Out of the box. 6 more bento ideas!

I just loooove Autumn in Melbourne. The weather is lovely and mild, yet it’s warm enough to enjoy salads and light bento dinners without everything wilting, ourselves included.
I guest posted over at Simple Provisions a couple of weeks ago, sharing one of our favourite meals for this time of year, Teriyaki Beef Donburi (photo below); thinly-sliced beef fillet, fresh asparagus and avocado on a bed of sticky sushi rice and black quinoa. A portion of the beef and rice is reserved as planned-overs for a batch of Teriyaki beef and asparagus sushi rolls. Have a look at the recipes (if you like!) and while you’re there have a meander around Amelia’s inspirational blog. She has impeccable foodie credentials, having worked for the queen (Martha!), she’s a beautiful writer and photographer, and she celebrates the art of simple yet joyful cooking with seasonal ingredients.
My featured Teriyaki beef and asparagus sushi rolls make a regular appearance in our school and work lunchboxes. That’s them below, along with a round-up of weekend lunches and light dinners we’ve enjoyed over the past few months, served up obento-style in segmented lunchboxes. All the recipes are on the blog (links provided).
I’m signing off this post with a pic of my boys and their buddies at the seaside after school; probably our last beach date for a while. Time to bring out the cardies!
PS. I often post lunch ideas such as these on the 1=2 Facebook page, and they don’t always make it to the blog, so do follow me there if you’d like to!
PS2. If you’d like even more lunch inspiration, check out my last obento post, with 6 more combinations, here. You should also go visit Anna the Red and her incredible Kyaraben (character bento) gallery, featuring Where the wild things are, Spirited away and Totoro.
PS3. ‘Obento’ or ‘bento’? Good question! The two Japanese words are interchangeable, although obento is the honorific term.

Teriyaki beef rice bowl. One equals TwoBento box ideas 1-3. Via One Equals TwoBento box ideas 4-6. Via One Equals Two

OBENTO 1: Teriyaki beef sushi rolls
Teriyaki beef and asparagus sushi rolls (from my guest post on Simple Provisions)
Cucumber and chilli salad

OBENTO 2: Roast eggplant, farro and chickpea layered salad with tahini sauce
Roast eggplant, farro and chickpea layered salad
Tahini sauce

Beetroot and pine nut hummus
Mini pitas with sesame seeds
I copied these little pitas from my local Middle Eastern take-away, and they’re so good with dip! Use my wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough recipe to make mini pizzas. Cut little rounds of dough; about 7cm (2¾”) in diameter, and 5mm (¼”) thick. A full quantity of dough will yield 30 mini pizzas (you can make a half serve if preferred). Brush lightly with olive oil, coat with sesame seeds and bake at 220°C (425ºF) for 8–10 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!

OBENTO 3: Scotch eggs
Scotch egg, halved
Pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa)
Wholegrain bread, buttered
Scotch eggs are lovely served hot or at room temperature, with a good dollop of tomato relish or mustard.

OBENTO 4: Falafel
Falafel with farro and chickpeas
Fresh Turkish bread, split
Kid-friendly hummus
Tomato and cucumber salad
These falafel are super quick to prepare as they’re made from a planned-over portion of the salad shown in OBENTO 1.

OBENTO 5: Corned beef roll with egg and potato salad
Corned beef, in a roll with Swiss cheese and wholegrain mustard
2 large pickles
Egg and potato salad
Home-cooked corned beef is surprisingly easy to make and the leftovers are beautiful served up in a crunchy roll for lunch, or stirred through potato hash for brekkie.

OBENTO 6: Udon noodle, spinach and sesame salad
Udon noodle, spinach and sesame salad
Edamame, podded
Blanched asparagus spears, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds
This is one of our favourite salads, and planned-overs can be set aside for crab noodle fritters! Podded edamame beans are available frozen from large Asian food stores.


42 thoughts on “Out of the box. 6 more bento ideas!

    • Thanks! Dedy, of all the words to describe you ‘lazy’ would not be one of them. I’m constantly amazed by what you accomplish in the kitchen, whilst studying full-time!

  1. Sas, I honestly think that your blog represents perpetual springtime in food blogging – it’s always fresh, beautiful and inspiring over here! I just don’t have your energy for innovating with food day in and day out, and when I need a boost, your blog is the first place I go. These bento boxes look totally awesome, and I just love the recipes here. Promise you’ll do this for as long as I need to prepare meals for anyone! 🙂

    • You say the nicest things df. Thanks SO, so much! 🙂
      Melbourne’s weather has turned recently though – be prepared for brown things on the blog soon. Have been slow-cooking, souping and stewing my derriere off lately!

  2. Hi!
    I very happily stumbled across to your blog from Simple Provisions (that I also happily stumbled across just moments before that). Anyway, I made your Beef Donburi (and sushi the next day) and I was THRILLED. Not only was it delicious and easy, I learnt in 20 minutes how to make sushi rice. The whole process was complete in just over 30 minutes (a winner in my eyes!). And the concept is so clever – who wants to eat the same thing the next day necessarily. I love the simplicity and the inventiveness. I also showed a girlfriend after raving about it and she loves the concept too.
    Thanks for sharing – I’m looking forward to checking out your blog and seeing what else I can give a go.
    Liz 🙂

    • Liz, thank you so, SO much for your lovely comment. You’ve made my day! Thanks for taking the time to give feedback, and I’m so thrilled you loved the donburi. It’s amazing how easy sushi rice is to whip up, and the more you do it, you’ll find you can do it with your eyes closed.
      Thanks again Liz 🙂

  3. Love your bento lunchbox ideas, what a healthy and delicious looking lunch. I really need to get organised and start making up some of these for my lunches! Am enjoying the cooler weather, too! Yay for Autumn!

  4. Sas, you are truly an inspiration…. i don’t know how you do it. Stuck in a rut of PB or honey sandwiches with my kids at the mo….my, they are going to get a shock next week!

    • Ha! Thanks Rosa. My kids do get LOTS of sandwiches too. In a pie-chart of our weekday lunches, only a small sliver would be devoted to fanciness. Having said that, the sushi is SO easy to whip up in the morning. We seriously had the sticky quinoa rice and teriyaki dish for dinner tonight (with salmon instead of beef*). I now have a big container of the rice/quinoa in the fridge for Monday morning (it keeps well for 2 days), and I’ll make good old tuna/mayo/avo handrolls for all of us.
      * This is one of my 6-year old’s favourite dinners! Pan-fry the salmon on both sides until almost cooked, then drizzle with a half serve of the teriyaki sauce and simmer until sticky. Serve on the rice/quinoa with avocado, snipped nori, carrot sticks and sesame seeds.
      Woops, that was a mini blog post sized response! Hope you’re still awake!

    • Thanks Cass! I’m always famished by 5pm too. If I meet friends for dinner I always have a 5pm snack beforehand. I’d faint right there on the restaurant floor from hunger otherwise.

  5. What lucky kids you have! These bento boxes are great, Saskia. How creative! What I like best is how fresh and colorful they are, helping to ensure that your kids eat their lunch and not trade them away, like we often did. 🙂

    • Thanks so much John! These were mainly weekend lunches and picnic dinners. The sushi and corned beef are often carted to school though (sliced corned beef freezes really well). I always feel like good mummy sending sushi in the boy’s lunchboxes; although I must admit by the end of the week good old vegemite usually makes an appearance. Yes, lots of trading when I was at school too – actually I remember the Italian kids always had the best lunches. I’m guessing yours must’ve been pretty trade-worthy!

  6. Can not top these bento ideas Saskia. What effort and grace you have applied to lunches. Super impressive. I work in a private elementary school and it is always fun to visit the lunch room and see what the little children have in their boxes. Just today I was impressed with the variety of bento style lunches the kids were enjoying. Mostly impressed that they were actually eating and enjoying such unique foods. Must of been fun to guest post for Simple Provisions. A lovely blog indeed.

    • Oh thanks so much for your lovely words. I love having a sneaky peek at what the other kids have in their lunchboxes too. My favourite school lunch as a child was peanut butter and grated carrot sandwiches. Still love them! It was great fun guesting at Simple Provisions. I love Amelia’s blog, and have never guest posted before so it was quite nerve-wracking!

  7. I’m also putting my hand up to be adopted by you. Failing that, can I hire you to feed me lunches (or maybe just, like, every meal?)? Thank you for the lovely words about Simple Provisions. The way you approach food is truly inspirational!

    • Oh dear, we may need to add an extension to the house! Would love to feed you lunches Amelia, but only in exchange for some of yours! Hey, wouldn’t a food bloggers bartering day be fun?
      Right back at ya! Love the way YOU approach food – thanks again for the opportunity to guest post with you, and for the lovely intro.

  8. WOW! What a amazing post… I’ve tried to figure out which bento lunchbox I would like to have… trust me… it’s too hard do the right choice here… everything is amazing! Photos include, I’m going to pin them all!

  9. Wonderful post Saskia. I have got onto that groundhog day rut with lunches, now I feel quite inspired. I haven’t made Scotch eggs for so so long, definitely a dish to revisit!

  10. Not only are the bento boxes to die for but your kids have just fab palettes (Ahem! I have not done so well there.) and I seriously second the idea of being another one of your kids- I will work on my shoe laces (promise!!)

    • Ha. Thanks Fran. Yeah, pretty lucky the boys are good eaters. I must admit that all the bentos shown are the grown-ups versions though – my leafy garnishes are mostly picked over by the boys! I’m sure your clan would love the sushi and falafel – can’t go wrong there. And the salad in number 6 is enjoyed by all. We had it last week in fact. Rather nice I must say!

  11. This is a gorgeous post Saskia! Ah, I need to get me one of those bento lunchboxes. I do often bring a few things to work but they’re often all in separate containers so I look like the greediest person on the planet!! Love the look of all of these, but particularly the falafel roll and the farro salad. Absolutely drool worthy, nutritious and transportable. YUM. I need to say it again. YUM! x

    • Thanks so much for the big YUM Laura. The falafel and farro salad are definitely two of my faves too. The salad is a great one to cart to work. Bento boxes are ace – much easier than unwieldy tupperware, stacked tetris-style!

    • Thanks Julie! Lunch-making can so easily become Groundhog Day. This post is partly a reminder for my own benefit, for those days when I can’t face another tin of tuna or jar of PB!

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