Category Archives: Bento

Zojirushi Lunch Jar: Hot lunch = huge success

You know something? My daughter still religiously totes around her Zojurushi lunch jar. Most of the days it comes home empty. However, there are some days when that’s not always the case. In those instances, it’s normally because her teacher, before lunch, has went over and has cut into their lunch time.

Oh by the way, this is an advanced post.

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Zojirushi Lunch jar: Hot and cold meals

 

Yesterday morning, I added this to her Zojirushi lunch jar…

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Zojirushi Lunch Jar: Chicken & Rice

 

Chicken and rice. The Chicken is actually homemade chicken tenders that I’d made earlier in the week. I roughly chopped and added rice and a bit of Himalyan sea salt. I thought about adding additional spices, but my daughter likes a plain chicken and rice dish a times so that’s what we went with.

 

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Green Salad: Kale harvested from our garden

 

My daughter loves her salad. These greens came from our garden. My daughters loves her salad. In addition to the greens, I added a bit of raisins. In hindsight I should have added walnuts.

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Sweet potatoes harvested from our garden

 

These are mashed sweet potatoes to which has been added a dab of butter, cinnamon and organic sugar. A simple delightful treat. You would think that was enough dessert for my daughter, but no….

 

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Pretzel rods and Chocolate chip coconut cookies

As you can see, she has a pretzel rod in one cupcake liner. And the remaining two liners are housing two chocolate coconut cookies.
What’s in her thermos? Why Hibiscus water kefir… my daughter loves naturally water kefir soda. She said this particular flavor tastes like cherry soda.
And there you have it, a healthy homemade lunch. The only “processed foods” with the exception of the pretzel rods was made by me. It doesn’t get any better than that. ūüėČ

Zojirushi Lunch jar: What’s for lunch?

I’ve received a few emails from people wondering what I’ve been packing in my daughters lunch.¬† So, I decided to put my scheduled post (for today) on hold and share what I packed in her Zojirushi lunch jar this morning.

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Healthy lunch meal with salad, bean burritos, chicken and snacks. The great thing about the Zojirushi lunch jar is it keeps the food hot without heating. There’s a insulator/divider that separates the hot and cold food.

The above photo shows everything!¬† All of the insulated jars are neatly lined up ready to be stacked in the tiffin container. In the far right corner you’ll see the burrito that I cut up into small bite sized pieces. My daughter loves burritos and so do I. I¬† made these Burritos a few weeks ago. I made a large batch and froze the majority. These are black bean burritos, with some vegetables and quinoa added. The spices and herbs added enhanced the flavor of the beans and veggies and made a tasteful meal. I make a similar bean dish for my black bean stir fry.

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Chicken breast and carrots, simple meal but my daughter loves this so much.

The above dish is the chicken dish I made for my daughter on her return to solid foods earlier this week. Baby carrots were included, ginger, onion, garlic and some freshly ground herbs and spices. The chicken breasts were prepared in my pressure cooker.

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I use silicone cupcake liners to separate my daughters snacks that are in the same container.

Here’s an up close picture of her snacks. I use silicone cupcake liners to separate everything within this container. In the pink liner she has cashews and raisins. The orange liner contains two cookies, and the lime liner contains banana slices.

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Cute container used to hold the homemade Ginger honey salad dressing that I made for my daughter’s lunch

The above container is what I recently ordered to hold my daughters condiments. I must say that I really enjoy these containers (two were in the package.) Today, this sweet container was used to store my daughters salad dressing. Isn’t it adorable?¬† The salad dressing is a homemade Ginger honey salad dressing that I prepared this morning.

 

Tools Used

  1. Zojirushi SL-XCE20HG Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tiffin Box
  2. Baking Buddies Reusable Silicone Baking Cups
  3. Japanese Kitchen Bento Ketchup Mayo Dressing Bottles

 

Bento Supplies; Mustard and ketchup containers

I’ve been slacking on posting some of the lunches that my daughter has been taken in her Zojirushi lunch jar. She hasn’t grown tired of it, it’s quite the opposite, she loves taking hot lunches daily and hasn’t wanted to purchase Wednesday’s school lunch (pizza from delivered from a local restaurant) since I purchased her lunch jar. I must say that’s very impressive, because the local restaurant does make a fairly decent pizza.

My daughter’s school lunch is filled with the leftovers from the home cooked meals that I prepare throughout the week. She loves that she isn’t eating cold/lukewarm lunches anymore and I’m thrilled that I don’t have to make special meals that are suitable to eat cool/lukewarm.

Besides the Zojirushi lunch jar, I did purchase some additional bento supplies, they were mainly purchased so that she could carry her condiments. The sauce bottles I purchased are adorable, but they only work well with liquids, such as soy sauce.  Of course, that meant I was hunting for a suitable container for thicker sauces.

Bento-Mayo and Ketchup bottle

I believe we have a winner! The Japanese Kitchen Bento Ketchup Mayo Dressing Bottles! Judging by their description, they appear to be made for thicker sauces. They’re also adorable! Just look at them. I like industrial/functional but my daughter loves ‘cutesy’ items. Of course, I purchased these containers since I know it’ll please her. I haven’t told her about them, so this will be a small surprise for her, when she opens her lunch.

They haven’t arrived yet, so I can’t say how we’ll like these containers, but when we do receive them, I’ll be sure to test them out myself and also get a review from my daughter.

 

Zojirushi hot lunch jar: Noodles, cornbread, Mac & Cheese…

Earlier this week, I prepared a meal specifically for my daughters Zojirushi Tiffin jar.

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This above photo is everything that went into my daughters Zojirushi hot lunch jar.

The main course was made on the morning she went to school…

Initially I was going to make noodles and some type of sausage meatballs in a pasta sauce, but I realized that I really did not have time to make a pasta sauce and so I went with another plan. We did have Ramen noodles! Perfect, I prepared them. Once they were cooked I rinsed them thoroughly and set aside.

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In my stainless steel skillet I sauteed sausage, once cooked, I added onions and sauteed until clear.
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While that was cooking I ground herbs and spices in my mortar and pestle. The smell was heavenly.

About two minutes later I added the herbs and Ramen noodles into the skillet.¬† I turned off the heat and added peppers and broccoli to the dish. Since my daughter’s lunch jar is insulated, the veggies would be lightly cooked until lunch time at school. I also added some homemade chicken tenders that I’d prepared earlier in the week. I broke them up into bite pieces and added to the noodles.

The vegetables did not come from our garden, harvesting time, for these vegetables are complete until next year, but… they were still fresh since I purchased them at a local farm. If you like produce as much as myself, it pays to know what local farmers are nearby.

Here’s a close-up of what was inside my daughter’s Zojirushi hot lunch jar.

 

Ramen noodles with sausage, chicken, and veggies_Zojirushi hot lunc

 

Ramen noodles with Sausage, chicken and vegetables; peppers, broccoli and onions

 

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Homemade macaroni and cheese

 

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Homemade corn bread

 

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Grapes, apples and goldfish

Zojirushi insulated Tiffin Box bag

Everything  stacks neatly on top each other (Tiffin style) and fits in this compact lunch bag.

I’ve said numerous times already that I’m thrilled with the purchase of the Zojirushi hot lunch jar. My daughter has been bringing home an empty lunch daily. Since the lunch is hot, I can give her leftovers or as in this case make food the same morning and know the food will remain hot when she eats it 4.5 hours later.

 

Tools used

  1. Zojirushi SL-XCE20HG Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tiffin Box
  2. Baking Buddies Reusable Silicone Baking Cups
  3. Food Picks & Forks / Bento Decoration (Animals) 10 Pcs
  4. Stainless Steel Vegetable Cutters

 

 

 

 

 

Zojirushi hot lunch jar; silicone cupcake liners work great

Silicone Baking CupsTowards the end of last week, I ordered silicone cupcake liners to add to my bento tool collection. I purchased them because I thought they’d be a colorful and creative way to keep dry and moist foods separate in my daughters Zojirushi hot lunch jar.

Silicone cupcake liner features

  • BPA Free and FDA approved non-stick silicone.
  • Great for muffins, cupcakes, cheesecakes, ice cream cakes, chocolate shell lined desserts and gelatin.
  • Standard size 2.5/8 inch diameter x 1.1/4 inch tall baking cups.
  • Temperature safe from -40 to +446 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher safe
  • Lifetime Guarantee!
Zojirushi hot lunch jar. Silicon liners_1

Zojirushi bread bowl stuffed with strawberries, celery, and goldfish

 

As you can see from the above picture, the liners make the perfect divider/compartment for a variety of food. My daughter was thrilled that everything remained in it’s cupcake liner. Thanks to the liners, her crackers didn’t become soggy from the moist produce. Perfect!

Cost savings and Eco-friendly

I didn’t pay too much for the silicone cupcake liners. They only cost me $8.95 for a pack of twelve. For something that is reusable and can be used to bake items, that’s a great deal. If I wanted bland colors I could have purchased the liners at a cheaper price, but my daughter and I both love vibrant color and so I was willing to pay a few dollars more for these cupcake liners.

The practical mom in me loves that using reusable items (which is very eco-friendly) such as the¬† Zojirushi lunch jar, means I’m not constantly purchasing disposable bags to store her snacks. The four containers included within the jar take care of that quite nicely. My daughter does regret not being able to use the embroidered sandwich bags, that I sewed for her, but I told her we’d find other uses for them.

Tools used

  1. Zojirushi SL-XCE20HG Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tiffin Box
  2. Baking Buddies Reusable Silicone Baking Cups
  3. Food Picks & Forks / Bento Decoration (Animals) 10Pcs

 

Fun with Bento lunch boxes

When it comes to creative school lunches, I always thought that the Japanese were miles ahead  of many Americans.

I love the stackable lunch boxes, they remind me of the tiffins I’ve seen used in Indian cuisine.

History of Bento lunches

I really liked the above video that talked about the history of Bentos.


In the second video you can see some of the gorgeous craftmanship used in creating some of the bento boxes. Truly a work of art.

Japanese people aren’t the only ones that are into bentos. Here in the USA, I’ve seen bento lunch boxes make appearances in blog posts and other places online. The Vegan Lunch box, is I first time I learned about bento lunch boxes.
Although I found bentos fascinating I never felt the urge to purchase them. At the time, it made no sense (to me anyway) to sink¬† money into a Bento Box (regardless of how pretty they were) if it wasn’t keeping the food hot without heating. I already had portable lunch boxes. Also I was working from home full-time and my daughter was still a toddler. The practical me knew there was no reason to purchase the bento lunch boxes.

Of course, all that has changed. My daughter is in school (and prefers hot lunches) since the Zojirushi stainless lunch jar keeps the food hot, I now think of cute ways I can enhance what she takes to school.


Although I like how some of the intricate bento lunches looked, it’s something I most likely would not do since some of those decorations take a lot of time.

Bear Sandwich Cutter

Of course, while researching bento boxes I looked at the cute bento tools that people used to dress up their lunches.

heat shaped sandwich cutter_

Collecting Bento tools

Most of the decorations seem to originate from Japan. Over the years, I’ve ordered a few products directly from Japan. They’ve taken a while to receive, but the products I ordered were always worth the wait. Thankfully, Amazon has a ton of them, and I’ve already added a few bento tools to my collection, you can see some of them featured in my post about the Zojirushi hot lunch jars.

Throughout this post, I’ve included a few videos so you can see the creativity involved with these bento lunches. Aren’t the children adorable? I love children, which might explain why I do a lot of volunteer work with them.

Fast forward to the newly purchased Zojirushi hot lunch jar, and I’ve my views of ‘bento lunches’ has changed a lot. Adding simple bento decorations to food is something I’ve already started incorporating with my daughters lunches. I might purchase a few more bento tools, but for the most part I’m done.

I will say that, part of the enjoyment of making lunches for my daughter has always been the extras that I’d included. Often, she did not know what to expect. Occasionally, I’d slip a note into her lunch bag telling her something special and other times I’d include an unexpected treat. Those unexpected surprises always make her happy, and let’s be honest, it gives me a chance to stimulate my creative side.

Healthy lunches within minutes

Since my daughters food is now contained in tiered jars I can do a bit more within the creative department.¬† I definitely won’t be taking hours to decorate her food, but adding a¬† few minutes to decorate some of her hot meals, is something that I’m happy to incorporate into lunch preparation. Yesterday, my daughters hot school lunch took about 10 minutes to prepare; that included choosing the food, heating it and adding the decorative tooth picks. The few moments set aside to warm and add leftovers to her lunch, is worth the effort since she now eats everything in her lunch.

Zojirushi stainless lunch jar; Veggies, rice and meatballs

As you can see… discovering, the hot lunch jars has definitely expanded the types of homemade foods that I can add to my 10yo daughters lunches. As I already mentioned, the lunches I prepared before were homemade, but I was limited since she wasn’t using an insulated lunch box.

This week my daughter had a variety of hot meals in her lunch such as; egg rolls, vegetable fried rice, chicken breasts, pasta, black beans and rice and a few other hot lunches also. I’ve included some photos below.

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Zojirushi hot lunch jar meatballs and brown rice

Earlier this week I made meatballs, brown rice and vegetables to put into my daughters Zojirushi stainless lunch jar.

Zojirushi hot lunch jar - cheesy broccoli

Pressure cooked broccoli and cauliflower with shredded cheese.

 

Towards the end of last week, I picked up some Japanese ‘bento decorations’ and have been having fun adding cute little touches to my daughters hot lunches. I definitely won’t be spending a lot of time in food the design department, but I don’t mind adding a few moments to dress up my daughter’s lunch a bit. I’m sure my skills will improve the more I play around with the cute little bento tools.

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A close picture of the meatballs swimming in a fragrant mushroom sauce. I added a few cute animal tooth picks to dress up the dish. Aren’t they adorable? It sort of looks like they are resting on mounds of earth.¬† My daughter loved seeing these decorations in her Zojirushi lunch jar.

Bento - food cutters

Grapes and carrots… I used cookie cutters to make animal shapes with the carrots.

 

Yesterday (Thursday) marked a week that my daughter has been using the zojirushi insulated lunch jar, and each day she’s brought home an empty lunch. It only takes about ten minutes to pack leftover foods into her lunch in the morning. The rewards are having my daughter bring an empty lunch box home.