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Effortless Bento Picnic Guide – Hanami Bento

I’m always a fan of picnic, I enjoy eating with friends on the grass and chilling together. Especially during this pandemic, I call myself a picnic-holic for the picnics that I had in the past few months were more than the sum of my pre-pandemic life .

Speaking of picnic, Japanese are definitely experts in it. Their well-celebrated tradition of Hanami, or Cherry blossom viewing, can be interpreted as a picnic festival which everyone participates at least once a year.

What is Hanami?

During cherry blossom season, friends and family have picnics under cherry blossom trees to enjoy the view while eating homemade bento together.

I had my Hanami picnic this year with 3 other friends in the Golden Gate park. We visited Japanese tea garden but we decided to have a picnic outside for safety reasons. It’s really relaxing to enjoy bento surrounded by beautiful scenes after one year of shelter in place and working form home.

The food and planning for the picnic came out well. I didn’t feel exhausted or pressured and I only spent 45 minutes in the morning to prepare bentos for 4 person. Here are my tips for your next Hanami picnic party.

Tip 1: Don’t keep too much on your plate

It could be stressful when planning for food and other logistics for a picnic party. If you’re feeling that way, try to relax and delegate. Potluck is a good way to engage your friend in the preparation process with you. Entree, dessert, beverage, or fruits, whether it’s store-bought or homemade, any item that can shorten your to-do list helps.

Tip 2: Bring food which are easy to share

When planning for the menu of hanami bento, try to pack the food that is easy to share and doesn’t come with too much sauce or gravy. Most of our bento recipes work well in picnic, but I personally like maki sushi, sushi sandwiches, and rice balls for they are easy to make, neat for sharing and looks very colorful.

Tip 3: Prep ahead to save time

The day before picnic, make sure that you have all the ingredients ready. Thaw the meat/fish, cook a pot of rice, and cut the vegetables so that you don’t need much preparation work the next morning.

Tip 4: Play it by ear

What to do when your egg roll doesn’t keep the shape, or when you accidentally run out of nori sheet or even rice? Accident happens, and it’s okay. Use your creativity and improvise something new! After all, it’s not a cooking contest but a chilled picnic. Just Relax!

*The rice ball bento in the picture is actually a byproduct of the maki rolls. I ran out of nori sheets, so I just made rice balls and arrange the remaining ingredients in the bento.

Tip 5: Attention to details

It’s always nice to have little surprises in the bento. As these details may seem trivial, they actually make your picnic so much more delightful. Pack a small container with condensed milk for strawberries, or use cookie cutters to shape your pickles can surely elevate your picnic into profession level.

I hope that you enjoy this article and have fun picnicking with your favorite bento.

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