Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

It’s that time of year again! Today is December 30th, and this year New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day take place conveniently (or not, depending on your perspective) take place over the weekend. You can give yourself up totally to partying or whatever you usually do on those days, and start the New Year on a day when most of us kick off a new week anyway.

Since I like to get a headstart on a brand new year, I always start thinking about the things I want to accomplish during the year in the waning days of the old one. I made a few resolutions for 2011 at the end of last year, and well…I didn’t get to do a whole lot of them. My year was dominated by three things: the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, my continuous health problems, and late in the year my sudden though not totally unexpected father’s passing. The first event totally changed my plans for my spring trip to Japan; instead of doing things normal, fun things like the long ekiben - eating train voyage around the country I was originally intending, I spent a lot of time talking to people about the aftermath of that terrible event (you can see some of the related articles on Just Hungry, as well as on the Japan Times, BlogHer and so on). And once I got back home in June, my health problems started to take over, and I got the “C” diagnosis. And just when I thought the worst was over, literally as soon as I got home after my hysterectomy surgery, I got the news that my father had died.

2011 was “my” year in a way, as I explained last year - it was the Year of the Rabbit, and I am a toshi-onna (a woman born in the year of that particular animal sign). There is a superstition that good things tend not to happen in “your” year, and I guess that was kind of the case for me this year! What a bummer. But maybe 2012, the Year of the Dragon, will bring new energy and better karma.

But anyway, back to bentos and resolutions! For 2012 my top priority is getting my body healthy again. And you can be sure that bentos will play a big part in that. I never really thought that I ate unhealthily on a regular basis - I rarely go out to eat a fast-food places and such, and most of our meals are cooked at home. But I can do a lot better, for myself and for The Guy. When you get seriously sick, you really realize just how important, and how fragile, the state of your body is for simple day to day happiness. So more than ever, the bentos around here will have a health focus - with plenty of fun thrown in too of course!

The one great thing that happened this year to me was the success of The Just Bento Cookbook. I thought it might do well, given all the wonderful people (that’s you!) who support this site so enthusiastically, but I didn’t anticipate it doing so well that it’s gone to 5 printings in just one year, despite being out of print briefly due to some shuffling of publishing companies and such. And now I’m thinking out loud, but…is there anything I didn’t manage to cover in that book bento-wise, that needs to be? Hmm…we’ll see. ^_^

So what about you? Are you already thinking ahead to 2012 too? Please share your resolutions, bento related or not! And let’s ring out this year in grace and style.

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

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Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Firstly - hope you get better soon. May 2012 be a year of hope, peace, and health.

My bento resolution? To get more creative, and continue getting more organized and efficient at packing my daughter's bento. I fortunately have "back up" items that I have on hand, but would like to start adding more variation, while maintaining focus on healthy, colorful, and appealing items. I look at what I pack for my daughter, and sometimes I realize I might be simply falling into a rut of repetition. It's quite easy, when I'm sandwiched between work, house chores and bento. I feel I have a small window of packing bentos before my daughter might start asking for more "normal" lunches (e.g. sandwiches) when she gets older - but then again, I might be lucky, and she might want to stick with bentos. Maybe more focus with seasonal and creative use of ingredients as well.

I grew up in the US all my life - my elementary years were at an international school where everyone packed awesome lunches reflective of their cultural background. I then went to Japanese school (all week) for 3 years - and then transferred to an American public HS. I enjoyed my mom's bento until I hit high school... I wonder how my girls will react?
Best wishes for a quick recovery. I find your blogs inspirational.

Your fan out in L.I., NY. :)

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Before I know it I'll be finished my first year at university and I'll no longer be on their meal plan (yay, I'm so sick of cafeteria food!), and that means it will be time to start making bentos again.
My bento resolution will be to regularly make bentos for myself - and work out how to do the things I've been failing at with bentos. For instance, so far nothing I've frozen has turned out very well afterwards, so I plan to work on that and figure out what I've been doing wrong. One of the reasons I used to slack on bentos was because I felt it was a lot of work making one from start to finish, and having frozen stuff on hand would really help.
I also want to try some more adventurous things next year! So far I've been sticking to simpler things, but I'm going to try and challenge myself some more.

Happy new year Maki and everyone else! I hope 2012 treats you better, Maki, and I look forward to seeing the articles and recipes you post next year!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

My resolution is to make lunch enjoyable again. I create beautiful dinners on an almost-daily basis, but have never developed the art of treating myself to something healthy and beautiful at lunch. I consider myself a foodie, so why do I make utilitarian sandwich-and-crudites lunches day after day?

Thank you to your website, and the impending arrival of your book (yay amazon.ca), I am hoping to be inspired to make delicious lunches, and only to have a sandwich and veggies if that's really what I feel like, not just what has to be.

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I just started a new job working graveyard shifts. Last time I worked a shift like that I found that without careful planning my eating ballooned and I gained a lot of weight. This time I am going to plan and am going to use bentos to help make better choices. I plan on making a couple bentos a day so that I have two meals for me that are always ready. That avoids the temptation of drive thrus and junk food.

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

First off Maki, I hope 2012 is a great year for you and that you're back in tip-top form (as my late Father always used to tell us)!

My biggest resolution is to each much better for the entire year. I started off 2011 doing very well and then sometime around the middle of the year, I just seemed to lose interest. There was some crud going on at work that oozed into my personal life and really affected me but, I've finally put that behind me.

I've got some great new bento containers, I have your cookbook and 2012 will be an awesome year foodwise!

BTW, thanks for posting the recipe for Spaghetti Naporitan. I found it on your side and remember fondly this one time when I was living in Kyushu (being 6'2" with lots of body hair and a rather prominent nose, I was the gaijin to end all gaijins) and was invited to dinner by someone I knew. His mother was SO excited to have "the gaijin" visiting that she made me an "American dish"...guess what it was...

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Well, after reading that, I resolve to have a great 2012 despite it being MY year. Love the idea of being a dragon. Also, thanks to this site, I now have a really good stainless steel obento for my husband. He is Japanese but until i got this particular box, he has refused a bento. And coincidentally, he eats a lot of fatty, unhealthy conbeni food for lunch and is getting pretty heavy so thanks, Maki and The Guy. My resolution is to keep myself organized and my guy healthy with your bento recipes.

I am grateful for your websites and happy to have found you by chance not through these, but through your tweets last Spring. You provided a lot of great info and general comfort at that time.

開けましておめでとうございます to Maki, The Guy, and all who take the time to read through these. Now back to Kōhaku and my wine cooler;)

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Best wishes for you in 2012!
My bento resolution is to make them for each member of my family, including myself. I have a food struggle and often don't manage to eat lunch.
I got your book for Christmas and have already enjoyed some of the recipes!!! I never could get rice cooked properly but since using your methods, I have managed to cook some awesome rice. The mini hamburgers were a huge hit too.
Thanks for everything!!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

My resolution is the same as yours: getting my body healthy again. You see, earlier this year I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. In fact, that's how I found your website, searching for new diabetic-friendly tofu recipes. So many sauces are sugary! BTW, the freeze-dried tofu nuggets were very tasty. It's not like I ate poorly before, but I definitely was a little too carb-focused. What can I say? I love rice! Since I tend towards vegetarianism (though I am not one), some of my protein sources also had a carb component. This complicates the matter. After a few months of playing around with what I usually eat, I finally settled on better proportions of protein:carb:veggie for my meals. Now I'm looking to make them more interesting and varied. Since I already like bentos in restaurants and I like variety, I thought starting a tradition of bento lunches in 2012 would go a long way towards achieving my goal. Hell, I'm half way there on my work lunches already just out of my previous habits. I know you've mentioned that you've been diagnosed with the same disease, so I look forward to future posts on how you are handling low-carb eating. I would greatly appreciate it if you tagged more diabetic-friendly recipes with a low-carb tag.

I've made a few lunches from your blog and your book and a bento box (Merry Yule to me!) is on the way.

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I'm going Vegan this year! I plan to veganize my hubby's bento too....here's a happy, healthy new year!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

MY 2012 bento resolution is to start packing bentos for my husband to take to work, and for our lunches at home. Right now home lunches are haphazard affairs at best, and dasHusband eats mostly at the cafeteria at the hospital.

My copy of Just Bento was a lucky find at the bookshop!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I want to be a more thoughtful person, kinder and more compassionate this coming year. And that will take a lot of work! I also want to get back into shape. This 2011 has been kind of sluggish for me. :Op

And towards that end, I will also eat more bentos, to eat less and take care of my body. Your bentos are inspiring and I love the calorie count that accompanies them. As I get healthier then I will have more energy to be more physically active.

I would like to eat vegetarian at least once a day. We've reduced our meat intake considerably and have no plans to be vegetarian just a more plant based diet.

:O) Maki may you have health and happiness and much success in the New Year!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I have just started out with my first bento box. My resolution is to make a bento at least three times a week to start with increasing it to every work day.

I found my love of bento from you. Thank you so much!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Mine are:
#1 - "move" more (as "exercise" sounds so unpleasant)
#2 - eat more fruit & veg
Both are sort of related to my own health problems this year, turns out my immune system was (is) in very bad shape. So I hope #2 will help me build it back up again. And because I had to spend months on the couch resting I also ended up gaining some weight, so as soon as the doctor gives me the green light I'll start with fitness classes again.

I'm also sure for #2 to happen I'll have to start bringing bentos to work again.

Here's to a happy 2012, and to good health for us both Maki :)

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I love these ideas! I definitely want to cook more and be healthier this year! I need to learn to set a plan for my resolutions and keep them as well...this other article I found seems like it will be pretty helpful > http://www.skinnyscoop.com/list/larissa/best-ideas-tips-for-your-2012-re...

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Happy New Year! I hope you are blessed with good health this year. I feel like this year will bring many big decision and therefore changes with it. I hope everything works out in the end!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

May 2012 treat you more kindly!

My resolution is to actually learn how to cook for one person. While I can cook quite well for a family, I'm out on my own now and most of my mom's receipes don't freeze well...and I hate eating the same thing all week. By learning to do that, I'm hoping to break out of the rut I've gotten into, bento-wise.

The difficulty, of couse, is that my work practically demands I be in the office for 9+ hours a day, leaving little time (or energy) for cooking when I get home.

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Hope that 2012 is a much better year for you!

Ive just discovered Bento while chatting with a friend. We are planning to go on a trip to Japan next year :D

My resolutions are to get fit and eat better, including actually cooking, and Bento Box's are so damn cute so im going to give them a try :) wasnt able to find your book in our shops here in Aus but im about to order it through the book depository.
Happy New Year!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I'm a little late, but Happy New Year's!
I'd like to say I've been following this site for a while now and I was intrigued by your pretty colorful bentos. Being a teenager, its hard finding hobbies that I'm not criticized about, especially from my parents; They claim it's too childish, or some other reason. I've recently taken up cooking, and I absolutely love it. I've joined the cooking club at my high school and help my mother make dinner as much as I can. My mother agreed on getting me a bento for Christmas, since I've been interested for sometime, and I made my first lunch today. My friends were just as excited as I was; They all swarmed around me, looking at my "funny little lunch box". Not only that, but it was delicious! And so much food fit into it, I had to share with my friends. I had so much fun making onigiri and tamagoyaki. My friend was also going to get a bento from the money she received, but backed out at the last moment. She saw my lunch today, and she said she's definitely going to save up now.
So thank you for the wonderful recipes and a great experience that I had today.

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

My initial 2012 resolution was to start cooking more things from scratch. I've been making excuses ever since I moved out on my own to not make even the simplest things. Then, my mother-in-law bought us bento boxes as a wedding present, and I started thinking about ways to spin them so I'm eating healthy foods and my husband is eating well. It didn't help that I've had a hankering for onigiri for months. Google took me to Just Hungry, which brought me here!
I have a... well, let's just go say a "unique" set of allergies. Pre-made foods tend to trigger a lot of them. Rather than scouring ingredients lists on campus or at work, I'll be able to rest easily knowing exactly what is in my food.
Amended 2012 resolution: explore Japanese cooking, as well as returning to good home-cooked meals, for the sake of my health.
I'm also a Rabbit, and 2011 was not the best year. To better times, and better health!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Hi, Maki!

I've been following your blogs for about six months now, and thanks to you, I am in love with bento. My boyfriend thought it was just a funny little kick I was on at first, but this Christmas he bought me a beautiful bento and some supplies, too! Like most people, my resolutions are mainly health related: I plan to eat more nutritiously and simply, eat breakfast every morning, and use bento to help me lose weight, and also to help my skinny boyfriend gain weight!

Thank you for your blog - it is so full of interesting information, pictures, recipes and your wonderful wit and wisdom. I always look forward to reading new entries, and I wish you all the best this year!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

My resolution is too keep track of my budget ! I need to know and control where my money goes, instead of just spending it and checking my bank account to see what's left... So I bought a beautiful kakebo : it might not be the best symbol of a frugal year, but I hope it will motivate me to keep notes of everything, something that Excel failed to do!

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I tend to avoid resolutions, but this year, I did make a promise to myself: now that I'm a bit healthier, I want to get back to eating healthy like I was early last year.
This is definitely going to involve Bento Boxes, because I had such success with them before, and they make it so much fun to eat healthy foods.
I'd like to get better at packing and arranging the food in the boxes, and finding interesting food to put in them.

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I have no real Bento resolution this year. Last year I resolved to change my eating habits and lose some dangerous weight, no more fast food and 95% of my meals came from my kitchen. This year I am pleased to report that I have kept my resolution. I have taken my lunch to work 95% of the time (When the salad greens go bad it's time for plan B) fast food has been about 3% of my diet. I have also Lost 60 lbs. I am now meeting military weight standard, something that I have not done since I retired in 2007. While Japanese style bentos were not the main style of bento that I made, but salad bentos and nutrient-dense bentos with veggies and proten were.
If I have a resolution this year it is to continue what I did last year but with a new goal. This year i will Use bento to help save money. The economy hit me really hard the last year, so this year I intend to find ways to save money. This year i will start making things that i would normally buy, and shopping in places that I would normally not. hopefully I will be as successful at this as I was at getting healthy.

Happy New Year
Mike

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

My 2012 bento resolution is to start making bentos!
I just got your book, and I can't wait to start! I love your book! It explains what you have to do very well and it looks like it will help me a lot. I would like to lose a few pounds as well as save money. Also I always bring packed lunches to school, so bentos will be great for me!
The only bad thing is that I'll have to wake up earlier :).

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

I want to start making bentos. I too have a chronic illness, a rare blood disease (not to worry, its not contagious!) and food affects it directly. I have tried to order your book but am having trouble getting a copy. I hope to get it soon. My husband and I got Mr and Ms Bentos for Christmas and I am excited to make something for him.

I hope you see positive changes in the coming year,

Just Me

Re: Getting a headstart on 2012 bento resolutions

Dear Maki
I hope this year goes better for you and that your health improves becomes better with time. Know that those readers who are also with illnesses we have you very much in our thoughts. I always enjoyed reading the justbento and the justhungry over the years off and on I have followed your writings on food since I went online in 2004 . I am recently new to Japanese foods and I have heart failure for a long time. Being ill influences the complete life , the cooking is one of the things I still enjoy. Best wishes to you Maki take care .

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