Good Things Come in Small Tightly Packed Lunches

I don't know why but I have become slightly obsessed with making cute Bento lunches for my daughter. Maybe it is my fascination with "cute" food, maybe my love for Asian cuisine? Maybe it gives me a reason to go to Japan Town and buy the cutest little lunch time items. Or maybe I think if I make cute food, she will eat it? Either way now that we are in Kindergarten my lunch making had gotten a bit out of hand!  I mean not totally out of hand but I do try to get creative with the same old ingredients.  A peanut butter and jelly is so 7o's, I mean really a sandwich can be so much more. A flower shape or cut into tiny little blocks all stacked up in Bento box. 

There a are cutters for Nori that are fun to use, and cute little silicone cups to put food into.
If we make rice then she gets a tiny soy sauce dispenser to season the rice with. There are countless ways to decorate Bento lunches, like thin egg omelets, as a base and sliced veggies as eyes and whiskers.  You can write a cute rhyme to go with your bento too, like; carrots are orange, kitties are fuzzy, hope lunch time is great and you are real cozy! (OK, maybe poetry is not my strong point but you get the idea, right?) 
I like Bento boxes because you can put an array of foods. We waste so much food in our culture, so I have been trying to use up small amounts that otherwise would go in the trash.  Bento is designed to control portion size, It is a great way to use up small amounts of food, and are designed to pack tightly so the food stays put. I know that there are amazing Bento lunch makers out there and I hold you in great esteem. I don't aspire to ever be a Bento wiz but I sure do try.  
I thought I'd  put all my lunch time goodies out for you to see in these photos.
Here are many ways to spice up lunch with a some of the gadgets shown. 
  • Nori cut outs, crispy healthy seaweed cut using a paper punch style cutter.
  • Rice molded into cute shapes using rice molds.
  • Hard boiled eggs molded into shapes like squares, bunnies, cars. 
  • Rice rolls (sushi want to be) using sushi molds.
  • Veggies cut in shapes, slice veggies in wide strips, use tiny cookie cutters to make shapes.
  • Sandwiches cut in shapes.
  • Use silicone cupcake cups to pack bits of snack food in.
  • Use wood or biodegradable spoons.
  • Use small containers for sprinkles, seeds or seasonings, soy sauce or ketchup
  • Use reusable food separators, like the fake grass you get at a Sushi bar.
  • Send fabric napkins with cute patterns.
  • Themed lunches, like round, or one color only are fun too.
  • Add a note from home.
  • Pack it all in a great Bento box!!

Other foods that fit in a Bento box:
Stuffed Pasta
Dried fruit
Sliced fruit
Thin no cheese omelet, rolled up and sliced
Cubed cheese 
Romaine leaves
Plain water chestnuts
French toast
Mini drumsticks
Rolled cold cuts 
Mini pickles
Tiny tuna sandwiches
Cheese and crackers

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Darth Mama said...

I would love to see some of your bentos....

Trish said...

I've never even heard of Bento Boxes!

Tiffany said...

I've never heard of Bento boxes but what you have shown looks so cute! I'd love to learn more about them.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I got really obsessed with making bento lunches for my boys after I started blogging. It's dangerously addictive!

Curious said...

I love the idea of cutting sandwiches or vegetables into fun shapes, but I can't help but wonder what happens to all the scraps and crusts. I can't imagine you just throw them away?

Jennifer Carden said...

Good point Curious...well, the veggie scraps go into a bag in my freezer and I use them for soups and stocks. Mostly the sandwich scraps get nibbled on. Depending on whether the bread is clean, I put it towards bread crumbs!

Megan said...

Oh my those are adorable, and look like so much fun!!

Brenda Morton said...

I started doing a bento box for my daughter's lunches this year and am always on the look-out for new components. I love the idea of using seeds or sprinkles. One of her favorite treats is tiny two-bite jello with fruit that I found in the Asian section at the store. I also found great plastic cupcake pics from Wilton in cute shapes/colors that are perfect for dried apricots, blueberries or cheese/ham cubes.