Bento no. 77: 3-part stash and leftovers bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 490 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5 to 10 minutes to pack in the morning

Type: Not really Japanese, made from stash and leftovers

There isn't much new in terms of technique in this bento, but I just wanted to show it as an example of a really easy made-ahead, just pack-and-go bento. The rice and vegetable stir fry are leftovers from dinner, and the meatballs with lettuce in tomato sauce are from the freezer. I put the frozen packet of meatballs in the refrigerator the night before; by the morning it had started to defrost, and by lunchtime it was totally defrosted and ready to eat. If you have access to a microwave you could heat up one, two or all of the containers.

I am not sure if it's immediately noticeable from the photo angle, but I used the smallest box of a 3-part nesting bento box set for the rice. Normally the rice would go into the largest box, but as I'm cutting back on my carb intake these days, I switched it around. The largest box has plenty of vegetable stir fry, which was quite filling. Incidentally, since the meatballs in tomato sauce were quite strongly flavored, I barely salted the stir fry at all, so that it with the rice could act as a 'bland' foil for the sauce.

White bean pods?

The things in the stir fry with the zucchini slices were being sold at a local Chinese grocery store as "white bean pods". They were like puffy white young fava bean pods, with no beans inside, and tender stem ends. They were rather bitter raw, but very pretty. They did lose their color when I blanched them though, but the bitterness dissipated a bit and were a nice match with the zucchini. If anyone knows their proper name, let me know! (I'm afraid I forgot to take a photo of them before they were cooked...)

The bento box I used

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This is a three-part nesting box set that I bought at Tokyo Disneysea. This type of nesting box is called ireko in Japanese. If you're the type that really doesn't like different foods to be touching, this kind of multi-part bento box is ideal for you. It can be just a bit tricky to carry 3 boxes along in a backpack, but the journey home is easy since the two smaller boxes can be stored inside the largest one. I have a few of these nested box sets in various sizes, and they are all in my regular rotation. Besides using them all at once, I often use the smaller boxes as side boxes or inside other bento boxes for leaky items, since the lids are quite tight fitting. (The Mickey Mouse glove chopsticks are also from Tokyo Disney - bigger photo here.)