My son has a small appetite. He refuses to eat school lunch, which I truly hope he eats even though I know many kids have numerous complaints. So I had been packing lunch for him. I mostly packed sandwiches, as many American parents do, and I sometimes made onigiri.
But he recently complained that he didn’t want to eat cold food for lunch, and started to eat less and less. So I made a big splurge to buy a bento lunch jar to pack a warm Japanese style lunch for him. I just wanted him to eat well.
But it is so difficult to cook lunch to pack in the morning. So I pack either leftovers from the night before or previously made and frozen food. In this way, you can save your time, energy, and sanity. You just need to make extra portions when you cook dinner, and save it for later use.
My bento lunch is rather modest and simple in Japanese standard, compare to other elaborate character bento, which some Japanese mothers make for their children every morning.
The picture above is leftover gyudon, which we ate the night before. The other day I packed chicken kara-age, which was previously made and frozen. Just microwave a couple of minutes prior to packing.
The wonderful thing about this type of vacuumed thermos lunch jar is that it keeps warm food warm, and cold food cold. Also the lids can be sealed tightly enough to carry hot soup, so that I don’t have to worry about leaking liquid.
A rice cooker that has a timer is very convenient in the morning. I also divide cooked rice into several single serving portions, and wrap them individually, and freeze for later use. The only thing I need to do in the morning is to pop one serving of rice in a microwave before packing.
It definitely takes some effort to pack lunch, but by doing everything systematically, it only takes about 10 minutes every morning. And so far my son has been eating better than before.