last quarter and I plan to do that again in the new quarter but make it more interesting in the future. I have always packed my food without thinking how it look like but I plan to try to make it look nicer and neater for the new quarter! :) perhaps, I should make it more colorful by choosing different types of side dishes with different colors to make it prettier. ^_^

maybe buy a bento box for him too

I've kind of fallen off the bandwagon with regard to my son's lunches; in 2011, I want to make more of his lunches bentos in the hopes that if I keep serving him healthy food, he'll eventually eat it. I hope.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My bento resolution is to be more creative with bento this year. I had some that I think were pretty special last year but I want every lunch I send with my son to be awesome! I also want to get back into making bento for myself. I focus so much on his that I end up just tossing containers of leftovers into a grocery sack as I run out the door.

So 2011 will send me back to my more ambitious bentoing!! (I hope!)

I also just want to add that bento has made me realize just how much I was eating before! Talk about a weight loss tool! Just seeing that I was taking 2 double decker containers for a meal made me feel like "whoa." IT was like a very visual food journal. Now I can definitely work a lunch into 1 box and a piece of fruit.

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

My 2011 bento resolution is to make more healthy bentos for lunch for the spring and fall semesters :)

Re: Make a bento resolution for 2011 (with year-end bonus)

Your blog is inspirational, maki-san.

I would like to make a habit of making bentos so I can observe what I'm actually taking in my daily diet. I would also like to get my youngest brother (who will be living with me) into the habit of eating healthy food and food preparation.

Saying that, I'd be grateful if you could suggest some bento ideas and menus that would appeal to teenage boys (for them to eat and easy enough that they wouldn't get intimidated to prepare); because I also would love it if preparing bento could be a bonding experience as well.

We're also muslims so, there'll be a lot of substitutions in terms of ingredients we use (alcohol-base seasonings, pork etc.).