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I Am More Adventurous: Grownup Reasons to Bento (#3)

This week on Not Exactly Bento, I’m talking about my Top 5 Reasons why Grownups should Bento. Packing a meal for yourself when you’re on the go, busy, or just because is a wonderful way to meet personal health goals and do something special for yourself.  Join me as I talk about the top 5 reasons why I think you should bento.  Each post will feature pictures of bentos, past and present, to show readers how skill level doesn’t matter when packing lunch for yourself. Feedback on why you bento and what works for you is always welcome.

I can’t cook. This is a running joke in my family. I look up the recipe (yes, there is one!) on how to boil an egg each time I need to. I’m always worried I’m going to mess it up…

These are some of the first words I ever wrote for Not Exactly Bento.  I started bento to stop eating out so much and that idea worried me.  I wasn’t a good cook.  I couldn’t boil an egg without instructions.  It was easier to eat out because cooking was so frustrating.  Five years, lots of failures, lots of successes, and many lunches later, I feel more confident.

I Am More Adventurous
This bento includes favorites of dumplings and pasta

Mish Mash Favorites Bento from October 2009

When I first started my bento adventure, I realized, unless I developed my palate, meals would be a repeat of spaghetti, chili, and baked BBQ chicken wings.

This pushed me to try new foods, beginning my “new-to-me” concept on NEB. Food from broccoli to tofu has been tried here, some with more positive outcomes than others.

As I tried new-to-me foods, I began to document what I was trying.  It helped me explore why or why not I liked what I tried.  It helped me discuss and decide if it was something I just didn’t like or if it was something that I just needed to cook a different way.  And discussing those foibles and food adventures with readers helped me realize I wasn’t alone as I tried to break out of a rut.

As I’ve taught myself to cook, I wrote down and shared recipes or techniques to help me remember what I did. It created an archive I could go back and refer to as I struggled with my stove. What I didn’t expect was it to become a tool for others to help them learn to cook. Whenever a reader thanks me for helping them learn to cook, I am a combination of baffled, touched, and speechless. To think that me, who couldn’t boil an egg when I began, could possibly help to teach someone else to cook still seems like such an unlikely idea.

As I’ve become more comfortable with cooking, I began to alter and create recipes.  First to make things more packable for my bento box. Second to recreate a dish I had at a restaurant.  If I can recreate a dish I liked elsewhere and make it packable, I am thrilled.  Feisty Foodie told me something along these lines once, “The way your brain works is so interesting. I think, ‘When can I eat that again?’ And you think, ‘How do I recreate it at home?’ ”

Chili, Fritos, and Cheese for a Chilitos Bento

Chilitos! Bento. Packed in February 2010

I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for bento and a desire to not eat the same three things everyday for lunch, I would still not know how to cook. Green beans and the occasional salad would be a few of the green things on my plate. And my favorite vegetable might still be corn (It’s roasted brussel sprouts now, in case you’re wondering.).

This willingness to be open-minded in one aspect of my life tends to lead to a more open and adventurous attitude in other aspects (Hello, NYC!). Packing a lunch for myself is definitely one of the better decisions I’ve ever made.

I’m not sure if packing a bento for yourself will bring that same sense of adventure to your relationship with food.  I certainly hope it does.  The first step is just to open your mind to new ideas and concepts in food.  Before you know it, you’ll be the bento.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Bento lunches show in this post: Bento 281 and Bento 260

Previous Grownup Reasons to Bento:

Reason #1: I Am Worth It
Reason #2: Bento Saves Me Money


  1. Mom says:

    You are a wonderful cook now. With every other challenge I have seen you take on, once you make up your mind you go after it until you master the task. You can cook for me anytime !!!

  2. Susan says:

    Because of bento I have now tried food like quinoa, cous cous, meatloaf, your scrummy red pepper bites (i really must make those again!) mac n cheese and so on. Bento has opened up a whole world of foods that are reallt new to me. Some easy to find here in Northern Ireland, some not so easy! ;)

    Keep experiementing and keep blogging about it!!!!
    Susan recently posted..Bento giveawayMy Profile

  3. Yvo says:

    Haha, I remember that conversation. It was after you’d eaten somewhere that you told me I’d really enjoy (though I’m having trouble remembering where it was; Houmas House perhaps?). I do find myself thinking more along the lines of your way now though – how can I make this at home, more than “Where else can I get this, and possibly better?” ;)
    Yvo recently posted..CONTEST: Join me at the NYCWFF’s Burger Bash!My Profile

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