It's quite clear to me that I'm not going to manage a daily bento box until I build up a stash of foods ready to tuck into corners and add variety. So I'm looking to things I can make and freeze - even leftover entrees frozen in muffin tins - and gathering a list of stuff I have on hand that fit the bill that I can prepare ahead, or that need minimal preparation in the morning when I'm making my bento box.
Besides condiments I have homemade pickles - a few fermented dills, and Alton Brown's "kinda sorta sours" and bread and butter pickles (both incredibly crisp refrigerator pickles), as well as purchased pickled beets.
For fresh raw veggies I routinely have celery and carrots on hand, still have peppers from my garden for another week or two, and cukes purchased mostly for pickling but available for cucumber sticks and salads too. I have two small zucchini that are the very last from the garden and maybe a cherry tomato. I've got my eye out for cheaper cauliflower than I can get now.
For cooked vegggies I've blanched a head of broccoli and cubes of rutabaga (oh underappreciated vegetable how I love you), and sauted mushrooms to golden brown delicious. I've got an acorn squash and a volunteer winter squash of some sort from the garden ready to bake. May roast a pan of onions and peppers ready to eat as sweet caramelized treats and to go in other things too, and will add the one tiny fairy tale eggplant I found on a forlorn plant last week. Have potatoes for salad and to saute.
For fresh fruits I have apples, blueberries, and concord grapes. I've baked some apples and made a crisp topping separately so I can package it to stay crisp. Later in the season I hope I get around to drying apples. Also have canned pineapple in the cupboard. Walnuts.
The bacon ends I bought from Dakin Farms will last me for weeks. As is usual there are some chunks of solid smoked meat that I'll make something from, and may freeze a few pieces of bacon. Bought some ground turkey and eggroll wrappers to make potstickers. They're exactly the sort of bite-sized goodie I want in my bento box. Have a Hillshire Farms turkey kielbasa to cook with apples, onions, potatoes, sauerkraut and cheese. That will be supper, but I'll have left-overs. Then there are cheeses to cube as well. So I guess I ought to be set.