I got my bento gear! My first lunch with the new extra cute bento boxes featured stir fried noodles with beef and vegetables, sticky rice, and mango. Besides being delicious, this lunch has a great example of using up some odds and ends in my kitchen.
Lunches are a great place to pull together odds and ends left over after other cooking endeavors. In this case I used a handful of shredded cabbage and some left over steak to make a stir fry. I added some rice noodles, which I often have on hand. I seasoned my stir fry with soy sauce, but you can use whatever kind of seasonings you prefer. If you don't have rice noodles, this works just as well with rice (fried rice!), or even regular pasta. Assembling the stir fry is easy. Cook the noodles or rice first. While that is draining, stir fry the meat and vegetables. When the meat and veg are cooked, add in the noodles or rice. Toss a few times to spread around the seasoning, and you're done.
Odds and ends work great in all sorts of quick meals. They are often the perfect addition to omelets and frittatas. If you're in the mood for soup, throw a handful of vegetables and in a pan, add water+soup stock (I really like this one.), and optionally meat, noodles, or both. Boil until the veg and other ingredients are cooked, and you have a quick soup that's much better than anything out of a can. Or try sauteing some meat and veggies and toss with cooked pasta and olive oil for a quick pasta dish.
Fruit and snacks are also great odds and ends candidates. Nothing could be easier than throwing in a couple of left over strawberries or a few mango chunks. If you have a couple of different left over fruits, then how about fruit salad? The last cookie in the package or half a left over brownie also often find their way into my lunches. These are all things that I might not think of saving if I didn't consider them to be lunch candidates. If I'm sitting down for a snack at home, I'm probably not going to be satisfied with a few bites of fruit or a single cookie. They do however make wonderful little treats to add to my bentos! :)
As I've worked on the lunch series, and continued to make my own lunches, I realize how much creativity and flexibility it takes to keep my lunches quick, delicious, and interesting each day. Sometimes I use one of my favorite recipes, which I've probably got stocked in the freezer. Sometimes I use leftovers, from my own cooking or anywhere we've gotten takeout recently. And sometimes I do a little quick cooking, such as these shrimp recipes and the suggestions in this blog. I certainly do not have every lunch secret, but I am beginning to feel confident about preparing delicious food on a daily basis :)