Gap filling foods/tips

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Gap filling foods/tips

Postby PixelxBento » Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:12 am

Help!

I've read this http://lunchinabox.net/2007/06/11/guide ... p-fillers/
over and over again but i keep on getting stuck!

I only get stuck because the person I pack bento for really hates cherry tomatoes and as odd as this sounds, packing fresh fruits don't really suit our lifestyle. I am trying figure out something easy like cherry tomatoes that I can just throw in with out worrying about having to wrap or use a food divider for.
Does anyone have any suggestions? What do you usually do to fill in the gaps? [Besides using extra food separators?]

Thank you :]

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Re: Gap filling foods/tips

Postby Pangolin » Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:22 am

I know you mentioned no fruit, but... grapes, cherries...kumquats... pieces of fruit could work that same way as the veggies listed below . apples, pears, orange or clementine segments...

As far as vegetables go, rather than cutting cucumber or zucchini into rounds, cut it into "blocks".. you can use bell pepper, mini carrots; small pickled corn can be cut into pieces to fit into tiny spaces. If it's an unusual shape, you could try mushrooms. (Avocado only works if it's just barely ripe and not too squishy!)

Cheese (or tofu blocks :? ) cut into little cubes or rectangles. Tiny onigiri.
Small sauce containers for a little bit of dip or dressing can also take up a corner if you need them to.

As long as the filler is a little dense, and can hold it shape on it's own, it should work to fill gaps.

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Re: Gap filling foods/tips

Postby Folly » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:12 pm

In addition to cherry tomatoes, cherries, and grapes, my basic gap fillers include:
- mini carrots
- olives
- marinated artichokes
- pickled onions (from a Japanese food store)
- pickled garlic (from a Japanese food store)
- broccoli
- snowpeas
- clementines (whole or cut in half/quarters according to the open space)
- wrapped cheese (Laughing Cow wedges/cubes. BabyBel rounds)
- individually wrapped candy or cookies
- lettuce leaves
- sprigs of parsley, basil or shiso
- an odd tablespoon of somethng left over from dinner

If you have an Asian market nearby, cruise the aisles for candy and snacks. They often have small, individually wrapped snacks meant for lunch packing.

As to the food separators, I have to say that when my bento is looking blah, if I start dividing or framing food with lettuce, herbs, or plastic baran, evrything looks better.
Last edited by Folly on Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gap filling foods/tips

Postby PixelxBento » Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:42 pm

I guess fruit is really important- I am assuming that I would be able to freeze pre cut fruit by me and freeze for a later use for lunches?

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Re: Gap filling foods/tips

Postby Pangolin » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:30 pm

PixelxBento wrote:I guess fruit is really important- I am assuming that I would be able to freeze pre cut fruit by me and freeze for a later use for lunches?



Some fruit freezes better than others. I would ut them up before freezing to make it easy. Just cut up the fruit to the sizes you want, then lay them out one layer thick, pieces not touching each other, on a baking sheet, and put in the freezer. When the fruit is frozen, dump it into a container or freezer bag. (I put wax paper over the baking sheet so I can peel the frozen fruit pieces off easier.)


Grapefruit and oranges seem to freeze fine. Watermelon, cantalope, honeydew, mango and papaya also freeze fine. Pomegranate seeds and red grapes freeze fine, but they do get sticky on the outsides. Apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots freeze okay and are okay when they thaw out. Strawberries and raspberries can get a little soft, but they start out that way. Blueberries freeze fine - and they taste good frozen.

Green grapes don't freeze well at all (they don't get hard)- a chemical in them works like natural anti-freeze. Apples and pears get mealy when they defrost, and bananas just get mushy.


Some vegetables freeze okay, but most of the leafy ones get all soft and wilty when the defrost. Cucumber and bell peper get a little soft. Zucchini holds up okay. Obviously, carrots, corn, green beans, and peas all freeze well, although they might be better if you steam then when you eat them. (As a kid, my brother and I used to love frozen veggies still frozen!)

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Re: Gap filling foods/tips

Postby monki » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:33 pm

I've just discovered Macadamia nuts as a gap filler. Kidney beans are common in my lunches, as are clementine segments. And I usually try to get a wrapped mint in there somewhere.
http://www.scrumptiousbento.blogspot.com
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Re: Gap filling foods/tips

Postby elenacala » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:50 pm

What about small cheese cubes, or olives those are also pretty small. Small sausages might work too theres also nuts and dried fruit. those are the only non fruit non cherry tomato things that haven't already been listed.

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Re: Gap filling foods/tips

Postby PixelxBento » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:09 pm

What kind olives are best as gap fillers?

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Re: Gap filling foods/tips

Postby Folly » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:45 pm

PixelxBento wrote:What kind olives are best as gap fillers?


Whatever you like. You only need 1 or 2 in a bento to fill a gap or to add color. They come whole, seeded or stuffed. The stuffings can be pimentos, almonds, onions, anchovies, etc. Sized from petite to giant. Green or black. Brined or spiced. You don't have to stay with the ones in cans or jars. Some delis or salad bars will let you pack your own, so you could make a small container of mixed olives and dress your bento for several meals.
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