This week, I made a vow to cook more and bring lunch. My groceries for the week included a roast chicken, salmon fillets, and some sardines. Yes, sardines. Have you ever had broiled or grilled sardines? Delicious! Well, that was from my trip to Whole Foods last Saturday. It is now Friday evening, and I still have a whole container of shredded chicken, and four lonely sardines in the fridge. I always overshoot in my goals.

But. I did end up cooking! Tuesday AND Wednesday. Imagine that. And, even brought lunch for two days. Monday night, I looked up some salmon recipes and found a salmon/veg/rice bake out of one of my America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks and a salmon teriyaki recipe in my Bento cookbook. This inspired me to bring my lunch in my Bento! So, I did all this prep on Monday night, did the final cooking and packing of my Bento on Tuesday morning…and here is the story of my Tuesday Bento….

The Bento Carrier.

Oh those adorable Japanese and their unique use of the English language. Ok, the Chinese do it, too. Isn't it cute?

I actually started with my Bento-meal at breakfast time. I hate eating breakfast at home. It feels too early. But for some reason, the 15 or 20 minutes later, after I get into my office, feels like a fine time to eat breakfast. I think the other thing is that actually taking time to eat breakfast in my kitchen at home makes me nervous. Like I’m falling behind on the start of my day and I really need to get to the office as soon as possible. Why do I have such anxiety when I am away from my desk? It must be some kind of illness.

Here is the bento in all its glory - vacuum sealed to keep food hot or cold for hours! And the reusable bamboo utensils from Whole Foods. I'm a sucker for knick knacks at WF. Another illness of mine.

And the bento unpacked. Note the three convenient containers for different foodstuffs.

So, for breakfast – kefir with honey, cinnamon, and toasted flaxseed. How did I come up with this scrumptious-sounding concoction you ask? Why, from my recent stay at the Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico! This lovely healthy living spa got me addicted to this dairy product they served every day that they called “acidophilus milk.” What is that? Just plain lowfat milk that has acidophilus living and multiplying it. The closest thing I know of is Kefir, which the bottle describes as a “cousin of yogurt” and the “champagne of dairy.” Kefir has other yogurty bacteria in it, besides just acidophilus, so maybe it’s not exactly the same as what I got at the spa. But, chock full of even more probiotics and healthy bacteria! Does that not sound appetizing? Well, if you’re still not convinced about how delicious it is, just take a look:

Bento meal part 1: Breakfast Kefir Blend

What more proof do you need of the deliciousness of this meal?

So the thing about packing the yogurty-stuff, though is: this stuff was packed cold. The rest of my meal was packed hot. I also unpacked everything at breakfast, and then repacked everything, to save the other containers of food for lunchtime. I am clearly not well-versed in the way of the Japanese Bento. Lunch turned out lukewarm. Would it have stayed hot if I’d just left the whole thing sealed until lunchtime and not mixed in cold foods? I have faith that it would have. Until completely proven wrong, I will maintain my faith in the Japanese Bento. But, even lukewarm, it was tasty, seasoned with the extra sense of satisfaction that I’d cooked something healthy for myself. So, lunch:

Yum! This is better, right? On the left, lightly sauteed kale and collards over brown rice. To the right, teriyaki salmon.

I made the second salmon fillet for Tuesday dinner using the America’s Test Kitchen recipe. I ate the entire fillet, but there was leftover veggies and rice that I brought for lunch the next day. Not in the bento, because, of course, I hadn’t had a chance to wash it yet. I can either cook, or do dishes. Not both. That gives me one solid reason for why I need a partner in life. Or at least in my home.

Of the rest of my last Saturday’s grocery shopping, I have put a dent in the roast chicken. I made a few chicken quesadillas on Sunday. The rest of it has been mixed in with Marley’s dog food at night. Did I tell you how he will not eat his dry food unless I mix something yummy into it? He’s so spoiled. Usually, I just put some canned dog food and mix it together. But this week, I kind of knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat a whole roast chicken on my own, so I thought I’d give him a special treat. Anyway – time to broil some sardines for dinner tonight. I hope they are still good. I do have to clean them myself because the WF fishmonger told me that if he cleaned them for me, they would not stay fresh for more  than a day or two. I don’t know if he realized I thought he was promising me that, if I didn’t have him clean them, they would fresh for six days.

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