Bento fans will already have realised the necessity of the freezer to being able to produce bento boxes speedily on a regular basis. LunchInABox.net and Just Hungry/Just Bento frequently discuss the foods that freeze well such as cooked rice (see also this), inarizushi, takoyaki, spaghetti, pancakes, sandwiches, ground ginger, chopped herbs etc (see the full list from LunchInABox here). Read also their speed bento primers:
Make-ahead lunch tips from Japanese magazine
Need for speed: A mommy’s lunch manifesto
Johbisai or Joubisai: Building up a bento making ‘stash’
People who do cooking for just one person, or are trying to juggle a busy schedule might also find the freezer their best friend: cooking large quantities then freezing it in single-portions.
Since I started on a food intolerance diet five years ago, I’ve always tried to have a stash of baked goods on hand for snacking, whether at home or on the go. This works wonderfully for muffins, scones, cupcakes, doughnuts, waffles and bread. As soon as the baked items cool, I put them in a freezer bag or plastic box and pop them into the freezer to preserve freshness.
When I want to eat them, waffles & thinner slices of bread go straight into the toaster and thicker slices of bread in the oven toaster. In the case of muffins, cakes and scones, I microwave on medium-high for 40 seconds, first wrapping them in a paper napkin/kitchen towel to keep them moist but also prevent them from getting soggy.
Microwaved things go hard and rubbery pretty quickly, so when I do this, I make sure I eat them whilst they are still hot. If I want to put the cake into a bento box for eating later, I make sure I take them out of the freezer early enough for them to defrost naturally by the time I want to eat them. Important to wrap them in paper napkin/kitchen towel to soak up any melting ice particles.
I’ve kept things for uh, months in the freezer :P but they still taste pretty good once heated up :). However, the longer they stay in the freezer, the greater the build-up of ice particles, which will make the food soggy when they melt, so you have to take the trouble to deal with them (not easy for waffles full of holes!)
I do love my baked goods deliciously hot, so I’ve not done any frosting or icing for my cakes so far, which would mean having to keep them in the fridge to be eaten cold and also having to finish them off very quickly. Of course, it’s also healthier to keep off all that extra butter and sugar from your cakes :)!