At first glance this may not seem like a particularly interesting lunch, but I’ve actually taken a couple of new approaches to packing that can be applied to other dishes. Double-decker heating of multiple dishes in the microwave oven saves time and energy, and I created a do-it-yourself thermal donburi bento box for a child out of an adult-sized thermal lunch jar.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Mild Japanese curry made with chicken, carrots, onions and purple potatoes (see my cooking notes). Accompaniments are rakkyo pickled scallions and rice.
Morning prep time: 6 minutes, using leftover curry and rice. In the morning I microwaved the rice and curry in microwave-safe ceramic bowls while preheating the outer thermal food jar with hot tap water. Preheating the outer thermal jar helps the container retain heat longer, keeping your food nice and warm.
Gear: Although microwave ovens are usually a pretty good size on the inside, the limiting factor on how much food I can warm at once is usually the diameter of the round glass carousel on the bottom. It makes sense to take advantage of the oven’s vertical space to warm multiple dishes at once, though, reducing the time the microwave is running and saving money on electricity.
I’ve found a few different stands and plate covers that let you stack plates and bowls on top of each other in the microwave or refrigerator. I keep them next to the microwave and reach for them every day — the covers are faster than reaching for plastic wrap when nuking even a single plate of food, and the plastic doesn’t touch the food directly. An added benefit is that they’re reusable and reduce kitchen waste. I happened to pick them all up at at the Daiso discount store in Daly City, CA (branches internationally) because at US$1.50 they’re cheap there, but you can also find these sorts of microwave plate covers on Amazon in different designs. (Read on for more microwave covers and lunch packing details.)
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