Time required: 5-10 minutes

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 400 (how calories are calculated)

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Bento contents:

  • Approx. 1 cup of white rice, 200 cal, with a little furikake on top
  • Stewed chicken dumplings and carrot using about 90g of dark skinless chicken meat, 120 cal
  • Blanched green beans, 30 cal
  • 2 cherry tomatoes, 5 cal (if that)

Total calories (approx): 355 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5-10 minutes in the morning, just to pack everything in the bento box

Type: Japanese, chicken!

Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

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Although I use chicken quite a lot in my bentos, I realized that I have very few bento-appropriate chicken recipes up here on Just Bento, or even over on Just Hungry. I am going to rectify this situation over the next few days, so if you are a chicken fan, stay tuned!

The first chicken recipe is one I have made for years and years - tender, lemony white meat nuggets that are infused with lemon. They very quick to make, good hot or cold, and versatile. They are pan fried, not deep-fried, so they are not crispy on the outside, but are delicious nevertheless. You can use them in a rice based bento, with noodles, or as a sandwich filling. They can be eaten as-is with a cocktail stick or the fingers too.

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 360 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5-10 minutes in the morning Type: Japanese, vegan

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Bento contents:

Stir-fried noodles consisting of:

Total calories (approx): 245 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning (can also be made ahead)

Type: Spicy Asian, vegan

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 390 (how calories are calculated)

Type: Japanese, noodles

Two quickies with shrimp: Easy chili shrimp; shrimp,onion and furikake fritters

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Two recipes using frozen shrimp that can be made in a few minutes.

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Bento filler: Cherry tomato and leftover vegetable gratin cup

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This vegetable gratin in a cup is a great way to use up leftover vegetables in a tasty way. It only takes a few minutes to assemble too. The only thing you should have are the cherry tomatoes, which make their own sauce in a way. Otherwise you can use any cooked or frozen vegetables you have on hand. Here I've used some leftover zucchini and frozen carrot and peas. You could use the ever popular sweet pepper and onion confit too.

The 'sauce' used is mayonnaise. Cooking with mayonnaise may seem a bit odd, but it works very well. It's a very popular all-around sauce in Japanese home cooking. Cooked mayonnaise sauce tastes very nice when cold, making it very suited to bento dishes. I have used a 'light' mayonnaise here to halve the calories (50 calories per tablespoon, instead of about 100 for regular mayo), and added a little pesto from a jar to make it even tastier. I seem to always have jars of sauces spreads and pestos and so on around in the fridge - if you do too, try experimenting with them!

You do need a toaster oven to cook them up fast, but for serious bento makers this is a really handy piece of kitchen equipment to have (see essential bento making supplies).

This is a lacto-ovo-vegetarian recipe. To turn this into a vegan one use a non-egg mayonnaise substitute and omit the cheese. You can up the nutrients by adding chopped up leftover meat, more cheese, and so on.

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