Welcome to the 5th and final week of the Getting Started Bento Challenge!
Where did the time go? For me, the Challenge weeks have just flown by!
Since this is the last week, the focus is on: Putting it all together, and moving forward.
A special focus throughout the Challenge was on using bentos for losing weight.
I thought that I was a fairly experience hand at making bentos. Still, I have learned a lot about my own bento making habits and what I have to work on during this Challenge.
For me, I discovered that I was not really taking into account the food preferences of the person that I was making bentos for other than myself (The Guy). Since he is not a picky eater and basically gobbles up everything that I make without complaint, I wasn’t really aware until last week that he really loves stuff like chicken wings in his bento. So, going forward I am going to try put in more of his favorites in our daily bentos.
Is there any area of focus that was a stumbling block for you? Perhaps it’s the planning-ahead aspect, or mise en place (putting your gear out ready to make bento). Or maybe you have trouble making your bentos as healthy and well-balanced, or as low-calorie as you like. Or, are you buying a lot of stuff (e.g. prepared foods, snacks) especially for your bento lunches, and not saving enough money? This is the time to try to work out those kinks in your bento making routine.
If it has been a struggle to keep up with the Challenges, try to figure out why that is.
There’s no way around the fact that making bentos daily is extra work for most people, unless it becomes a hobby for you, as it is for many charben artists for example. Me, for the most part I mostly prefer to express my artistic side in other ways. What makes that work all worthwhile for me, is the money-saving, the health benefits, and just the fact of having a tasty lunch that I know the contents and calorie count of waiting for me every day.
So ask yourself: What makes bentos worthwhile for you? When the routine gets boring or difficult, it’s good to remind yourself of those benefits.
The last week to do the following!
One thing that I find to be just about essential in quick, varied bentos on a daily basis is building up a stash of prepared foods, called johbisai. I have explained the concept of johbisai or staples in detail here . If you haven’t started a bento stash already, consider starting one this week. For instance:
There are plenty of ideas for bento staple items in the johbisai section of the site .
What are your favorite staples, both storebought and homemade?
For bento-dieters, this is the week to review your progress. Have you lost some weight? If you have, congratulations and keep it up! If not, why do you think that is? Perhaps your bentos were higher in calories than you intended. Or, maybe you were focusing too much on a healthy bento and forgetting to manage your other meals? Maybe you need more exercise?
If you find you really love bentos, consider extending the bento concept to other meals, especially dinner. The very fact that a dimensions and capacity of a bento box is so finite can really help with portion control. If you are making dinner and eating it right away, there is no need to let it cool and so on as you have to with a lunchtime bento; just put your dinner in a bento box and eat it right away.
Another interesting exercise is to take your normal dinner portion that you are eating spread out on a plate or several plates, and try packing it into a bento just to see how much you are really eating. You might be surprised!
Basic: Take a look back, and see how you can keep up what you have learned.
Going Deeper: Work on your bento stash!
Weight Loss: Review your progress. See what you can improve. Bentos for dinner?
Let’s get to the finish line together!
What are your goals for and thoughts about this week’s Challenge? Talk about it in the forum !
Wow, where did the time go? At the beginning of the Challenge, I was a little worried that 5 weeks was a bit too long. But now that it’s over, it was almost too short!
Although I was nominally the leader of this challenge, I learned a lot of things myself. And I’m so happy to see, from the posts in the forum as well as what people have been writing on their blogs, that it’s gotten a lot of people into the bento making habit. All in all, I think it was a great success!
So, to look at the bentos I made this week first:
Day 1 was a bit uninspired, though tasty: leftover and reheated chicken and vegetable stir-fry, rice, and Chinese cabbage that had been massaged with salt (in the same way as this fennel salad .)
Day 2, Tuesday, was better. The very quick chicken skewers  were so tasty, and although they are imported, I really enjoyed having asparagus again for the first time in months. This bento is described in more detail as Bento no. 63 .
For Day 3, I assembled a sandwich with the miso marinated eggs  I’d made on Sunday, with the middle-stalk parts of the asparagus leftover from Tuesday. Delicious!
On Day 4, I made a vegan bento with mochi-tofu (yes I need to post this recipe!), a simple stir-fry, more of that Chinese cabbage (it lasts for a few days), and rice mixed with frozen green peas and carrot bits.
And on Day 5, I finished up my week and the Challenge with some of my favorite things: shrimp tatsuta-age (I’ll post this recipe soon), miso egg, orange juice carrots , asparagus again. And rice with homemade gomashio .
How was Week 5, and the Challenge in general, for you? Share your thoughts in the forum .