How Just Bento is organized, and finding your way around
I have noticed a lot of new visitors coming to Just Bento lately, so now is a good a time as ever to explain how the site is organized.
If you just want to go straight to an overview of everything that's on Just Bento, try the Sitemap.
Articles on Just Bento are divided into various areas
- __Get Started__ is an intro into bento making. If this is all new to you, you may want to skim through the articles there.
- Bento basics is a how-to section that explains various aspects of the bento making lifestyle.
- An important tool I use to keep myself organized is a weekly meal planner. There are two versions available: the simple Weekly Bento Planner, and the more comprehensive Weekly Menu Planner. Both are free printable downloads.
Complete bentos show you assembled bento boxes, with an explanation of the contents, a calorie count, and often a timeline for how to assemble it. Each complete bento either lists the recipes for the contents, or if the recipes are more involved, link to the recipe pages.
Recipes are just that, recipes for individual components that go into a bento box. I've broadly divided the recipes into three types:
- Mains (proteins and carbs) - the stars of your bento box.
- Sides and fillers (mainly vegetables) - to fill up your bento and add to it nutritionally.
- Staples or johbisai: Items that can be made in advance and stocked in the freezer, refrigerator or pantry. This includes both mains and sides, as well as supplementary things like furikake.
You can also start at the Recipe Index page. From there you can go directly to individual articles, or click on various categories, such as Japanese recipes, Not Japanese recipes, vegan recipes, egg recipes, and so on.
Besides all of the above, you'll find product reviews and various musings on bento!
The core philosophy
The three articles below are at the core of my bento-making thinking, and are the reasons why I make bento for myself and my other half:
- How bento lunches helped me lose 30 lbs
- Why bento if you work at home?
- Bento for your spirit and body
A bit about the recipes on Just Bento
All of the recipes presented on Just Bento are bento or lunchbox friendly!
Just Bento is the little sister of Just Hungry, a general food blog/site that is mainly (though not exclusively) focused on Japanese cooking. For this reason, a lot of the recipes and bentos on Just Bento are Japanese too - after all, it is a Japanese tradition, and I (Maki) am Japanese! However you'll find plenty of non-Japanese recipes, bentos that are not based on rice, and so on here too. Even with the Japanese recipes, I try to stay away from ones that use ingredients that are too exotic or impossible to get a hold of outside of Japan. I currently live in the middle of Europe in a country (Switzerland) with only a very small expat Japanese community, so I know how difficult it can be to buy some things that are taken for granted in Japan, or regions of the world like California or Hawaii where Japanese groceries are plentiful.
I'm an omnivore, but in recent years I've become more interested in vegetarian and vegan eating (see 75% vegetarian), so there are also several vegan/vegetarian recipes and bentos. I like to alternate my bentos between meat-based ones and vegetarian/vegan ones.
Finally, since I don't have kids and only make bentos every day for 2 adults, the site is more focused on bentos for adults, but I have a great advisor in my sister (who has 2 small kids), not to mention my mother, so you should find many healthy, tasty and kid-friendly recipes too.
What recipes go on Just Bento, and what on Just Hungry?
Since Just Bento just started in October of 2007, there are several bento-friendly recipes over on Just Hungry that were posted prior to that date. Just Hungry is also where you will find some basic, foundation type recipes and how-tos, such as how to cook Japanese style rice and sushi rice. If you are interested in Japanese cooking as well as bentos, you might want to follow both sites.
The two requirements for any recipe posted on Just Bento (excluding the forums, where there are separate sections for Bento Recipes and General Recipes) is that it has to taste great, and it has to be suitable for bento. Furthermore, most recipes are on the healthy and low-calorie side too! (There are a few exceptions for often-requested favorites and such.)
New to the site: Just Bento Forums
The Just Bento Community Forum is where we discuss everything bento-related, and some non-bento related things too. It's a busy and friendly place - check it out!
The Search box searches both Just Bento and Just Hungry
Just Hungry is Just Bento's big sister; it's now nearly 5 years old, and has lots of information of interest to bento makers. For this reason, the search box you see on every page on the left sidebar searches both Just Bento and Just Hungry at the same time. Chances are I've already written about a subject you're interested in when it comes to Japanese cooking, so try the search and see if it's there!
I am always open to suggestions, so please don't hesitate to leave a comment or contact me.
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