Cook the Book: 'The Just Bento Cookbook'

Makiko Itoh, friend of SE and mastermind behind Japanese food blog Just Hungry has a passion for the boxed lunches known in Japan as bento.

She's been blogging about the subject over at Just Bento since 2007, championing the bento as a tool for healthy, delicious, and affordable eating, making a good case for why a bento lunch is way more satisfying than brown-bagging it.

One look through The Just Bento Cookbook, Itoh's newly released guide to all things bento, will have you seriously reconsidering all those lunchtime PB&Js. Her lovingly assembled bentos employ a 1:1:2 (or more) carb:protein:vegetable ratio, making sure that they are balanced and good for you, but above all tasty and enjoyable.

Equal parts recipe book and bento how-to, The Just Bento Cookbook is an elegant guide to making lunch more fun. The recipes are broken up into two sections: Japanese-style bentos and not-so-Japanese Bentos, both of which are filled with lovely boxed lunch ideas that can be made for one or more, depending on how many lunches you plan on packing. And to make sure you have the optimal bento experience, Itoh has assembled a list of 10 bento rules, covering everything from planning and food safety to bento composition.

This week we are going to packing our own bento lunches with recipes from The Just Bento Cookbook including Chicken Kara-age, Tofu Nuggets, and Edamame Hummus.

Win 'Just Bento'

Thanks to the generous folks over at Kodansha Ineternational, we are giving away five (5) copies of The Just Bento Cookbook this week. All you have to do is tell us about what you would put in your lunchtime bento in the comments section below.

The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.