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Posted on May 16, 2007 in Bento, Equipment, For Kids, Lactose Free, Poultry, Rice, Tips | 12 comments

Chicken two ways, mini strainer & bowl

Chicken two ways, mini strainer & bowl

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Contents of Bug’s lunch: Butternut squash and zucchini with Korean barbeque sauce, roast chicken, blueberries, cherries, yellow rice (from Daisy Martinez’ Daisy Cooks! Latin American cookbook, her website is here).

Morning prep time: 5 minutes. The yellow rice was leftover from dinner last night, so when I was cleaning up I packed the rice up directly into our lunch containers for the next day. Bug & I went to Costco yesterday, so we bought our requisite roast chicken and chicken salad there — perfect for quick lunches. We’re still working through the veggies leftover from Mother’s Day (cut, but not cooked), so I threw them all into the microwave in a microwave steamer (a covered bowl with a little water works just fine) for a minute and a half, let it stand for a minute, then quick fried it with some store-bought Korean barbeque sauce (yakiniku sauce). This is a common speed technique in Japanese bento books — using pre-made sauces to add quick flavor to fresh veggies or protein dishes.

Packing: I packed this in a 350ml Lock & Lock container, and included a mini pick to make it easy for Bug to eat the veggies. I also included a spoon (not shown) for the rice — he ate the chicken and the berries with his hands.

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After I cooked and sauced the veggies, I put them into a small 15cm strainer set in a bowl and set the bowl in front of an open window to cool for a minute or two. The strainer allows any excess moisture to drip off, and the metal of the bowl and strainer encourage fast cooling. Packing cooled food that’s not wet helps avoid condensation inside the lunch container that could: 1) make it hard for little hands to open the lid, and 2) add to the chance of food spoilage.

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Contents of my lunch: Puerto Rican yellow rice, blueberries, cherries, chicken salad from Costco, and veggies (butternut squash, zucchini, green bell peppers and mushrooms) with Korean barbeque sauce.

Morning prep time: 5 minutes.

Packing: Mine is packed in the two 350ml tiers of the Lock & Lock lunch set, so total of 700ml lunch — just about right for me according to the bento box size guidelines. I was able to stack all three containers (Bug’s & my lunch) inside of Bug’s little insulated lunch bag (Thomas the Tank Engine, a hand-me-down from a friend’s son).

Lunch in a Box is nominated for Best Food Blog in the Blogger’s Choice Awards. If you’d like to cast your vote for speedy lunch packing, click here (you can vote for multiple blogs in the same category).

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12 Comments

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  1. Just a question out of the blue:
    Do you make your lunch the night before or that same morning?

  2. These did comes with built-in dividers — very convenient. I wish Lock & Lock had wider distribution of their lunch sets in the U.S.; they have a very good product for packed lunches.

  3. Usually the same morning, although sometimes (as with this lunch) I’ll pack part of the lunch when I’m cleaning up from dinner. But hey, if you have the energy to pack the entire lunch the night before, more power to you! That would be the fastest morning prep time yet!

  4. The little bento looks so good! Honestly your blog makes me reaaally want to start packing bentos for my lunch. But where to start! :)

  5. Don’t be intimidated!!! Jump right in wherever you’re comfortable. Hey, basically it’s just lunch in glorified Tupperware — you can make it as simple/fast or as complicated/time-consuming as you feel like. There’s no right answer, just start packing, noisemachine!

  6. I love this lunch! Apart from fish, chicken is definitely my fave kind of meat. And that Korean bbq-sauce sounds so interesting! Really delicious-sounding.

  7. I usually prep in the morning as well
    sometimes I wonder if it isn’t better to do it the night before
    If it’s something that takes more than 20 minutes to pack I usually do it the night before
    I guess we aren’t so different afterall

  8. Thanks for tagging things with Lactose Free =)
    I am (majorly) lactose intolerant and my housemate is gluten intolerant so we always try to think of new, interesting meals that take into account all of the food allergies.

  9. Thanks amvn! We always wind up with lots of chicken after a Costco run.

  10. You’re welcome! My husband was (mis)diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten disease) at the end of 2004, so we ate gluten-free for nine months in 2005 (until he was “undiagnosed”). That’s actually what really got me into making bentos (see my profile). So I feel ya on the lactose and gluten fronts! Packing your own lunch is almost a necessity for a lot of people with special food needs.

  11. gorgeous! and hello! :)

    tell me please; when you pack rice the night before, isn’t it kind of hard and gritty the next day? or do you keep it out of refrigeration to avoid that? or do you steam it a little in the morning to soften it back up? or….?

  12. Hi Melanie. A quick spin in the microwave (about 30 seconds in a 1100W microwave) in the morning softens the rice up. I don’t tend to have the texture issue with fried rice, and the yellow rice was initially fried in achiote oil — so less of an issue than with plain rice.