"Back to School" bento for kids article in the Japan Times

Hi bento fans! ^_^ I am still alive...and slowly getting healthier and all that.

In any case, I'm here to link to my latest Japan Times column, which is a kind of back-to-basics piece about bentos for small kids, especially ones starting kindergarten or school (since April is the start of the school year in Japan). It may be too basic for bento veterans, but if you are feeling daunted by the whole idea of making bentos every day or so, I hope you'll find it interesting. Here is the link to the article.

There is also a recipe for a kid-friendly soboro. Soboro is such a useful staple to have on hand for bento making (see other soboro recipes on this site, both meaty and vegetarian) and for kid bentos, they are also a handy way to "hide" some vegetables in a way that picky eaters are more likely to eat them. This version is flavored with a little curry (just a bit, not enough to make it hot-spicy) and some ketchup to be especially kid-friendly.

The main photo shows two examples of small bentos that can be made with the soboro. Here's what they contain. The one on the left is rice based:


A bed of rice is topped with about 2 tablespoons of the soboro, plus some scrambled egg (not even iri tamago; it's just plain old scrambled egg flavored with salt and pepper). Then there is some leftover vegetable stir fry with zucchini and carrots and things, some boiled spinach with sesame seeds, and the little sauce container in the middle has a bit of soy sauce for the spinach. Finally there are some clementines in the apple shaped case.

The one on the right is a pasta-based bento:


About 2-3 tablespoons of the soboro is mixed with some fusilli (any kind of short pasta will work). Two pieces of sausage are skewered with the duck-shaped pick. There are 3 cherry tomatoes, some boiled broccoli with some mayo on the bottom to mix in, and some mixed veggies with tiny cheese cubes in the flower shaped cup.

These are two small kid-sized bentos, so should be the right size for a small child (the boxes are about 350-400 ml capacity). After the photo shoot, The Guy gobbled up both. ^_^;

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