money saving tips

Bento 101 (Getting Into the Bento Making Habit) Part 5: Keeping it going

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Welcome to the last lesson of Bento 101: Getting Into The Bento Habit. In this lesson we’ll talk about the best reasons to get into the bento making lifestyle, and some tips for keeping it going. continue reading...

Speed bento tips from a busy American mom

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This is a guest post by Amy Vander Vorste of Avlor’s Imprints.

Are you sure you don’t have time to plan or pack a lunch? Speed tips are here to the rescue!

Bentos are “the in thing” in lunches right now and for good reason! They provide a great way to pack a nutritious meal while providing reasonable portions.

As an American mom, I was frustrated at what our school was providing as a “healthy” lunch. I love our elementary school, but I don’t have an ounce of affection for the lunch program. I’ll spare you the details - but lunches are 9 times out of 10 full of highly processed food. Milk is also pushed - but not just plain milk. There’s strawberry, chocolate, and cookies-and-cream sweetened versions. Yipes! I hope you find it as humorously ironic as I did that the school district sent home reminders that a pop, chips and a cookie don’t constitute a good lunch.

I want better for my children who need to learn and pay attention in school. Last year my son’s teacher mentioned to me that my son was having troubles paying attention in class. After I started packing nutritious lunches, my son’s attention problems virtually disappeared. Quality food may not be the answer for all attention problems, but it’s helped us tremendously! Squeezing time in to make a lunch is essential for my family.

I wondered how my son would handle taking lunches that are different from the ones his friends have. But he’s enjoying it and even asks to take chopsticks. His quote, “It’s awesome!” There’s positive attention over his lunches (and the chopsticks) from his classmates, and not much of the negative “Eww is that broccoli?” He’s becoming very conscious of what is good for him and what is not. Could a mom be more proud? continue reading...

Ichiban Kan USA to close their online business, but other online bento supply merchants are doing fine

One of the major online sources for bento boxes and other supplies, Ichiban Kan USA, will be closing their mailorder business down as soon as they sell out their existing stock. I contacted some other popular online bento supply sellers to see how they were doing in the current economy, and the good news is that they seem to be doing very well. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 10: Sardines and pine nuts

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I haven’t added a new furikake recipe in a long time. So, it’s about time I did. As I wrote in the first homemade furikake recipe article, the homemade kind has a lot of advantages over the storebought kind.

One of the advantages is cost, and this furikake uses a cheap yet healthy ingredient that’s available to most people, wherever they may live: Canned sardines! A can of about 4 ounces of sardines (120g) or so costs a couple of dollars or euros or whatever at most. And sardines are packed with good nutrients: Omega-3s, protein, calcium, etc.

I’ve attempted to stay away from Japanese ingredients with this one, since I occasonally get complaints from readers that they can’t get a hold of those ingredients. If you can’t get Worcestershire sauce for some reason, use steak sauce or a similar rich, brown sauce. If pine nuts (though this only uses 2 tablespoons) are beyond your means, use sesame seeds or chopped nuts of another kind.

This furikake is good on pasta as well as rice. continue reading...

Keep track of your bento lunch savings in April

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During Frugal Bento Month, I have a simple challenge for you. That is to keep track of how much you save by making and bringing your own lunch instead of buying lunch.

Note that if you’re already making bentos almost daily and you have a good grip on your spending, you may not see the benefits. But if you’re just thinking about making bentos or just starting out, or if you have no idea how much you might be saving, it’s somewhere to start. Or perhaps you can use it to convince your spouse/boy/girlfriend or family about the benefits of bentos. continue reading...

April is Frugal Bento Month on Just Bento

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April is National Financial Awareness Month* in the U.S. And, let’s face it, a lot of us are anxious to some degree about the state of the economy, no matter where we live. So in keeping with this, we’re going to have a Frugal Bento theme for April here on Just Bento, and a Frugal Food theme on Just Hungry. continue reading...

The Cheap Chick makes a frugal bento

This is a guest post by Erin, who writes a frugal lifestyle blog in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, called The Cheap Chick.

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My name is The Cheap Chick, and I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to online bento. It’s shocking, but true. Every day, sometimes two or three times a day, I log on to my favorite site and look at what other people packed that week for their lunches.

However, if there’s a 12-step program to help me stop, I don’t want it. Because not only did Just Bento (and its sister site, Just Hungry,) help change the way I cook and eat for the better, bento fits in perfectly with the ‘be cheap and fabulous’ gospel I’m trying to spread across the globe. What could be thriftier than packing your lunch and using the pantry items and leftovers you already have, rather than buying your lunch every day at a restaurant or fast food joint?

When Maki asked for guest writers for Just Bento, I knew it was time for me to join the world of bento makers. And I promised her I could make a bento that would be frugal, use many of the ingredients I already own or buy on a regular basis, and would look and taste delicious. Here’s how it turned out… continue reading...