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Posted on Apr 25, 2007 in Beans, Bento, Equipment, For Kids, Leftover Remake, Meat, Pasta or Noodles, Recipe, Tips | 20 comments

Peas and egg scramble lunches

Peas and egg scramble lunches

Morning prep time: 8 minutes. Last night we had yakisoba (Japanese fried noodles with meat and veggies), so after dinner I pre-packed our boxes with the leftover noodles. This morning all I had to do was slice some fruit, and make a quick egg scramble with frozen peas to round out our lunches. Here’s Bug’s lunch, with the orange slices cut next to the rind to make it easy for little hands to eat.

Yakisoba lunch for toddler

Because the finished dish is going to sit at room temperature until lunch, Japanese bento cookbooks advise stirring the eggs with chopsticks like this until they’re broken up and thoroughly heated through for optimum food safety. This presents some packing complications, however. If you pack this loose egg dish with other food in a non-divided container where the lid doesn’t touch the food, the eggs/peas will roll all over everything else. My divided Lock & Lock container (below) was perfect for this, but I wound up needing to put a little “surprise animal cap” over Bug’s eggs after I took the photo. Wrapping the smaller sub-container in plastic wrap would provide the same stabilizing effect, just not as much fun.

Another tip I picked up from a Japanese bento cookbook was to use little individual servings of coffee creamer (or half & half) when making a small amount of eggs for a packed lunch. It gives a nicer flavor to the eggs than plain milk, but I don’t usually have cream or half & half in the house. It seems like a waste to buy a large container of cream just for a few eggs, so I pocketed a couple of these from a restaurant where they came with my coffee.

Peas and egg scramble for packed lunch Creamer for eggs

My lunch is the same, with a couple of strawberries. In a minor Leftover Remake, the fried noodles also incorporate Moroccan grilled lamb from dinner the other night, as well as bacon, zucchini, carrots, cabbage, onion, red bell pepper, green onions and beni shoga (pickled red ginger). Packed in a 350ml container, this was too small for me according to the bento box size guidelines, but I packed light as I knew we’d be shopping at Costco after lunch, where Bug and I snack on samples.

Yakisoba lunch

Quick speed equipment note: a nonstick mini fry pan and mini spatula are very convenient for cooking small amounts of lunch food (saves on cleanup too). Years ago I received a little 8″ frying pan in a cookware set as a wedding present, but I’ve started looking at it in a new light since working through a Japanese cookbook about making your child’s entire bento in just one mini frying pan (“Mini Fry Pan Hitotsu de Mainichi Tsukaeru Enji no Obento“, full review in my write-up of children’s bento books). Very handy.

Mini frying pan & mini spatula

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  1. I use my 8″ pan all the time for single servings, like when I make eggs just for me, or Im frying up a bit of meat. it’s perfect for one hamburger or one piece of chicken.
    when you said “mini” I thought you meant this crazy one I bought for a friend one time at bed bath and beyond, it’s like four inches and fits, like, one sunnyside egg.

  2. Hullo! I’ve friended this journal and just want to say how I’ve enjoyed reading the posts, getting quite a few ideas. Now, I’m hankering after a bento box.

  3. Ha ha, I have that silly tiny pan and hate it because the handle gets super-hot. I’ve since given it to Bug to play with as a toy (perfect size to ‘cook’ his plastic toy food).

  4. I didn’t previously use it that much as I usually cook for three or more, but it really is perfect for bentos.

  5. Aren’t they great?

  6. Biggie, another colorful lunch box. I am not one for those half & half tubs either – so your tip about pocketing them in restaurants is pretty neat.

  7. I have a baby frying pan too and I love it. It’s great for deep frying stuff since I use less oil to get the depth needed for deep frying.

    Btw, I love your idea about using individual cream containers for scrambled eggs. I buy these for my work coffee but it never occurred to me to use it for cooking. I wonder if powdered non-dairy creamer could also work if reconstituted with water? Anybody tried it?

  8. Thanks nin! Enjoy your lunch-packing, no matter what container you use!

  9. The best of luck to you in getting votes! :3

    Also, I was wondering.. you always seem to be mentioning fantastic ideas that you’ve seen in bento cookbooks. Where on earth can I get a hold of these cookbooks?! Thanks! :3

  10. Thank you!

  11. As always, a great looking couple of bentos done in incredibly short time! I admire them so much.

    I’ve only once used scrambled eggs and I left that one overnight in the fridge. Kid didn’t complain so I guess it was ok the next day :)

    She has her bento in an insulated bag with several “snow packs” to keep it cool btw.

  12. I also have a tiny little deep pot for frying small amounts of food, but it’s a little too dinged up for a nice photo. Haven’t tried the reconstituted powdered creamer — maybe someone else will chime in!

  13. Any Japanese-language bookstore near you (Kinokuniya, etc.) would have them, and then there’s always Amazon.co.jp.

  14. Funny you should mention Glad Press’n Seal — I used some just this morning to rein in a little container of blueberries in Bug’s bento! I guess it’s the week of rolling, spillable food in our house…

  15. Thanks trekkiegrrrl! Sounds like a great, safe way to transport perishable food — I know we don’t want to take risks with our kids’ health (mine is another matter, though!).

  16. Do you reheat the meals you make, or do you eat them cold?

  17. Bug and I are usually outside when we eat (at parks/playgrounds, playgroup, zoo, etc.), so we eat them cold unless it’s a meal I’ve packed in a thermos or a thermal lunch jar.

  18. The “no room temperature food” thing sounds very Chinese! :-) They like hot food hot too. Have you tried packing your rice in a little food jar, and your other food in a smaller bento? I did it that way a few times and really liked it (click photo for details):
    Shrimp and snow peas lunch

  19. Yes I’ve considered getting one of the insulated bentothings. Problem (in this case) is that I usually make the rice in advance. Generally I cook rice for like 2-3 days at a time, and then I can just heat it before eating it, in a microwave. And luckily kid doesn’t seem to mind cold rice :) (though she prefers them hot, too. It’s just not possible for her to heat them as there’s no microwave at school)

    Hmm.. I guess I COULD time the rice cooker to make fresh rice in the mornings, at least once in a while. And then one of those bentos would be great. I’ll ponder that a bit. And look at eBay for a solution that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg :o)

  20. Ooh, but you can still do it your way without spending much money!!! Just nuke the leftover refrigerated rice in a microwave-safe container, then plunk it into a preheated food jar.

    The thermos thing pictured above isn’t a fancy bento thing, it’s just a regular food jar that you can get for about $15 (see link below). Walmart and Target definitely sell them in the kids’ lunch section. Target also has a cool-looking blue one with rubberized top & bottom — check out my (early stage) Amazon aStore here for some options (first page in the “Lunch Containers” section). Or a lot of different food jars here (the all-plastic ones tend to have bad reviews for heat retention, though).