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Posted on Apr 13, 2007 | 28 comments

Travel, and speedy meatball lunches

Travel, and speedy meatball lunches

First off, I wanted to let everyone know that Bug and I will be traveling to Philadelphia for a week starting today (4/13/07), so my blog updates will be sporadic during the week. I’ll try to check in and respond to comments, but won’t be as responsive as I usually try to be. Second, thanks to everyone who has voted for this blog in the Blogger’s Choice Awards so far — my goal is to hang around as a non-vegan blog on the top page for a while. Wish me luck! (November 2007 update: Open voting for 2007 has closed with Lunch in a Box in 3th place. Thank you! 2008 voting is here is you’re interested.)

Morning prep time: 10 minutes each. A combination of frozen food, store-bought food, and refrigerator staples made Bug’s quick lunch possible today. The meatballs were store-bought (Aidells teriyaki chicken pineapple) with extra teriyaki sauce, I had a small batch of shaped hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for snacking (more below), and the little rice balls were from the freezer and wrapped with pre-cut nori for maximum speed. Grapes, blackberries and grape tomatoes round out the meal — and I packed a tiny toddler fork for the meatballs (cut in half for Bug).

Speedy meatball lunch for toddler

Earlier this week I made rice to eat with Thai curry at dinner. I only make rice every 10 days or so, so when I do, I make a big batch and freeze the excess as individually wrapped rice balls (see my prior entry on frozen onigiri). I mixed a bowl of medium-grain rice with furikake (rice sprinkles), and popped it into rice ball molds to shape before wrapping and freezing. A quick spin in the microwave brings these back to life.Bug really enjoys the shaped hard-boiled eggs, but I can’t be bothered to make just one in the morning specially for lunch. Instead, I make a batch of 5-6 at once with cheap egg molds that I picked up at a local dollar store (Ichiban Kan, US$1.50 for two), and store them in the refrigerator in the molds. You boil the eggs, peel them while they’re hot, pop them into a mold and throw them into cold water for 10 minutes to take on the shape (Cooking Cute has a tutorial here). If you don’t want to fork over money for a uni-tasker, you can also use ice cream sandwich molds for the same effect, available from Amazon and Williams Sonoma (my tutorial here).

Frozen rice balls Molds for hard-boiled eggs

My lunch is the same as Bug’s, but with larger rice balls and a cheese triangle that Bug seized when he spied it. Maybe one day I’ll be able to eat the cheese triangles that I pack in my lunches…

Speedy meatball lunch

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  1. Those chicken teriyaki meatballs look great! I might have to look into those… its a wonderful alternative for those who dont eat red meat! <3

  2. Hey, where in Philadelphia are you going to be? I live right outside Philly!
    LolaGeek

  3. Hooray, One More Bento Fan is in the house!!! Trekkie, you should check out her pictures on Flickr (bento boxes forum — link is in the column to the left). She’s very creative and an excellent cook.

  4. West Chester area visiting my grandma. I was raised in Swarthmore/Media area for half of my childhood, so it’s very nostalgic for me. :-)

  5. I bought the egg molds at my local Ichibankan the other day too!

    I used XL eggs and when I pressed the top piece down in the mold, some of the egg whites squirted out.

  6. We usually run through a batch of molded eggs in 2 days (Bug loves them). I just keep them in the box and give them a rinse once I unmold them; perhaps someone else can speak to covering them with water. I do know that hard-boiled eggs don’t keep for very long (unlike regular eggs), so it’s best to use them up quickly if you can. I can look up exactly how long they keep once I’m back at home with all of my reference books.

  7. They’ve very tasty! Like tsukune.

  8. But at least the XL totally filled the mold. The L eggs are just a little shy of filling these.

  9. So glad you’re finding a use for them, maggiemagee77!

  10. Ah, I’ll put together a shopping guide in more detail once I’m back in town. For ingredients, I have a few places. If I can’t get the Japanese ingredients I want cheaply at New May Wah Supermarket (Clement St.) or Sunset Supermarket (Irving Ave.), I’ll break down and pay the price at Nijiya Market or Mira in Japantown. For Mexican ingredients, I go to Casa Lucas (24th & Florida in the Mission) and another market around 22nd & Florida. For general produce, either Casa Lucas or 22nd & Irving (excellent Mediterranean produce market with thick bourek dough and other great pantry goods — very cheap). Don’t forget the farmers’ markets for excellent, cheap, seasonal produce — Alemany Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings (get there before 9am for the best selection) has great prices. For Indian, Bombay Bazaar on Valencia. Korean at Kukje (in Daly City off of 280 by the In & Out Burger). Oh, and Battambang (sp?) in the Tenderloin for Thai ingredients — it’s a hole in the wall and in a scary neighborhood, but has truly excellent Thai items that I can’t find elsewhere. And there’s another Middle Eastern market (in addition to Queen of Sheba) near Army on Mission, I think, where I get unusual ingredients and gear (i.e. huge mezze serving platters, 3-foot long flat skewers for kebabs, etc.). There’s a better Middle Eastern market in Berkeley off of University Avenue, but I don’t get out there much.

  11. Thank you so much for that list of shops, I will be checking them out soon! In fact, I’ll go to Casa Lucas today and check it out!

  12. I absolutely love your blog, I’ve been making bento lunches for a while but am always looking for bento-related resources and tips. The freezing methods/time savers you’ve written about are great!

  13. Oh no kidding, that’s totally my neck of the woods! (Of course, I forgot to check for your reply any earlier, so I’m sure any chance of a meetup has long since passed… Not that there’s anything very interesting to meet up for, except maybe the King of Prussia Mall [5 minutes from my house].)
    – LG

  14. I’d go grab a pack for you when I get back, but they were totally out of them last time I was there. They seem to go fast (but eventually they restock).

  15. Sorry to be off on a tangent, but I wanted to share something I found at Publix (Florida/SE US local chain, if you’ve not heard of them).

    http://www.gourmac.com/3nejasetof3.html – they’re resilient small plastic jars, sold in a nesting set of 3. I measured the volume, and they’re 12/24/52ml or thereabouts, although they’re not marked. The smallest one especially is a great bento size.

    (I also found some neat ones at the Container Store, but I’m still looking to see if they’re on-line.)

  16. Those both look great, sff_corgi! The price is right and The Container Store is relatively widespread in the U.S. (especially with an online store — great link!). I’ll throw them onto a list of alternate containers I’m putting together.

  17. [bows deeply] Glad to be of assistance!

  18. Small world!

  19. I am most amused to have just found the Container Store-able items pictured on Ngoc’s page:
    http://www.cookingcute.com/bento_equipment.htm

    There’s the snap-top vials, and the polycarbonate bottle in the upper right is one of theirs, too… just like she mentions.

    Alas! I have been redundant! [/dramatic gesture]

  20. Hey, there’s got to be something to be said for reinventing the wheel, right? ;-)

  21. Yes, that’s me.

  22. Here’s one she didn’t have: McCormick’s Food Coloring bottles! They’re definitely cute, they’re washable and refillable… the only catches are obtaining them and the somewhat insecure caps.

  23. Thanks for the tip! Too bad I just threw one out last month…

  24. Hi – came here via the LJ comm – am getting interested in Bento! Saw that you’re originally from Swarthmore/Media – small world, as I grew up in Broomall, and have lived in Media and West Chester (though now am in Dallas)

    Fascinating blog – am going through it!

    Txvoodoo on LJ

  25. @33 from Lisa:
    Hey, that sounds very familiar! I’ve still got family in West Chester and Kennett Square — small world! Enjoy the blog, and please feel free to ask any questions you like. I try to stay on top of comments even on old entries (although not this weekend — we’ll be camping and out of touch starting tomorrow).

  26. “Bug really enjoys the shaped hard-boiled eggs, but I can’t be bothered to make just one in the morning specially for lunch.”

    If it helps at all, you can make hardboiled eggs in a crock pot/slow cooker. Just drop in the eggs, enough water to cover them, and leave it on low for 3 1/2 hours. Haven’t ever tried shaping them afterward, but I think it wouldn’t be a problem since they do come out hot.