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Today is my 3rd Bento post and several readers had asked me on previous posts how I make bento for my son in the morning with such a short time. Do I cook each dish in the morning? No, I don’t – but I do re-heat the dishes and occasionally cook one fresh dish, but usually an easy one. My bento making ends up only taking about 15-20 minutes every morning. Today I’ll share Bento Freezing Technique and show how to save time in the morning for packing bentos.
Recently I updated my old Chicken Nanban post with new pictures. I cook this dish pretty often because it’s easy and my family likes it. The updated photos had skewers attached to the dish so they look like an appetizer dish. Typically I just plate the chicken, two kinds of bell peppers, and eggplant in order and sprinkle Shiso leaves (Perilla) on top. The flavor of deep fried chicken with a sweet and sour sauce is so addicting!
When I make dishes for dinner, I put aside enough food to pack for bento before serving to my family. For today’s recipe, I packed 1 serving of cooled Chicken Nanban in small container and froze it. I buy these small freezer containers at Japanese $1 store (Daiso) but you can use small Ziploc containers for the same purpose. Sometimes if my son like the dish I will pack 2 servings so he can enjoy the same dish 2 weeks in a roll.
And what else do I pack? You will see broccoli and tomatoes in my bento box quite often. Those are some veggies that my son enjoys eating so I always put them. You can blanch (or use microwave to cook) broccoli every time, or you can do it all at once and freeze them. And the same goes to Tamagoyaki (Japanese Rolled Omelette). If you want to save some time in the morning, then please visit Basic Freezing Techniques for more info.
I cannot stress enough that making bento is not so hard if you have leftover and some frozen bento ingredients.
One more thing. When you look at today’s bento consisting of plain white rice with an umeboshi (Japanese salty pickled plum) in the center, does it look familiar to you? This particular bento is called Hinomaru bento (日の丸弁当). This name was taken from the Hinomaru, the Japanese flag. It’s a little tibid for today’s bento. Let’s start today’s bento now!
Previous Dinner was:
Lunch Next Day:
- Chicken Nanban Bento
- A medium size box of fruits: oranges and yellow peaches.
- Water bottle
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- Fill up half of bento box with Japanese rice. Let it cool so that hot/warm rice will not warm up other cool food.*
- Pan fry leftover Chicken Nanban or bake in a toaster oven until it's warm.
- Heat butter in a frying pan and saute mixed vegetables until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Put it in a bento silicone cup.
- Wash tomatoes and pat dry. Place nicely in the bento box along with broccoli.
- Pack Tamagoyaki and cooled Chicken Nanban.
- Put Umeboshi on top of slightly cooled rice.
- Cool down completely before closing the bento box.
Broccoli: How to freeze food for Bento, click here.
* Cook broccoli florets in microwave: Put 1-2 broccoli florets in a small microwave-safe bowl/container. Fill with water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for a minute or so until it's a little bit soft (or you can blanch it as well). Drain well and let it cool.
[Please read FOOD SAFETY TIPS .]
If you are using a thermal bento box like Thermos, you do not need to cool down before closing lunch box.
This lunch is for my 6-year-old son.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.