Meals outside the home can be difficult. Between dietary requirements, getting the food where it needs to go, and catering to likes and dislikes, preparing a meal meant to eat away from home can be a chore. The chore becomes harder when you focus on real food, and stocking cans of soup or buckets of ramen at work to heat up in the microwave aren’t good options for you.
Enter what we call the “Adult Bento Box.”
These beauties are inspired in part by the Japanese Bento Box, which has a little bit of everything. Although I love Japanese food (and other Asian cuisines as well), they’re not my favorite. But, there’s no reason the concept can’t be used for other flavors. My Bento Boxes are usually built on a leftover of some sort, be it a meat or a vegetable, and have small things added to them. I keep nuts, sundried tomatoes, and a small bit of a somewhat fancy cheese in the house just for these purposes. Herbs, green onions, and other veggies like carrots or fennel fronds also stick around to be added to these boxes to add flavor and texture.
For this week, I’m keeping my leftovers fresh by basing the Bento Boxes on a roasted fennel we made up on Saturday night. Monday’s Bento will have a Quinoa meatball in it, a few fresh cherry tomatoes, a handful of cashews, some chopped parsley, a boiled egg, a couple of dried cherries, and a couple of sundried tomatoes.
My meal plan this week includes a roasted eggplant salad tonight followed by some spinach dumplings tomorrow night. These, along with an egg, the fennel, and some pantry items, will be used to keep my Bento Boxes fresh all week long. With just a little bit of effort, leftovers are made new and fresh all week long, and I get a lunch full of wholesome, real food easily prepped the night before or even a few days in advance.