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Posted on Mar 9, 2007 in Bento, For Kids, Freezing, Meat, Onigiri or Sushi, Pasta or Noodles, Rice, Tips | 8 comments

Speed Bento Tip: cycle through freezer items quickly

Speed Bento Tip: cycle through freezer items quickly


Today’s 5-minute speed lunches used up the last of the older frozen bento stash: spaghetti cups, onigiri rice balls, and mini hamburgers made from meatloaf mix. It’s important to cycle through your frozen items on a regular basis, using things up before they lose flavor and vitamins or, God forbid, develop freezer burn, which renders them worthy only of the garbage can. My general rule of thumb is to use up frozen bento items in 3 weeks if possible, 4 weeks at max.

BTW, I’ve decided to call my two-year-old son “Bug” online, so Bug’s lunch below also added:

  • leftover green beans and pecans with orange essence and maple syrup (recipe from Cook’s Illustrated)
  • cherry tomatoes (to fill the gaps in the box and stabilize the meal for transport)
  • ketchup in a tiny paper cup with film cover I’m trying out. As long as the sauce is viscous (mayo, ketchup, tartar sauce) and you don’t treat the bento roughly in transit, it stays put. Interesting.
  • the bear food divider is just for fun as it’s not actually dividing up any food — just peeking out from behind the rice

Speedy green bean lunch for toddler お弁当

My lunch adds a tiny apple, cheese cubes and the last of the blueberries. This also took 5 minutes to pack, so 10 minutes total for the two lunches.

Speedy green bean lunch お弁当




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  1. Not usually — we’re usually out and about (at playgrounds, the zoo, etc.), and not near a microwave.

  2. Hi! I adore your recipies and I’ve friended your journal. Thanks for the heads-up about the Daiso in Daly City…I made the trek there last week and WOW! Worth the drive from Sacramento! Thank you!

  3. Absolutely! Next time you’re in San Francisco on your way to Daiso, be sure to make a stop at Ichiban Kan in Japantown. Depending on where they are in their inventory cycle, they have lots of bento gear for $1. Last week they got in a bunch of those insulated bento sets (where the rice bowl is insulated like a lunch jar, two side containers, fork in a case, and a smart-looking insulated carrying bag) for $20 — much cheaper than Kukje (where they go for about $40, if memory serves). I’ll take a picture soon of the one I got.

    Ichiban Kan also had another insulated bento set without the special rice jar for $14, plus many different bento bands, bento boxes, sandwich boxes, snack boxes, matching chopsticks, kinchaku bags, and proper bento bags with straps and a snap on the top. Hit Ichiban Kan first, then Daiso (which has much more variety than Ichiban Kan, but is $0.50 more expensive).

  4. Hey there! I absolutely love your site. I’m actually curious, though — where do you find these “tiny apples”?

  5. I’ve tried to stay away from your addicting blog — I have enough projects and I know I’ll become instantly addicted to bento — but I just can’t. You have so many wonderful tips and beautiful photos. I can’t wait to make the bourek recipe you shared a few entries back, and when I finally cave, I know I’ll be using so many of your tips. Although my husband and I are NOT ready for kids, your fun and amazingly cute lunches are definitely getting me excited for toddlers, which previously was frightening for me.

    I really hate to ask a question I’m sure you’ve answered a thousand times; I tried reading through all of your backlog comments but there are just so many!

    I understand that you are normally on-the-go with these lunches. Some of the food, such a yoghurt dip or mayonnaise, I would personally be afraid of spoiling. Is this a concern or is it really okay for 4-5 hours for these things to sit at room-tempature, if you’re on the go? Clearly it shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s a hang-up for me that I can’t get past. I personally would like to refrigerate my food, but then there’s the issue of rice becoming dry and useless. (By the way, I’ve been making onigiri for a few years now and you really came through with the tip about freezing/heating in the morning, it works like a charm — of course, you already knew that!)

    Someone else mentioned that you should publish a book. I would buy it in a heartbeat. This is the only (self) publishing company I know of, but I hear they’re very good:

  6. I got these at a good/cheap Mediterranean produce market in San Francisco (22nd & Irving) — actually Bug spotted a big box of them in the market. Not that expensive, either, and just the right size to pop into a little lunch.

  7. Hi pinkfairywand, and welcome! Thank you for the kind comments. I’ll put together a more comprehensive post on food safety, but I try to adjust how I handle each lunch according to what’s packed inside. I don’t pack raw fish or raw/rare meat. When I pack yogurt I use the Laptop Lunchbox with its insulated carrying case and freezy gel pack, if there’s something that’ll spoil easily in a bento I pop it in an insulated carrying case I picked up at a dollar store. Japanese bento cookbooks have tons of tips and rules for reducing the chance of food spoilage (some foods have antibacterial properties, a number of antibacterial bento products are on the market like bento sheets, dividers and food cups, etc.). More to follow — stay tuned.

  8. Awesome!
    I have a hard time finding kinchaku and furoshiki…perhaps I’ll have better luck at Ichiban Kan next time. :)


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