Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Post your bento for the monthly theme, and come back to vote in the poll to decide on the best! Winners receive a bento-related prize.

Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby Biggie » Thu Mar 12, 2009 11:02 am

QChan's a bit busy with real life this week, so I'm stepping in to announce this month's contest. This month's theme is going to be "Cost: How Low Can You Go?"

Make the packed lunch you feel suits the theme, make it look tasty, and then post your entry here with a description of what's in the lunch and an estimate of the food costs. I'm thinking of Japanese bento cookbooks I have that use sale items, cheap veggies, and staple foods to put together a cheap but balanced and tasty lunch. All containers are welcome (Laptop Lunchbox, Tupperware-type containers, thermal lunch jars, sandwich cases, etc.), not just bento boxes.

You have 2 weeks to submit an entry, the contest will close on Thursday, March 26th. After that we'll throw it open to the membership to vote on the winner.

We have another prize this time, generously donated by last month's winner Laura Bento. (Thank you!) It's a three-tier Windax Sweet Bunnies picnic bento, brand new, and still in the plastic packaging. Have fun!

Image

The box

Image

The side view

Image

The top view
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby killerkitty » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:58 am

What about food you got for free, like "leftover falafel mixture friend x brought when we were cooking" or "cheese tart grandma made me" - do these count as "free" or should we estimate their price, too?

Edit: And the prize is really amazing, by the way...
Last edited by killerkitty on Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby veganf » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:03 am

What a gorgeous prize!!
I keep looking around to find a worthy prize to donate, but this section of the world is not exactly a bento hotspot....next trip somewhere cool I guess!
Off to think of what supercheap I need to use up in the pantry...
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby Biggie » Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:16 am

killerkitty wrote:What about food you got for free, like "leftover falafel mixture friend x brought when we were cooking" or "cheese tart grandma made me" - do these count as "free" or should we estimate their price, too?

Good question, killerkitty. I'm loathe to count them as totally free, otherwise I could count expensive food like lobster and crab from a friend as zero-cost. Why don't we include two cost estimates, then, if you use food gifts in your lunch:

    1. Cost to you: Count your gifts as free
    2. Total estimated food value: Make a guess of the value of any food gifts and include that in your total cost estimate
That way we can get a feeling for the true cost of the food in the lunch we're looking at, and appreciate your good fortune as well!
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby Laura Bento » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:23 am

We have another prize this time, generously donated by last month's winner Laura Bento. (Thank you!) It's a three-tier Windax Sweet Bunnies picnic bento, brand new, and still in the plastic packaging. Have fun!


You're welcome! And I just wanted to say that it's not in any plastic packaging! LOL. It came inside that cardboard box there, and I just took it out for pictures. :lol:

Good Luck everyone! I can't wait to see what you guys will come up with!

EDIT: I don't know what the capacity is, but I would say it looks like it could carry a good amount of food for two.
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby tenshi » Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:37 pm

This sounds like a lot of fun!

When figuring the cost, how should we include things we use other than the main ingredients? For example, the cost of seasonings used when cooking (like soy sauce, dashi, or flour).
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby Biggie » Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:52 pm

tenshi wrote:When figuring the cost, how should we include things we use other than the main ingredients? For example, the cost of seasonings used when cooking (like soy sauce, dashi, or flour).

A rough estimate is fine -- say, 5 or 10 cents, etc.
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby Kyoki » Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:16 pm

So to win this one, you need to have... lets see... the best balance, I suppose, between inexpensive and attractive and tasty? For instance, a bento with nothing but plain rice is cheaper than one with rice and chicken, but it wouldn't win because it's not tasty nor healthy-balanced, but a bento that's made with onigiri and chicken cut into cute shapes might win because it's both inexpensive AND attractive as well as still tasty?

... wow, for once a contest I actually have a fairly decent shot at! ^_____^
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby JBDoodles » Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:32 pm

Image

My low cost bento features Quick and Dirty (and cheap) Samosas. I absolutely love samosas, and they are usually too much work for me, so I decided to come up with a more simple recipe that mimics traditional samosas.

Ingredients:
1 bag of microwave steam-in-bag peas (1 serving)
2 servings of instant mashed potatoes (made with a bit of extra flakes for a dryer texture)
4 Goya Discos (pre-packaged frozen dough circles)
1/4 onion chopped finely
cumin
garam masala
cayenne pepper powder (just a pinch)
oil for frying
jarred Mango Chutney (watered down to be more of a dip than a jelly)

Prepare the potatoes according to the directions except add a few extra spoonfuls of potato flakes to make the texture thicker. Then microwave the peas according to the directions. Mix the potatoes and peas with the finely chopped onion, salt, and a pinch of cayenne. Then add a generous spoonful of both cumin and garam masala (an indian spice. If you can't find it, just omit it). The mixture should be brown from the spices. Wrap them up in the goya discos and pan fry them until they are browned on both sides. It is also a good idea to throw them in the oven for a few minutes to make sure the dough is thoroughly cooked. For this lunch, using a 5th disco, I cut out mini gingerbread men shapes to decorate the samosas.

I have estimated that the lunch pictured above cost approximately $1.50 taking into consideration the jumbo store-brand instant potatoes. They may not taste exactly like real samosas, but they are loaded with Indian spices and are very filing. I usually like to have a healthy balanced meal full of fresh veggies, but occasionally a cheap and yummy samosa lunch is o.k. too. :D
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Re: Bento of the Month Contest: Cost (3/09)

Postby Kyoki » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:21 am

... how do you calculate "food I grew myself and then stored away for use via canning/freezing/ect"?
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