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Every Mom's dilemma when school starts: what do I make for my kids' lunches? Sandwiches? Too boring for finicky eaters. Leftovers? Great, but there's no microwave at school. The fashionable answer is the bento lunch--nutrition with an attractive presentation. This month's recipes from Zojirushi are wholesome lunchtime meals that take advantage of our carry out lunch jars and their ability to keep foods hot.
Our meatless hamburger is delicious either hot or at room temperature, which makes it ideal for a bento lunch. With tofu, you get the protein without the meat, making it a healthier alternative with all the taste satisfaction.
See recipe for
Tofu Hamburger
One of the heartiest soups you can make, peas are low in fat but high in protein and fiber. Keep your soup nice and hot in the insulated section of your Zojirushi Lunch Jar.
See recipe for
Green Pea Soup
Now let's try some "Character Bento", or kyaraben as they're known in Japan. These cute little lunches are addicting--once you start making them, you'll want to keep making it again and again to get better at it. When you're ready to pack your masterpiece, we recommend the Zojirushi Lunch Jar with all of its compartments. It helps to keep the hot foods hot and the cold foods cold. Don't forget to take a picture of your first creation!
Elephant shaped cookies with sugar icing and grapes
  Bear shaped Tofu Hamburger (See recipe)
  White Rice (See recipe)
  Green Pea Soup (See recipe)
  Bring your favorite drink (More Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottles)
Pack your room temperature foods here.
Pack your hot or cold foods here.
When you think about it, there are almost endless possibilities for filling a bento lunch--not everything needs to be heated to taste good. Here are some very tempting bento-friendly recommendations:
Grilled favorites: How about grilling vegetables like zucchini marinated in olive oil and garlic, or potatoes and red peppers garnished with herbs? There is nothing like grilling to bring out the flavor of vegetables, and the flavor lasts even when served at room temperature. Or you could do shrimp Thai style, marinated in spices; roast or grill a chicken glazed with Dijon mustard for a classic French dish. Use that grill to go beyond steak and burgers, and start thinking bento for your lunch the next day!
Salads: This might seem obvious, and vegetables and pasta salads are of course meant to be eaten cold. But they don't need to be right out-of-the-fridge ice cold. To keep leafy greens from getting soggy, just make sure they're completely dry before packing. Pastas should be cooled down completely after being prepared before you pack it--same goes for any other ingredients that are used in it. If mayo is used, it's a good idea to use a Zojirushi Lunch Jar that has insulated compartments that can keep it cool.
Deep fry: As a staple of the bento, you can often find a single piece of deep fried prawn, a potato croquette or some fried chicken in a well-stocked Japanese lunch. Just make sure that the oil is the right temperature when you cook, that the excess is drained with a cooling rack or paper towels, and that the deep fried food is completely cooled down before you pack it. Delicious with rice!
Cold cuts: What you cannot get into a sandwich, like bite-sized pieces of beef or chicken wings, you can get into a bento lunch box. Pre-prepared marinated salmon is nice, as is roasted tenderloin for lunch. Just make sure that any kind of protein is cooked thoroughly the first time, and cool it down thoroughly before putting it in your bento. This is a basic food safety rule that shouldn't be taken lightly. Zojirushi Lunch Jars are designed to keep room temperature foods away from hot foods for extended periods of time.
We eat with our eyes as well as our mouth. How true--especially true with bento. Be sure to think about presentation when you prepare your lunch box and you'll be eagerly waiting for lunch hour to come around--even if you've prepared it for yourself! Can you imagine how kids feel when they open their kyaraben? The best part is that it doesn't have to be grandiose or complicated. Even three or four items can look great, be very nutritious and taste yummy. Try your hand at it and you just might get hooked!
Vacuum insulated food jar with excellent heat retention   Wide opening for easy scooping and cleaning   SlickSteel® finish interior resists corrosion and repels stains   Tight-fitted lid with gasket seals lid
  Vacuum insulated main bowl, two side bowls, chopsticks and chopsticks holder Large tote bag can also hold beverages and snacks Microwaveable inner bowls
  Stainless steel lunch jar with four microwaveable inner bowls, forked spoon and a carrying bag Large bag can also hold beverages and snacks Forked spoon with cover
Stay tuned for cuisine that everybody likes. We'll be featuring our easy to prepare recipes with a Chinese flair!