Yes, The Guy Does Bento is back doing bento! This one is based on the hearty meatball and vegetable soup that I posted yesterday. The soup is a meal unto itself really, but it’s been made even more filling and substantial in this set that uses a thermal bento set.
Here’s the whole thing: the soup, about half a cup of rice (got to watch those carbs/calories!) with a little gomashio (sesame salt) sprinkled on top, and sauteed broccoli made from leftover steamed broccoli. I don’t have a recipe for the broccoli but it’s dead easy: just precooked broccoli (you could also use frozen broccoli) sauteed in a little olive oil with chopped garlic and a sprinkle of dried red chili peppers.
As you can see, the soup is actually in two containers. The reason for this is that a standard Japanese thermal bento set usually comes with a small container for soup, plus a larger one for rice, both of which can be kept warm. (The largest container is for rice since originally, these thermal bento sets were intended for use by people with hearty appetites who wanted to eat a lot of rice!) Both have tight fitting lids, but the soup one is really leakproof, so we put more liquid in that one, and the solid parts in the rice container. The hot liquid can be poured over the solid parts, or they can be enjoyed as two courses.
Here is the thermal bento set that was used. As you can see it has two thermal containers (for the rice and soup) plus 3 non-thermal side containers. Just 2 of the 3 side containers were used here, but you could put some fruit or something in that, or another vegetable dish perhaps. (The empty container was packed in too just to keep the filled containers from shifting in transit.)
There is a detailed description of this particular bento set in my overview of thermal bento sets and lunch jars; it’s the second one described. (J-List has 1 in stock, and similar ones are available in many designs; see Bento&co or J-List for example.) A standard Mr. Bento will work too.
Up until now The Guy bentos haven’t put much thought into calorie totals! But now that The Guy is watching his waistline with an eagle eye, I’ll put in an approximate calorie count for reference. (It’s a bit harder to be precise with The Guy bentos, since I don’t pack them myself of course.) This bento is around 600 calories: 350 for the soup (there’s 5 meatballs in there), 100 for the broccoli (a bit generous on the oil), plus 150 for 3/4 cup of cooked rice. Not bad for a very filling lunch. You could shave off more calories by having plain steamed broccoli and still be very satisfied.
Both the soup and broccoli are planned leftovers from dinner the night before. Making planned leftovers (that just means making a bit extra) saves so much time.
For this bento, the total prep time in the morning is about 10 minutes: to heat up the soup and the thermal container, defrost some rice and pack it, plus sauté the broccoli. The Guy did cheat a bit on the broccoli and use a chopped-garlic-in-oil mix we have in the fridge. He used two burners, the microwave for heating up the pre-frozen leftover rice, plus an electric kettle, one of our essential bento making supplies.
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