Bento Mom’s Make Lunch While You Make Dinner
Here is another week of menus, featuring ways to make lunch while you are making dinner. Below are the lunch and dinner main courses. That might not be enough lunch for bigger people, so be sure to include sides such as steamed beets, raw or cooked broccoli, raw or cooked cauliflower, gelatin cups made with juice, steamed spinach, kale chips, raw or cooked carrot circles, apple or pear slices, small plums, pretzels, cookies, dry cereal, etc. Many of these sides can be made on Sunday and then they will be ready to pack every morning.
There are a few recipes at the bottom for the starred menu items. Happy eating!
Dinner: Stir fry with short-grain white rice and green salad. Lunch: Sushi rolls*.
Cabbage, carrots, onions, broccoli, garlic, zucchini, spinach, bok choy, or whatever vegetables you like; edamame
As soon as the rice is cooked, set some aside for the sushi rolls, about 1 cup per roll. Season with sushi vinegar. Either now or after dinner, make the sushi rolls using julienned vegetables from dinner, strips of tofu, or tuna salad made for the purpose. Save some cabbage and carrot out from the stir fry to make a small cabbage salad to serve with the sushi. Cut the sushi rolls in half. Pack two half rolls plus a little container of salad in each sandwich box. While dinner cooks, boil some edamame; drain and salt them. You can put them in a separate container, or use them to fill any spaces in the sandwich box.
Dinner: Black bean soup, green salad. Lunch: black bean salad* with corn, tomatillo salsa* and red peppers. (For omnivores you could put chicken in the salad or a piece of sausage on the side.)
Lettuce, tomatoes, corn, red peppers, tomatillos, onions, cilantro, celery/carrot.
If you’re using dry beans, set 2 cups of drained beans aside to cool once they are cooked. While you are finishing the soup, cut the corn off the cob and dice the red pepper. You could also add some diced celery and/or carrot. Stir in 1 cup of tomatillo salsa. Pack into individual small lunch containers. Put tortillas or chips in a separate container.
Dinner: Roasted vegetables, sausages, cole slaw. Lunch: Torte*, cole slaw.
Eggs, potatoes, cauliflower, beets, (spinach, zucchini or broccoli), cabbage, carrots, parsley, celery.
While the vegetables roast, beat a few eggs with a little salt and milk, and grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. When the vegetables are roasted, put some aside for the torte. Leave the oven on; turn it down to 325. Roughly chop the roasted vegetables, mix them with the eggs, then pour it all into the skillet. (If you have leftover cooked spinach, zucchini or broccoli, that could be added as well.) Let it bake in the oven for about 45 minutes–while you have dinner! Before serving dinner, put aside some cole slaw. After dinner, let the torte cool while you clean up. Pack slices of torte into a sandwich box, along with a little container of cole slaw.
Dinner: Enchilada casserole with homemade sauce*, steamed green beans, green salad. Lunch: enchiladas, green bean salad.
Tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, onions, cilantro, garlic; lettuce, tomatoes; green beans.
Presumably you have made the sauce and froze or canned it when there were paste tomatoes lying all over the ground; if not, there is an alternate recipe below. I prefer to layer the ingredients rather than roll. You can fill with grated cheese, black beans, corn, cooked meat, or whatever your family likes. (Since you will be serving this for lunch at room temperature, avoid greasy beef or anything that has solid fat at room temperature.) While the casserole bakes, steam the beans. Dress some in butter for dinner. Dress the lunch beans with vinaigrette, or simply with olive oil and salt. When the casserole is done, allow it to cool for about 10 minutes, then put aside the portions you will need for lunch. You can pack them right into the sandwich boxes with the green beans on the side.
DInner: Black-eyed pea soup with Piggery Ham Hocks; stir-fried kale. Lunch: Akara* with chopped vegetable salad.
Onions, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, tomatoes, kale (or whatever you like in soup); parsley and/or cilantro
Soak the black-eyed peas. Put 3 cups of soaked beans into the bowl of the food processor for akara. Put the rest in the soup pot with the ham hock and let them cook. Meanwhile, chop vegetables for the soup, putting a small portion of each vegetable aside for the raw salad. Add some chopped onion to the food processor. The beans should be simmering by now. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes, garlic, cauliflower and parsley to the soup. Chop some parsley and/or cilantro; add some to the salad and some to the food processor. Dress the salad with vinaigrette and put it aside. While the soup finishes, make the akara. Pack the akara into sandwich boxes; add a silicone muffin cup with the vegetable salad. By now the soup should be cooked; season to taste and serve.
1/4 cup of Japanese rice vinegar (I sometimes use white balsamic or apple cider)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Add enough to your rice to give it flavor, but not enough to make it soggy.
Fresh Tomatillo Salsa
Tomatillos, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt. Quarter enough tomatillos to half-fill your food processor bowl. Add a small quartered onion and a handful of cilantro. Pulse to chop; leave some texture. Season with lime juice and salt. Yum! It will be a bit watery; that’s normal. Serve on EVERYTHING.
Black Bean Confetti Salad
Black beans, fresh corn, carrots or red pepper, tomatillo salsa. Drain the beans, mince the carrot or red pepper, and cut the corn off the cob. Mix together. Add salsa to taste, and extra salt if desired. Yum!
3 cups roasted vegetables, or 1 large zucchini
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
Wash and trim zucchini; steam in hot salted water for 10 minutes; drain and cool. Saute onion in olive oil. Dice the cooked vegetables. Beat eggs and mix in bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasonings. Add vegetables and onions and mix well. Turn into greased 8×8 baking dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Cool well.
tomato (sauce, diced, puree, paste, whatever)
canned chipotles in adobo, to taste
chili powder (or paprika, cumin and oregano)
tiny pinch of cinnamon
Put everything into the food processor. You may sautee the onions and garlic first if you like. If using tomato paste, add water. Blend and taste. Use.
To make this with fresh produce, mix quartered tomatillos, tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers (hot or mild) in a bowl with olive oil. Spread on two cookie sheets and roast until lightly browned. Process in food processor or blender. Season with chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt, plus a pinch of cinnamon.
Akara (from congocookbook.com)
What you need
- three cups soaked cowpeas (black-eyed peas) or similar
- one small onion, quartered
- one-half teaspoon salt
- hot chile pepper, or a piece of sweet green pepper or sweet red pepper, roughly chopped
- cayenne pepper or red pepper (to taste)
- one-half teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and minced (optional)
- vegetable oil for frying
What you do
- Pulse beans, onions peppers and salt in food processor until you have a paste.
- Heat oil in a deep skillet. Make fritters by scooping up a spoon full of batter and using another spoon to quickly push it into the hot oil. Deep fry the fritters until they are golden brown. Turn them frequently while frying. (If the fritters fall apart in the oil, stir in a beaten egg, some cornmeal or crushed breadcrumbs.)
- Serve with an African Hot Sauce or salt, as a snack, an appetizer, or a side dish.
- Variation: Add a half cup of finely chopped leftover cooked meat to the batter before frying; or add a similar amount dried shrimp or prawns.