Here's to a great bento year! Open thread for your questions and comments about bentos
Happy New Year everyone!
The start of a brand new year is the time for resolutions of course, and many of you reading this may have made bentos part of your plans for 2013. If you're new to bentos, going through the hundreds of articles on this site might be a bit intimidating. So, if you have any questions or comments about bento-ing - anything at all - this is an open thread post for you to pose them.
What are Japanese plastic bento boxes made of? Are they BPA-free?
[I've substantially updated this article recently to answer some emailed questions about bento accessories and so on, so here it is again for your reading pleasure. Originally posted in August 2008.]
I recently got an email from a Just Bento reader concerning the plastic used to make bento boxes. She was concerned, since she couldn't read the Japanese writing on the packaging. I'm sure a lot of other readers have similar concerns, especially given recent scares reported in the media about plastic containers leaching chemicals into food and beverages. Keeping in mind that I am not a scientist or expert, just a concerned consumer just like you, here's what I've been able to find out by doing some research on various Japanese as well as English-language web sites.
Keeping your bento lunch safe (Reviewing bento basics)
Note: This bento safety article is one of the first ones I posted here on Just Bento, back in November 2007. I've edited it and added some more information, especially since more and more new people are coming to the site. Even if you're a veteran bento maker, it's good to go over the basics occasionally!
A traditional portable bento box meal is meant to be eaten eaten at room temperature. It's typically made in the morning, then held for a few hours until lunchtime, also at room temperature. Millions and millions of Japanese people eat bentos like this (as well as an increasing number of people all around the world). There are some basic, time-tested precautions to take to ensure that your bento box meals will be tasty and safe when you tuck into them.
The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with Weekend Page 2
[Update:] Now with a second page for the weekend plus expanded shopping list! See below.
Last year I introduced the Weekly Bento Planner, a simple form to plan your bento lunches. It's been very popular, and both files have been downloaded thousands of times.
One comment I got several times was that the form was fine for mapping out the week's bento plans, but what if you wanted to plan all of your meals for the week too? To address this need, after a lot of thinking and testing - and just in time for the Bento Challenge! - I present you the Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch form.
I have written quite exhaustively about onigiri, or rice balls, here on Just Bento as well as on Just Hungry. Many people have asked similar questions about onigiri, which seem to just be gaining and gaining in popularity these days.
So I've assembled a list of Onigiri FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). I'll update this list when I see (or remember) other questions periodically. Hopefully your questions are answered here - if not, you know what to do! (ask in the comments!)
The Weekly Bento Planner is a simple one-page form that I use to plan out my week, bento-wise. I don't really bother to plan out my other meals, but since time is at such a premium in the morning when I'm assembling bentos, I spend a few minutes on the weekend writing out what I intend to make for bentos during the upcoming week.