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Review & Giveaway: The Just Bento Cookbook

Being a bento blogger means it’s almost impossible to not know who Maki Itoh is. The author of the biggest bento blog out there, Just Bento, Maki gives wonderful tips, recipes, and ideas for the everyday person. So imagine my surprise when I read that she started Just Bento in October 2007. In my head, I’d always imagined she was just around, well, forever!

The Just Bento Cookbook

What follows is my review of her book, The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go, which is back in stock on Amazon today. Since my own book, Yum-Yum Bento Box, has also been out of stock, it’s clear that the Christmas holidays totally wiped out Amazon’s bento bookshelves!

Disclosure: The copies of Just Bento were sent to me by the publisher.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.

Some time last year, Maki and I had a brief exchange about our books and we were happy to discover that while we were both doing bento cookbooks, we most likely had different audiences and probably wouldn’t impact each other in a big way.

The Just Bento Cookbook features 25 full color photographs of healthy bento lunches and is split up into two sections: Japanese Bentos and Not-so-Japanese Bentos. Upon reading that there were 25 lunches featured, I admit I felt a bit disappointed, as that didn’t seem like very many. However, the book actually features 155 variation recipes for you to try, each of them sounding unique and delicious.

The Japanese section features meals that are traditionally packed into a bento box lunch. You’ll find recipes for things like soba noodles, tamagoyaki, and sushi (none with raw fish). After looking through, I’m definitely going to try the Parmesan Tamagoyaki variation she suggests.

The Not-so-Japanese section is dedicated to global dishes and is a wonderfully diverse part of the book featuring recipes adapted to make cooking them for yourself easy. One thing I will be trying is the Spanish Tortilla, as that looks like a good power food to pack while on Weight Watchers.

Maki has included her popular Just Bento timeline for each of the lunches in the book and although at first I found it a little confusing, it is a handy tool to showing you how to proceed through the preparation of each meal.

There are a couple of downsides to the book, one being that half of the pages are in black and white. All of the lunches are in full color, but the procedure photos for things like cooking tamagoyaki were in black and white, which was a bit confusing for me at first as I thought it was for tamagoyaki using egg whites. Secondly, the instructions are in paragraph form. This is just a personal preference of mine, but I find it much easier to follow a recipe if the steps are numbered. Paragraphs tend to make it easier for me to just lose my place or skip over things.

That being said, the book is chock full of useful tips on speed, safety, portion sizes, and little tidbits. Priced at $11.83 on Amazon, I think this price is well worth it for the amount of recipes and advice provided. If I wasn’t provided with a copy from Kondasha, I would have bought the book myself and been quite happy with my purchase. I wish Maki all the best with her book’s success!

When I was first sent a copy of the book, it took the ultra slow boat getting here, so after nearly a month, I contacted Maki again and she had another one sent out. Both books arrived within a few days of each other. Typical! The good news for you guys is that means I have one up for grabs!

Three Ways to Enter:

  1. Comment here and tell me why you want to win The Just Bento Cookbook.
  2. Become a fan of Adventures in Bentomaking on Facebook and leave a comment on the giveaway post.
  3. Follow @pikko on Twitter and RT the following: “RT @pikko Win a copy of The Just Bento Cookbook from Adventures in Bentomaking!” Comment here with the link to your tweet.

This giveaway will close on January 28, 2011. Maximum of three entries per person. Comments not following instructions will not be counted as valid entries. Winner will be contacted via Facebook or e-mail and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before it is forfeited and another winner chosen.

This giveaway is open to everyone.

Buy The Just Bento Cookbook and other bento books on Amazon:

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  • Kay

    Great giveaway! I’d love to check out this book to break out of my leftovers-only lunches rut, haha.

  • Kay
  • Heather

    I would love to win your cookbook because I’ve found making lunch for my daughter to be so much fun and really enjoyable. Your recipes are inspiring!

  • Cindy Miller

    I am just getting into the whole bento lunch idea and would love to win the book so I can see and read more about bentos. Thanks

  • Heather
  • carolina ll d
  • Heather
    commented on fb & liked on fb

  • I love owning cookbooks, it reminds me of cooking with my mom and grandmother. And this is something I will totally use. πŸ™‚

  • adri

    I want to win this book because I’ve had it on my wishlist for a long time! I love her blog just as much as yours, the recipes are great!

  • Gayle

    As a single person I would love help with ideas of things I could make and freeze. I’ve always packed my lunch but obentos make watching my weight easier.

  • Natasja

    I didnt know how to post my Retweet here but I retweeted it on Twitter.

    I would love to win this book because, I wanna learn stuff about bento’s more and wanna learn to make nicer ones

  • Mariko

    I would like to win this book so that I can put my years of bento-blog-reading into actual practice!

  • I love bento books for the recipes and inspiration. <3

  • Megan

    Hi! I recently got into bento making, and your blog and Maki’s blog have both been very helpful to me! I would love a copy of Maki’s book so I can learn even more techniques and try out some new recipes!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Review & Giveaway: The Just Bento Cookbook β€” Adventures in Bentomaking: Bento Lunches by Pikko --

  • Katrina

    I’d love to win this book because I kind of resolved to only buy Kindle books from now on and this one isn’t available on Kindle πŸ™ But if I won it…..

    Plus, I really want it!

  • Megan
  • Hi Pikko !
    I’d love to win the book because I love maki’s blogs and her approach of making bento lunches but weren’t able to find the book here.

  • P. Young

    I would love to be able to improve my bento skills! My son’s Lego shaped bento is languishing in the drawer! Help put me back on the right track. Also I want to use my own
    Bento box to as a tool to keep me on my weight watchers diet. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Mmm yum. I would like this book b/c I can always use ideas on how to make food more attractive. I also have a few boxes that are sitting lonely in my cupboard, awaiting inspiration.

  • ladysaotome

    Entry #1) I’d love a copy of the book as Hubby is incredibly picky and never very satisified with the bentos I whip up for Munchkin & myself. I think the 2nd half on Not-So-Japanese would really help me figure out how to pack him something he’d enjoy more.

  • ladysaotome
  • Lee

    I love reading your blog and would love a book with more recipes and photos (I’m a sucker for lots of photos). Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Crystal

    I’d love to win the Just Bento book because I can’t get a copy anywhere, they’re sold out!

  • Notabrownbag
  • I LOVE your blog, I’ve been a follower here (and have you on my blogroll) for quite awhile now! I have been looking for a great bento book, I am just in the process of changing all of our lunches over to healthy, packed lunches every day, and this book sounds absolutely perfect! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  • I’m a Facebook fan!

  • Brandi

    I’ve been interested in the bento making process for a while and was thrilled to find your blog 3 months ago. I was even more thrilled to receive your cookbook for Christmas. I’ve been looking for more bento cookbooks for a while and Just Bento was at the top of my list. I’ve been wanting healthy and delicious recipes to make for my family and myself. Thanks!

  • Pixie

    I Would LOVE to win the book because I just ordered my first bento box from Amazon and would love to learn how to make awesome bentos!

  • Pixie

    Liked on fb as pennypinchingpixie

  • Marie

    I just got my first Bento Box and I would love to have the book to get some basics and inspiration. Also I adore the japanese culture! πŸ™‚

  • I tweeted and retweeted but for some reason my link isn’t wanting to work..!/Rosemamie, it’s there I promise!

  • Brandi
  • Amber

    I’ve been planning to buy Maki’s book, but I’d love to win a copy because I’ve been getting into bento making as a way to save money, and so I’m trying not to spend money on bento things (cute as they are!) and just make do with my plain old kitchen stuff. I love her blog, and so I’d like more tips on making something that I have to look forward to eating (opposed to now, where I’m sort of like “Lunch. That’s … lunchlike. Maybe I’ll go out instead.”

  • Lucky us! Since I make bentos daily for my kids, I’m always looking for new recipes and techniques. What a handy reference and guide.

  • I would love to win this book because I have just started bento-ing my lunch everyday. I live in Kentucky and there are NO resources around me. My hope is to use this book to get ideas and improve my skills!

  • Michele Court

    My local bookstore is unable to tell me when they can get me a copy of this book and it would be perfect for me! I’ve been doing bento for just awhile and this book would be an awesome addition to my bento supplies – fingers crossed!

  • i love giveaways! Since i bento myself, it’s a good way to learn more about bentos. Just Bentos would be great in my bento collection!

  • Retweeted the book giveaway on my @Milokomirror Twitter account!

  • Silver Anderson

    I’d love to win this book since I have no bento books as of yet. I’ve been solely inspired thus far by my twitterpals (Pikko included) and would love to learn more techniques and designs.

  • I’d love to receive this book so I can gift it to some of my cooking friends. I want to spread the love of bento-making here in my country.

  • I have been eyeing this book for awhile now!

    Just retweeted your tweet on my twitter handle @Alicelily:

  • Elizabeth H.

    I would love a copy of this cookbook for inspiration and direction. My bentos are really still unrefined but I love to cook and experiment.

  • Camille

    I would love to win! As a wife/mother of 3/student I’ve been wanting to learn different ways for us all to eat healthy and homecooked even on the go!

  • Mokona

    I would love to win this book! I love the Justo Bento blog, and having the recipes and bento ideas always handy would be fantastic!

  • Liz

    I would love love love to win this book. I’m new to bentoing and would love to find ideas and inspiration for new bentos in the book.

  • clara

    I would love to win this cookbook and learn about making artful and healthy bentos.

  • sammi

    i would love to get this book for my cousin =)

  • kadusey

    My husband is trying really hard to lose weight, eating out for lunch more often than not hasn’t been helping much. I need to start packing lunches for him, but usually don’t have any ideas other than leftovers (I read both your site and Just Bento regularly, but usually in the middle of the day when I’m not really thinking about lunch for the next day). A bento cookbook would be very helpful I think. I have plans to buy both you and her book someday when there’s a bit more money in our bank account, but that might be awhile.

  • Kerstin Wolff

    Hi, really awesome post & giveaway! I’d love to win the book because I’m addicted to the idea of bentos, and I do make them, but they never measure up and I feel like I could learn a lot about correct proportions and techniques from this book, as well as get new, awesome recipes. πŸ™‚
    I’m also commented on facebook & became a fan, and I RT’ed and followed on twitter (I’m @kirikiri )

    Thank you so much for this opportunity!

  • Samantha GL

    I’d love to get a book like this. I have a few bento books already, and I’m always looking for new things to do with my bentos. πŸ™‚

  • bridget

    I’d love more bento ideas. I only have one bento cookbook so far – yours! – and that doesn’t seem like nearly enough. Our family is a little excessive with the cookbooks – 5+ crockpot cookbooks, at least 5 Indian cookbooks, probably 10 vegetarian cookbooks…you get the idea. πŸ™‚

  • Elizabeth Nirenberg

    Woo! I followed your twitter and retweeted your post. My twitter is @bekochan

  • Sarah B.

    I would love this book because I always on the lookout for fresh ideas for my daughters lunches. This book looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Sarah B.

    I follow you on Facebook!

  • Sarah

    I follow you on Twitter. Here’s my tweet.!/squeakandus/status/29755292761726976

  • Pam

    I love bento-ing. However, for some reason I have a creative block when it comes to my lunches. They either end up being just a bunch of leftovers shoved into a box, or I take way, way too long to create something that looks like… leftovers shoved into a box. Maybe this book would help me out of my rut? πŸ™‚

  • Loree

    I’ve had my eye on this book for a while! I’d love more/new ideas to keep my kids’ lunches interesting & fun!! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Erin-Joi

    Would love to try out the recipes in this book. I have been trying to get my hubby to pack his lunch. He does when it is an easy thing like hot pockets or some other microwaveable boxed meal. Last night I packed leftovers and salad in a bento box for him. He wasn’t too thrilled until he ate it. He sent me a text after lunch thanking me for the wonderful lunch.

  • Megan

    I want to win The Just Bento Cookbook as I live in Australia and have visited Japan and fell in love with the culture! I have been trying to get my hands on a decent Bento Cookbook but the only ones I have seen are aimed at Japanese Mums. It would be fantastic to finally have a Bento Cookbook that is aimed at a wider audience so I can pack delicious lunches for my boyfriend and I.

    Also my twitter retweet at:!/megsie_k/status/29782556798877696

  • That is so cute Erin-Joi! That text must have really brought a smile to your face. πŸ™‚

  • Julie

    I want zee book.. Student with little time and looong days at university, bento’s are such a rescue from expencive (and unhealthy) cafeteria food, and budget unfortunately doesn’t really have room for cookbooks.

  • Mona L

    I would love to win this, I love Bentos as a healthy choice on a small budget. It is so much easier to do that with bentos!

  • Rexy

    I’d love to win one, just to see how what kind of not-so-Japanese dishes made it into a bento, how they look portioned into a bento, and what they could be accompanied with. All my bentos so far have contained rice and something Asian so I’d love to look into recommended alternatives ^_^

  • Moontaj

    My husband is complaining about not having food like he use to eat in New England and he’s bored with food we make here in Florida. I’d LOVE to win a cookbook filled with recipes he (and me) haven’t even imagined! I’d also like him to stop complaining about the ‘same old stuff’. :p

  • carla

    I want to win the book because IΒ΄m new to bento making and donΒ΄t have any books about it!

  • Rene

    I want to win this book because I have been eating basically the same thing for lunch everyday. I always wanted to try something new but didn’t where to start. This bento cookbook might be a good start.

    here’s my tweet!/ReneChong/status/29888403659038720

  • I would love to win this because this book is one for the books on my wishlist and your review even makes me want it more! πŸ™‚

  • Well, because is the only bento-book in English that isn’t present on my cooking-books shelves. HI HI HI!

  • I’d love to win because I’m learning how to cook and how to prepare bento. It’s very hard to find a book on the subject where I live, but I’d rather have a cook book I can take with me to the kitchen than a computer screen filled with recipes in my room, but without printing possibilities.

  • I would love to win this book because I am always looking for new recipes to pack in my bento and even if we can find a lot of great recipes on th Internet having a great cookbook in hand is more convenient.

  • Jyll

    I would love to win the cookbook because I run out of inspiration and ideas when making bento. I’d like to venture out from my standby ingredients and make something amazing!

  • Rexy

    I haven’t been keeping up with my own bento making for a while so having this book would be a great inspiration to start back up again.

  • This book sounds wonderful! I’m always trying to keep the kids lunches interesting and they love to try new foods. I think this would be a great way to introduce them to new things and maybe get them interested in helping prepare/pack their own lunches more often.

  • IWe’ve read Just Hungry/Bento for a looong time, and have somehow always missed out on the Bento cookbook–it’s either out of stock, or We’re out of scratch, or other ships-in-the-night combos. But you have a secret copy! A sneaky copy. The perfect copy for a Sneaky King!

    Also, We covet the pretty lunch on the cover.

  • Diem
  • Hello!
    I would like to win this book because I just received yours (and I love it!!!). I had placed an order for this cookbook as well, but Amazon said it would take 3 months to get to me. πŸ™ I would use this cookbook to liven up my husband, little Guy, and my daily bentos.
    Thanks for doing these drawings!!

  • Grace

    Thank you for the review. I’ve been packing lunches for a long time, but I’ve just gotten started playing around with bentos and making my lunches more planned and aesthetically pleasing. I’d love to have a look through Just Bento for ideas.

  • franky

    Follow Follow You past bento books and spreads,
    A heart would be delighted, when this book is read!

  • Lena

    I would love to win this book, because I want my daughter’s school lunchbox to look ( and taste) better. I love bento, but I don’t have any bento books.

  • Monica Lavoie

    I would love this! I have been trying to prepare my little girl bento lunches and this would be great inspiration.


  • Monica Lavoie

    I like you on Facebook.


  • kimmie

    Great giveaway! I just want to win it to see all the pretty pictures of bentos. I am obsessed!

  • Teslaca

    I’d love to win this cookbook to read about new ideas for lunches that don’t require refrigeration or a microwave. I don’t have either at work, but enjoy making imaginative and appealing lunches. I have a couple of bento boxes to use and would just like some fresh ideas of things to put in them!

  • Teslaca
  • icitea

    I want to win because I’d love to read through and be inspired by this book!

  • CookingUpNovels

    I feel like this would be a great way to start real bento making in college. I’m often limited in ingredients, and when I buy eggs to make cake I have tons of left over. It could be cool to actually have a way to use them!

    Here is my retweet, I’m still getting used to twitter so I did my best, haha.!/cookingupnovels

  • Demi-Plum

    I would love to win this cookbook because I love bento. I love learning anything I can about bento. It’s not just about preparing food for lunches, it’s about putting love and creativity into a meal that can keep you going and make you feel a little bit better if you’ve been down. I’ve seen and it is one of the bento blogs that I follow. After buying Yum-Yum Bento Box I’ve been very anxious to get another book to increase my own knowledge of recipes and maybe even help inspire me to come up with more of my own tips and tricks. I am going to open a group on deviantART all about the “How To” of bento and all the new tips and tricks I can get my hands on I want to share with others! Bento should be spread and not kept to yourself!

  • I’d love a copy because I read Just Bento; I’ve also recently started making bento myself!

  • Serena

    I would love this book to get more ideas for bentos. Haven’t gotten to the point where I can make my bentos look that appealing.

  • Serena

    RT’d the giveaway:!/angelrena

  • Louise

    I tweeted but I don’t know how to get the link for the retweet, so I’ll just tell you why I’d like to win the book. I love bento and I’m trying to learn to budget my morning time to make them regularly. I read several bento blogs and would love to be able to quickly whip one up before running out the door to work. I just haven’t been able to get it together yet. So the recipes and the timelines to put the bentos together might be just the extra help I need. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • kate McGregor

    If I was lucky enough to win this giveaway, my bentos might be more imaginative. I’ve got stuck in a rut of preparing the same old sals based lunches as it’s easy and quick. I look on in envy at the charaben lunches prepared by so many others. It might just be the boost I need.

  • When I first got started making bento, I read Maki’s Just Bento blog cover-to-cover, so to say, for instructions. I would love to support her as I’ve supported other bento cookbook bloggers, and if I win I will blog about it and host my own giveaway of both her and your books (that I will purchase).

  • Retweeted both pikko and maki promo of pikko’s giveaway. I already follow both of you.
    I’m such a #bento groupie. My twitter name is JudysNotebook

  • I’d love to win this book because I’m a cookbook addict and love Maki’s blog! Also, my bentos could use a little bit of inspiration and new recipes, they’re a bit boring ^^’.

  • Great giveaway! I’d love to win because I am always on the lookout for fun and creative ways to feed my family healthy food. :o)

  • Piper

    I would love to get into Bento making!

  • Stacy

    how cool. I wish I could win. What a coincident, I was looking at the same thing on Amazon last week. πŸ™‚ I want to start making bentos sooooo bad

  • tutora

    In my country, bento boxes are not so popular. It is really hard to find bento accessories and (recipe) books on this subject. Therefore it would be wonderful to own this book and find creative ideas.

  • Kim

    I’d love to win this bento book so I can start making healthy lunches to take to college. I’m studying for my Master’s and healthy food is hard to find on campus!

  • Kim

    Twitter retweet link!

  • Sebastian

    I need a bento cookbook since I don’t have any. I would really like to have one since I make bentos often. πŸ™‚

  • I’d love to learn how to bento!

  • Marnie

    I need all the help I can get with my bentos! πŸ™‚

  • I’d really love to win this book to improve my bento making abilities and help me in my quest for a healthier lifestyle

  • RCFoodie

    I’d SO love to win this cookbook because i’m a total cookbook collector! I have alot of the old ‘church’ cookbooks and I am a proud owner of your own Yum Yum Bento Box! I saw Makiko’s, but chose yours first because it was so cute and colorful. So as not to sound like i’m kissin’ butt (LOL!) i’d give this cookbook a great home and also would put it to good use with my own Little Helper in the kitchen. (She loves bentos now!)

  • icitea
  • icitea

    liked on fb @itsuko tea!

  • Martyna

    I read bento blogs (not only yours) regularly, thanks to RSS-Feeds. I’m quite new to bento still and only doing it irregularly, partly because I save the links to all those wonderful sites and then never look at them again. Cook books are the better: I can put them somewhere where they will grasp my attention and able to try all those recipes that I want to try, but I never think about when there’s the time.

  • Martyna

    I had a hard time figuring out how to get the link, but here it is:!/Bluemchenblatt/status/30707183075196928

    I still don’t know what RT is, though. *laughs*

  • Sarah H.

    I think I should win because I love bento making but I need more ideas and my lunches just aren’t tasting good anymore because I ran out of things to eat.

  • Sarah H.

    I think I should win because my friends and want to know more about bento making and I think cookbooks are the way to show them and I can’t find any books in my library that are specific.

  • Good Luck to everyone. The section on non japanese stuff is what intrested me. There aren’t any good grocery stores around here and the book I already have seems to be a tradional one.

  • thepricklypinecone

    I would love to win as I am always stuck for inspiration when it comes to bentos.

  • thepricklypinecone

    I became a fan on FB

  • I would like to win this book because I reeeeally need to start packing decent food to take to work. Woman can not live on granola bars and fast food alone.

  • Thanks for the great review Pikko ^_^ (the b&w pages were a budgetary decision btw…to keep the cost of the book down without sacrificing overall quality. I’ll let Kodansha know though!)

  • Evelyn

    i am new to bento making. i would love to win this book for the variety of recipes it offers. it is on my wish list! thank you for offering this contest!

  • how nice for a bento beginner like me to have such a good book to start with… will wait for your good news.. πŸ˜€

  • Jennifer

    I’d love to win the cookbook. I’ve been having a lot of health issues lately and this would be a good way to get on track with better, healthier eating that’s entertaining as well.

  • Brandee

    I would love to have this cookbook so I can have recipes to make both healthly and fun lunches for myself and my 2 kids. I love bento but have trouble coming up with ideas to put in them.

  • Pingback: Review & Giveaway: The Just Bento Cookbook – Bento Central()

  • Lisa Hoyt

    My 15 year old daughter has become captivated by all things Bento. She just got a shipment today of things FROM JAPAN (translation: many weeks of eagerly anticipating the mailman) to make even cooler bentos than she had previously imagined, and she paid for them with her own money. I would love to win this for her. She has been so excited to MAKE HER OWN LUNCH!!! I mean, how cool is that!

  • Catherine Cua

    I would love to win The Just Bento Cookbook so I can expand my knowledge in bento making. After several trip to Japan, myself and a coworker of mine decided to start making healthy bento for the elementary school we work at. The bentos were sold as part of a fundraiser for the school and were an overwhelming hit. (Especially since we live in a small town in the middle of rural Ontario and almost no one had ever heard of bentos) We are always looking for great recipe and fun ways to present food to kids. This book would be a great addition to our bento cooking book collection. πŸ˜‰

  • Lynn Gosselin

    I am working mother of 2 wonderful children who have always been introduced to healthy eating habits yet recently it has become harder to please due to outside influences and what is readly available when out and about. I find it sometimes hard to compete. I have recently discovered BENTO BOX type meal and find this is the best way to get children of all ages excited to make healty choices. It seems with Bento there is less competition. When I discovered how easy some can be it makes going out less stressful when you know your children will eat well, and are more apt to trying new veggies. I hope to win this competition to have more tips and ideas to make appealing Bento Boxes, and by doing so I would love to introduce this type of meal to many others in my surroundings. Good luck to all

  • Marie Plastre

    I Love Bento boxes! I lived in Japan for a year, and I ate some almost everyday. But since I am back in Canada, I have to make them myself, but I lack the knowledge and skills to make them. This book would be so useful, since I tent to work 12 hrs + shifts at work and Bento box is the best solution in order to stay healthy and have a little something cute to look forward to eating ahaha.

  • I want to win bc I LOVE all things Bento!!!

  • Kyo

    IΒ΄d love to win this book.
    IΒ΄m always looking for Bento ideas and inspiration to create new healthy bentos for school.
    So it would be great for me to have it at home (^.^)