One reaction I get a lot when people find out that I prepare bento on a regular basis is, “Wow. That must take ages.” People seem to think, “It’s a full meal, it must take hours to cook.” The fact is, if you’re prepared, packing a complete, attractive and satisfying lunch can be done in half an hour, tops.
Take this bento in particular. It has rice, protein and veggies and it can be prepared in 20 minutes. 10 if you don’t count the time it takes to marinate the chicken.
Moving the chicken fillets from the freezer to the fridge the night before ensures that you have nice, well-defrosted chicken in the morning. An added bonus is that you minimize the risk of getting your chicken contaminated by microorganisms because you defrosted in the fridge. Saving some rice from dinner also helps cut down prep time in the morning. Whenever we have leftover rice, I simply wrap in freezer-safe packaging and freeze so I can quickly microwave them (on high while frozen) in the mornings.
First thing to do when I wake up is (1) make the marinade and dump my chicken in. In this case, I have Chicken Teriyaki. I know the recipe says marinate for 30 minutes but from experience, I know that 15 minutes is good enough.
While the chicken is marinating, I grab a packet of (2) frozen rice, microwave it on high for 2 minutes. While that’s happening, I grab an orange then (3) slice it into wedges, eating some as I go along. After the rice is done, I dump some (4) frozen peas on a platter then microwave on medium for a minute or so, just enough to melt the ice.
Grabbing my bento box, I place the rice, fruit and peas in. Did that take 15 minutes? I’d think not but if it did, it’s now time to (5) cook the teriyaki. It’ll take 5 minutes at most since I’m cooking such a small amount. Then, it’s slice and layer on top of the rice.
20 minutes at most, in 5 easy steps. Magic? Not really. More like being prepared, focused and moving quickly in the mornings. Are you ready to give it a shot?