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Posted on Jan 29, 2009 in Bento, For Kids, Meat, Onigiri or Sushi, Sandwich or Wrap | 7 comments

Burger lunches two ways

Burger lunches two ways


Making extra food at dinner and saving it for packed lunches is a handy way to speed up lunch prep. Think about the size of what you’re making; can you make miniature versions that would fit nicely into a bento box, like shepherd’s pie?

Today’s lunches both use leftover mini-hamburgers that I had my husband grill at the same time as he grilled the rest of our burgers for dinner. You can take the same burger leftovers in different directions: a traditional cheeseburger, or a lower-carb version with cut-up burgers. I’ve also had tiny appetizer burgers on golf ball-sized buns, secured with a toothpick, that would be the perfect size for a bento lunch. Get creative!

Mini burger bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Mini cheeseburger with cheddar cheese in pita bread, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, kiwifruit, and cherry tomatoes.

Trick for freezing ground meat in small portions

Morning prep time: 5 minutes, using a leftover mini-burger, onions and mushrooms. In the morning I briefly warmed the burger in the microwave to revive the texture, cut the kiwi, and packed the lunch. A quickie. If you don’t have entire cooked burgers already made up, break off a square of ground meat that you’ve frozen in individual portions, thaw it out, and quickly pan-fry it. (Read on for packing details and an additional burger lunch with inarizushi stuffed sushi.)

450ml Disney Cars bento boxPacking: I used reusable silicone baking cups to separate the savory vegetables from the sweet fruit. The kiwifruit is cut into eighths, and I threw in a little food pick from Daiso to make eating easier for little hands. For the burger, I cut a whole pita bread round into quarters, added a triangle of sliced cheddar cheese, and cut the mini-burger in half horizontally so it would fit into the pita comfortably. The whole lunch is packed in a 450ml Disney Cars bento box with a removable subdivider.

Verdict: Home run! Bug ate the entire lunch at preschool and didn’t leave anything.

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Mini burger & inarizushi bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Inarizushi (sushi rice stuffed into pre-packaged abura-age seasoned tofu wrappers), hamburger patty with ketchup, mini carrots, grapes and blueberries.

How to freeze inari zushiMorning prep time: 8 minutes, using leftover inarizushi and hamburger, and a pre-filled sauce container of ketchup. In the morning I briefly microwaved the refrigerated inarizushi and hamburger to restore the texture, and cut up the burger. You can also make inarizushi in advance, wrapping and freezing the inarizushi for speedy lunch prep.

Blue Hakoya bento boxPacking: I put the burger into a reusable silicone baking cup to keep it away from the fruit and vegetables, and threw in a little food pick for easy eating.  The ketchup went into a little squeeze bottle with a tomato-shaped flip top. The whole lunch is packed in a 415ml two-tier Hakoya bento box that I picked up at Kamei on the cheap in San Francisco. When Bug was finished eating, he turned the empty top tier over and nested it down inside the larger bottom tier to save room in his lunch bag.Condiment containers for packed lunches

Verdict: Good except for the carrots; Bug ate everything else but left two of the carrots, saying they were two hard. Dunno why, he ate a pile of them raw just a few days prior.



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  1. can you make the tofu wrappers? I don’t think I can buy them here, but I have had inarizushi and really enjoyed it.

  2. Hi Biggie! Kind of random, but I was wondering what type of rice you use to make onigiri and put in those cute rice molds (like the cube, elephant…).

    Thanks a bunch!

  3. @2 from midnight: I use short- or medium-grain white rice, usually Kokuho Rose but anything similar should give you the same results.

  4. @1 from Mimi: I’ve never tried making the seasoned abura-age myself, but here’s a recipe link for the plain abura-age:

  5. I’m going to become very interested in your two tier bentos now that I think N is outgrowing his standard totoro bento. Today, his pre-school class climbed a tower in a chapel (240 steps) so he was extra hungry!

    Love the mini burgers. I take a cookie cutter to a standard veggie burger and make 3-4 mini burgers, they go perfectly with mini waffles or mini pitas (from TJ’s).

  6. @Biggie: Thanks Biggie! Being from a small town on the east coast, bentos and their contents are so interesting! :)

  7. @5 from vampyra1: Well, they’re the little triangle ones that are about half the size of the rectangular ones. I get the triangular seasoned wrappers in the refrigerated section of my Korean market.