Bento is becoming quite popular nowadays, especially on Instagram and Pinterest. But these can often look quite difficult and professional, when really bento is very easy to make. Making a simple, plain Japanese bento is very easy and usually is made up of leftovers so you don’t need anything fancy and you don’t really need any special equipment. You don’t even need a bento box you can just use whatever you have at home!
There are some pretty fancy and detailed bento pictures online right now, like cartoon character ones that have the rice looking like pikachu and stuff. This is way more advanced that bento needs to be, and a lot more time consuming. I don’t think I could bring myself to eat the bento after putting that much time and effort into it. So I just make super simple bentos that don’t take much time at all. I usually just pack it with leftovers, which is what most Japanese people do. I used to make my own lunch in high school so I would always pack myself a bento made from leftovers of dinner from the night before. I never had much time because I had to get to the train station really early in the morning so I would just pack onigiri, some veggies, fruits, and leftovers. You can really pack whatever you like in it!
So here in this post I have packed Onigiri, Tonkatsu, Tamagoyaki-Japanese Rolled Egg and Japanese potato salad and some green salad leaves and cherry tomatoes. All the recipes are in my previous posts. A good point to remember when you pack something boiled or stir fried, is to cook it carefully until it does not contain much liquid so the food isn’t very wet and doesn’t leak from the bento box container. Also, to make sure the food isn’t dry, you can take some yummy sauce but make sure you make the sauce quite thick so it doesn’t leak. Japanese people also often use vinegar so that the food does not go off. And only put the lid on after the food has completely cooled down.
If you are packing lunch for small younger children, cut or make everything into smaller bite sized pieces. You can also use rice seasoning sprinkles (hurikake) so the bento is cute and makes your kids happy when they open up their yummy lunch. It is quite a trend in Japan for Japanese mothers to spend hours and hours making cute character bentos for their children, but you can make even a simple bento cute by adding a few cute decorations. Then all you need to do is wrap up the bento box in a cute handkerchief and don’t forget the chopsticks!