Sunday, July 20, 2014

Easy Bento w/out Decorations

Tonight I made a bento box out of my leftovers from dinner. Super easy and sans embellishment.
The main course is acorn squash and roasted red potatoes. 
Cottage cheese in one slot.

Garlic hummus and pretzel crisps in another slot.
Yogurt with homemade fruit compote in the last slot.
Garnish the box with sliced cheery tomatoes and cucumbers. Viola! Simple lunch that is filling and tasty. 
Acorn squash is easy. Just cut the squash length wise and com in a pan. (Cut side down) for 45 minutes. Turn the squash over and put butter and brown sugar in each side. Cook another 15 minutes.
Roasted red potatoes are also easy. 
I cut my red potatoes into fours. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and Italian spices. Cook on 350 for 45 minutes as well.
For a fruit compote, grab a bag of frozen fruit (I use strawberries and blueberries) and put in a sauce pan. Add a little water and a tablespoon of sugar. Simmer until the compote is the consistency you want it. I add my compote to toast and yogurts. I prefer Noosa yogurt, but any yogurt will do, obviously. 
To make this bento box more interesting, you can separate the squash and red potatoes with a plastic bento grass divider and add fun toothpicks to the potatoes. You can also cut carrot and cheese flowers and sprinkle them around. I'm short on time tonight, so I skipped the decorations and focused on the meal. Tomorrow, we will create a box that is decorative! 

Bento Boxes and Time

Hello, welcome to Budgeting the Bento. This blog will give you easy, inexpensive ideas for making bento box lunches. My mother bought me a bento box kit a couple years ago. At first, bento boxes seemed super daunting. Bento box recipes can be expensive and time consuming. "Ain't nobody got time for that." However, I've discovered that you can make fun lunches with minimal time and money. 
Making bento boxes relaxes me. It's a way to be creative at the end of a busy day, and it's fun to open your lunch and bask in your creativity. The recipes you find on this blog may not always be super healthy. They won't be fancy. They WILL NOT be gluten free. Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about people's food sensitivities and obsessions with what they eat. What you will find here are recipes that are made from leftover dinners, budget friendly shopping lists and ideas for enjoying your lunch for than that meal you have midway through your day. Healthy is a subjective term. If you don't like a recipe, replace it with something you prefer. 
I've created a list to get us started of tips and thoughts I've had in this process. 
1.) You can buy all kinds of styles of bento boxes. There really isn't a "best" brand or style. Just choose one that you like. I have two bento boxes, so that one can be in the dishwasher and one can be used the next day.
2.) Bento boxes are GREAT for portion control. There is only so much food you can fit in them. This will force you to pick and choose. You'll find that you will eventually choose the healthier items that fill you up and ditching the sweets etc. that taste good, but won't get you through the rest of the day.
3.) Don't worry about being an artist. Your bento boxes may not look like the pictures you find on Pintrest, but if you got creative and had a nice time, who gives a shit? 
4.) Amazon is a great place to find inexpensive bento accessories. The accessories are NOT required, but they do add to the experiences and some can be helpful (mostly the condiment bottles and compartment dividers). 
5.) I do a lot of my grocery shopping at Aldi. I get quality groceries for a quarter of the cost of Whole Foods. If you haven't shopped at Aldi, you need to try it out. I will provide grocery lists of items you can try weekly.
6.) Stock up on items at the grocery store when they go on sale! Pre-make items and freeze them. Substitute items in recipes. Do anything you need to to save money, time and to better enjoy your meals. 
Okay, I'm sure I missed a lot, but at least we have the scaffolding started. Tonight, we will be making our first bento box and I will post the first grocery list. Have fun!