One of the things that Peanut will need to take with her to yochien/preschool starting in March, is a lunch - specifically a bento. I know what bento is in theory. And I've even seen a lot of neat ideas for multicultural and fusion style bentos, but I'm certainly no expert on strictly Japanese bento making. But this seems to be pretty important to people (i.e. the school director, and our sister-in-law who sends her children to the school and in her opinion the other children at the school). Now I'm not sure how to address this.
I'm all for learning how to make Japanese style foods and making a bento for Peanut each day, particularly since I know that my husband, an excellent cook, will help me. But I'm concerned about how that will happen since my mother-in-law is in the kitchen all morning (most mornings) making a big farm-style Japanese breakfast with miso soup, broiled fish, assorted vegetables, tsukemono, and the like and if she's done with cooking breakfast she's often starting on lunch or dinner preparations. With only one modest kitchen, I don't foresee an easy way for me to get into the kitchen as I often have to dance around her just to make myself a cup of coffee in the morning. However, I don't want her to feel that she should (because she's most experienced) or must (because I'm unwilling) make Peanut's lunch every day. And yet, I suspect it may go that way if we don't figure something out in the next month or so.
At least I've got some lead time to start practicing making these fabulous and elaborate lunches! Honestly I'm sort of excited about the possibilities, especially if I get to mix it up and toss in some Western style (or at least non-Japanese) foods now and then. One of the things that I don't want to force on Peanut is a mostly Japanese diet. I know that's something that a lot of people around us feel comfortable with, but it's not something that I'm comfortable with doing. We don't expect her to eat a mostly American or Western diet when we're in the U.S. - she's used to eating foods from all over (Indian, Greek, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Japanese, and on and on). If I can sneak in the occasional samosa or couscous or macaroni and cheese I'll be happy!