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Posted on Sep 8, 2007 in Bento, Eggs, Equipment, Fish or Seafood, For Kids, Poultry, Rice, Salad | 36 comments

Silicone baking cups & salmon box lunches

Silicone baking cups & salmon box lunches

Silicone cupcake liners work well as removable food cups in packed lunches, separating foods to keep different textures and flavors from mingling. Because the cups are made of silicone, they’re flexible and fit into odd spaces, with the added benefit of being reusable. They come in all sorts of fun shapes, sizes and colors to fit a variety of food and containers (click for a representative sample of silicone baking cups ). Housewares, kitchen, and crafts stores such as Michael’s often sell them — if you find a coupon you can bring down the initial cost as well as save on the cost of disposable paper cups down the line. I finally found the large ones for a good price at Bed Bath & Beyond and used a 20% off coupon. Hooray, I’m finally a little greener!

 

Salmon & salad lunch

Contents of husband’s lunch: Slow-cooked salmon (simple recipe here) with a container of sweet-hot Nonya sambal sauce, chicken fried rice, blueberries, and salad with mango, strawberry tree fruit (a.k.a. arbutus berries) and poppy seed dressing.

Morning prep time: 7 minutes, using leftover salmon, fried rice (from San Francisco’s popular Ton Kiang restaurant), torn lettuce, and a pre-filled sauce container with salad dressing to save time. In the morning I just cut the mango and arbutus berries, briefly microwaved the fried rice to restore the texture, and packed everything together.

Silicone cupcake liners

Packing: The silicone baking cup kept the fried rice away from the salad and blueberries, and was tough enough to stand up to salad dressing once the salad was dressed (more durable than a paper cupcake liner). There are two layers of salmon, one on top of the other. Packed in a 650ml Leaflet box with movable divider (similar to the 500ml version below), and both sauces in small containers.

Equipment: The standard-size silicon baking cups (Wilton brand) were 12 for US$6 at Bed Bath & Beyond (use their omnipresent 20% off coupon and it gets even more reasonable). I got the four pastel mini cups as a set for US$1.50 at Daiso in Daly City (Japanese dollar store with branches internationally).
Salmon & fried rice lunch

Contents of my lunch: Same as my husband’s, but with pesto sauce instead of sambal, and no salad.

Morning prep time: 5 minutes.

Packing: A little Clickety Clack sauce container holds the pesto sauce, and the lunch is packed in a 500ml Leaflet box with movable divider.
Chicken & fried rice lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler lunch: Roast chicken drumstick, chicken breast, strawberry tree fruit, mango, blueberries, and fried rice. I wrapped the end of the drumstick in decorative aluminum foil to create a clean “handle” (similar lunch and foil details are here).

Morning prep time: 5 minutes.

Packing: I included a small Anpanman pick for the chicken breast and mangos, and packed a spoon on the side for the rice. The silicone cup squished nicely into the available space to hold the fruit without touching the chicken. Packed in two tiers (280ml and 180ml) of a four-tier nesting Thomas the Tank Engine bento box set.

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  1. My mom just got some because I was telling her about them and she let me take some home (to NYC) with me. I can’t wait to use them! My bento collection (tools and boxes) is growing! I’m so excited! Keep up the great work! (Sorry for all of the exclamation marks)

  2. @1 from Alison: Don’t worry! Thanks for reading! Keep bentoing! ;-)

  3. I was just in costco today and looking at the salmon wondering what I could do with it other then fry or poach. I like the slow method, it makes it more versatile afterwards. Any ideas for Tilapia?

    I love your bentos, they are wonderful and my husband just the other day was not really complaining about his lunch, but just mentioned he was getting tired of the soup bowls and chef boy are dee stuff. I feel so bad about that, especially after looking at your wonderful site and part ofm e is thinking, that’s easy, i can do that! and part of me is..where and how do I begin? So…how do I begin?

    I don’t have nay bentos yet, but I have a nice collection of the lock and locks. The small rectangle ones. I was thinking of trying a three tired lock and lock because my husbands lunchbox right now stands up and opens from the top. (next payday however, I’m ordering a Mr Bento and some other interesting ones are going on my Christmas list!).

    I loved your rice bombs and I can easily do that…being Korean, I have plenty of rice and seaweed. Do you cook the rice the same morning that you make them or do you cook it the night before and reheat?

    Thanks
    Kim

  4. What a great find Biggie! Saving the world one compartment at a time…heehee…

  5. I found some silicone cups at Big Lots, which is a discount store (I don’t know if you have them in Northern California, but they used to be Pic n Save also). They were a dozen for $1.50, both mini and regular.

  6. I love you site!

  7. @3 from Kim: Leftover slow-cooked salmon is indeed very versatile — last night I flaked the last of it and put it into a tomato-based pasta sauce for bow-tie pasta. The salmon is so tender when it’s slow cooked that it stands up to subsequent reheating quite well.

    You know, I really like the Lock & Lock boxes — so secure there’s no leakage and you can throw them in the dishwasher/microwave. They’re not the cutest things ever, but they certainly get the job done, they’re widely available and cheap. :-)

  8. @4 from Jenny: Bwah hah ha, you said it! One compartment at a time! I still have stacks of the paper cups in the kitchen, though, so I’ll want to use those up (and the Japanese ones are fun for kids, with the little pictures on them).

  9. @5 from indie.mom: Gosh, that’s a great price! We do have Big Lots here in the Bay Area. Funny you should mention them, I was there just Friday poking around! Didn’t notice any baking cups, but you never know what treasure you’ll turn up there at drastically reduced prices… Bug needed to go potty early into our visit there, though, so we ducked out without fully exploring.

  10. @6 from Stephanie: Glad your husband is warming to bentos! You can save so much money by packing your own lunch, even taking into account the cost of lunch gear and packing-friendly food.

  11. @7 from Maggie: Thanks for the kind words, Maggie!

  12. I have been following your site for a few weeks now. I pack a lunch for my preschooler/toddler -she is almost three. But I never know how much to pack because she is a good eater, she has always been a good eater and rarely turns food down and always willing to eat or asks for a snack. So I can’t gauge how much she should be eating for a meal. How old is your preschooler and does he eat it all? I use a little square plastic sandwich box thingy that is nearly 500ml but don’t pack it in. By comparing your lunch meals to your preschooler it seems much less yet, I feel like she would be eating too much if I packed as much as you show in your pictures…it’s hard to tell in photos, could you possibly show a picture of all three containers next to each other in one shot? Thanks so much.
    Christina
    (if you’d rather, you can email me)

  13. Just FYI for those using the silicone liners, I tried putting some Glad Press & Seal on the liners to help seal them & it didn’t seem to work. I may try again & try sealing them before putting them into the container.

    I will now have to check out Big Lots for the mini-silicones.

  14. @13 from Christina: My son is almost three (in October), and according to the Guide to Choosing the Right Size Bento Box that I translated, he should be using a bento box just under 400ml (350ml is probably about right for him) unless it’s full of bulky foods like bread or salad.

    The lunches I pack for Bug tend to run a little large right now — more like lunch and a snack for when we’re out. He finishes them over a period of a couple of hours, grazing. Once he starts preschool next month I’ll probably be more predictable about giving him a smaller lunch that he can totally finish in one sitting. Hope this helps!

  15. @14 from Beanbean: Mwah hah ha, what will you surprise him with? Fun, fun!

  16. @15 from MJ: Good info on using Glad Press N’ Seal with the silicone baking cups, MJ! I would think the Press & Seal would work better with hard plastic containers — or maybe just use disposable condiment cups with lids if you’re packing something wet/runny?

  17. I just found your blog… and I love it. You are a lifesaver. Thank you.

  18. I’m so glad you pointed out that these cups were available at Bed Bath Beyond, I just picked them up for $6 and I can’t wait to use them in my bento tomorrow! I can feel the savings already from not using foil and paper cups :D

  19. I thought I’d jump at the chance to quiz you a bit about bento sizes too. I have been reading for a while and I just want to make sure I am getting it right: My Hubby, who is in his mid 30′s…..shh don’t tell him I told you… and is 178cm tall and runs every lunchtime whilst at work, will need approx 1000ml – 1100ml bento, am I right? it seems light quite a lot of food.
    Do you have any advice on a “manly” bento that might fit my needs?
    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

  20. @19 from SusieJ: Thanks a lot! I’m pleased that you’re finding it useful — be sure to check out the Top Speed Tips page for organized info.

  21. @20 from Cerri: Oh great! Glad you found the cups. Feel the green, feel the green… ;-)

  22. @21 from HelenB: Could you clarify a bit for me? Are you looking for advice on the box itself, or what foods to pack in it?

  23. Sorry if the question was obscure, I guess it’s the box itself really. Am I thinking too big? because all those I have seen on your site seem to be smaller. Do I need to give him several boxes?
    As far as the food itself goes, I have plenty of fabulous ideas from your site, you are doing a super job inspiring me, thank you :D

  24. Thanks so much for the salmon recipe. I love salmon and always overcook it. This sounds so easy and so good. The photos are delicious!

  25. @26 from JD: My pleasure, JD! The salmon recipe is pretty foolproof and produces fabulous results every time (with minimal attention). I hope you enjoy it!

  26. Do you find the silicone liners are hard to wash, and if not how do you wash them? It seems like I’m always picking leftover bits off of them.

  27. @29 from Meryl: It’s too early for me to say as I just bought them and used them for these particular lunches. I ran them through the dishwasher with no issues, but I’m sure someone who’s had them for longer and packed different food in them can speak with more authority than I can in this case.

  28. Hi,

    I saw the comment on picking food off the silicone cups and figured I’d pipe in if that’s okay. :)

    I use a silicone cup in almost every bento so I understand about food sticking. What I do if I have tough food on it, is just let soak for a few minutes and the food should come off pretty easily. Sometimes it’s also easier to clean the nooks and crannies if you flip them inside out. But if you have a dishwasher (we don’t) you can run them through it no problem. It’s practically impossible to destroy these things so you can be rough with them.

  29. @31 from Zoe: Thanks for the feedback on the cups, Zoe!

  30. Biggie,
    May I just give you a HUGE shout-out for this resource! I found your website while searching for ways to make my daughter’s packed lunches more exciting. I’ve disappointed her terribly by saying no to the school lunches, which are awful, and I wanted to give her a consolation prize. I have enjoyed the last week of packing lunches for my husband and daughter more than I probably should have. :)

    After reading about them on your site I got a pack of those silicone muffin pans which fit perfectly into the sandwich containers I’m using to pack our bento lunches (http://www.organize.com/squarecuplock.html). Do you happen to know if they’re microwave safe?

    Thanks again!
    Ivy

  31. re: Cleaning the Silicone Cups
    In the instructions for one of my silicone bakeware, it says that hot water (even boiling hot) will keep it non-stick. Sounds strange but then baby bottle nipples are silicone and can be boiled to sterilize. As Zoe said, soaking helps, and turning inside out. For baking in them, soaking and rinsing in hot water gets everything out, no need to wash them. But I haven’t tried anything else yet, having just found this site last night!

  32. @34 from Lynnie: Thanks for the tip on using hot water to keep silicone baking cups nonstick, and turning it inside out to clean. Very useful.

  33. @36 from Mimi: Thanks for the heads up, Mimi — I didn’t know about that and they didn’t ask permission to use the photo. I’ll take it up with the seller and eBay.

  34. I’m a dummy but I am not certain how to use the silicone cups. I want to make muffins in them. Do I put them in a muffin tin and pour the batter in them? Do you need to use a spray shortening product?

  35. Since the silicone cups are floppy, it does help to put them in a muffin tin or on a baking tray at least.
    The silicone people say you don’t need to use anything, the recipes say to grease and flour … I grease and flour if it seems to be a particularly sticky thing (e.g. the recipe also includes directions on how to get it out in one piece using a knife!) If the silicone is in good shape, you shouldn’t need to. Might also be a difference between cheaper silicone (Wal-Mart) and more expensive ones (Tupperware). Might have to experiment.
    p.s. – I used a silicone cup for a ‘Gourmet Girl’ cupcake using a microwave cake recipe and it worked great.