Days until the Chuutairen: 0
Tamagoyaki made: 10
Eggs consumed: 20
Friday was an insane day of bento preparation. It even started in the morning during a spare period at school when I sketched out my bento plan:
After working hours were finished, I spent about an hour shopping for the ingredients I didn't want to purchase too far in advance (I had already purchased things like carrots, eggs, red wieners, etc. on Saturday). I got back home around 5:30pm and was doing food preparation until 9:30pm. @_@
It wasn't all bento prep, though. I had some potatoes leftover that I decided to use to make potato salad even though I wasn't planning on putting any in my bento. I also spent about 30min. washing dishes and making/eating my dinner. Dinner was a simple egg salad sandwich, but I had to cut it up to see how much I could fit into the bottom tier/tray of my bento box. (Turns out it can hold exactly 1 sandwich with the crusts cut off and divided into sixths.)
Specifically for bento prep I...
- made egg salad & prepared the tuna (i.e. mixed it with mayo) for sandwiches;
- cut/washed & cooked broccoli;
- cut red wieners into octopus shapes
- washed & dried blueberries
- washed, dried and cut off green part of strawberries
- made tamagoyaki
The tamagoyaki I made wasn't the best looking, but it was passable:
My fridge is usually almost completely empty, but thanks to all the bento prep/food it was almost completely full Friday night:
Saturday morning I got up at 4:15am, showered/dressed, made/assembled/photographed the bento, ate breakfast and was out the door by 6:15am.
Even though all I had to do was cook the wieners; re-heat (and let cool) the tamagoyaki & broccoli; assemble/cut the sandwiches; cut the apple & kiwi it still took me the better part of an hour (about 45min?) to get it all done. @_@;; Of course the fact that I was photographing the process at every stage didn't speed things up either. =P
Here's a shot of all the food before I put it in the bento box:
The "main dish": ham/lettuce/tomato, egg salad and tuna sandwiches
The "side dishes": octopus-shaped red wieners, tamagoyaki, microwave steamed broccoli
The "dessert": bunny apple, kiwi, blueberries and strawberries (Apparently have such a variety of fruit--or perhaps it's the fruits I chose in particular--is considered fairly "extravagant/luxurious.")
And here's the fully assembled bento:
Observant may readers may have noticed that not all of the food I had prepared fit into the box. In fact, I had an entire sandwich--2/3 of a ham/lettuce/tomato sandwich, plus 1/3 each of egg salad and tuna sandwiches--and most of the kiwi and apple leftover. The excess ended up being a convenient breakfast. =P
Saturday night I made タコライス ("taco rice") for dinner. The recipe I used was meant to serve two, but it actually ended up yielding enough for me to have it for two dinners (Saturday and Sunday night), lunch, and breakfast (Sunday morning--the stuff that didn't fit into the bento tier/tray). "Taco rice" seemed like a weird idea to me at first, but it was actually pretty tasty. Plus it was super simple to make--looks like I've got another dish for my "regular" repertoire! =P
Anyway, since I'd done pretty much all the prep work on Friday night, all I had to do was pack & refrigerate the taco rice ingredients, cut the green parts off the strawberries and make tamagoyaki and I was done with my bento prep for Sunday.
The final tamagoyaki:
Sunday morning followed the same pattern as Saturday morning, except that instead of preparing sandwiches I cut up tomatoes for the taco rice (the lettuce and meat were leftover from Saturday's dinner). The rice I just had to take out of the rice cooker and allow to cool--rice cookers with timers are a wonderful thing!!
The food pre-bento assembly:
One other change from Saturday's bento: I tried making a penguin wiener using a cutter I found/bought at Jusco!! ^_^ It was cute, but I still like the octopus better.
The fully assembled bento:
After this bento-making experience, I came to a few conclusions:
1) making bentos regularly is probably only convenient for people who also cook regularly; it's easy enough if you have leftovers from dinner to put into your bento, but if you have to make a whole bunch of food expressly for the bento it's a lot of work
2) Japanese wives/mothers who make bentos on a regular basis would probably be amazing business managers--planning meals/bentos is really a great exercise in resource/time management! Whatever faults a person might have, if they make bentos regularly, I totally respect the amount of effort they put into it! I know that with practice it probably becomes an easier, faster, more efficient process, but still...
3) "Proper" bentos are great, but I probably wouldn't have the energy to make them regularly; for long stretches without school visits (summer, winter and spring vacations) I'll probably stick to my usual onigiri/raw veggie bentos--although I might on occasion throw in some tamagoyaki or red wieners. If I have time to make dinner the night before of course I'd also throw in any usable leftovers, but except for special occasions I won't make it a point to plan out bentos.