Bento… have you heard the word before? Yes, it’s a fun word, but it’s also an amazing way of doing lunch (or snacks). I’ve been so inspired recently by blogs like Bento-logy, Meet the Dubiens and Another Lunch seeing how other moms make lunches for their kids. Bento is basically a Japanese concept of a visually appealing meal packed into a single container. What that means for me as a mother is making healthy lunches that look as good as they taste. At first I was intimidated by the concept. I thought it would take a lot of extra time, but in reality it’s not time consuming as long as I plan the weeks lunches in advance so I know I’ll have the different elements on hand.
My first step was buying some boxes. I found some great square containers at the dollar store. All four sides lock down and they are deep enough for what I need. These boxes fit in the bottom of the kids’ lunchbags so they were perfect to start with. If you are looking for bento boxes, Amazon has some fun choices as does All Things for Sale. I also purchased these EasyLunchBoxes from Amazon, but they are too big to carry in the kids’ lunchbags. I want to buy the EasyLunchBox carrying bags (which are really inexpensive) but I haven’t got around to it yet so we just use these for the weekends right now. Basically when you are choosing a box you want something that will be able to fit upright in your lunch container. You don’t want all your hard work to be tipped up and mixed up. I’m totally wanting these Lock and Lock boxes which have four removable trays and this Nibble Tray for my one year old.
Then I started getting the fun stuff. I have a huge box of cookie cutters that I’ve collected over the years and although these are great for cutting sandwiches and lunch meats, they weren’t that great for the small stuff. I ordered some smaller metal cutters (you could even use the ones they sell for fondant at Walmart or craft stores). I also found that silicone and paper baking cups are my friends. These are great to keep things compartmentalized which is kind of the point of bento. I’ve also collected different picks, sauce cups and other fun things to make the lunches more interesting. Again, All Things for Sale is a great resource, but you can find things at craft stores or Amazon. I found these great Star Wars cookie cutters at Williams-Sonoma. I was extra excited because they were 50% off and they make awesome sandwiches!
Can you see now why it’s easy to get a little obsessed? There are so many cool things out there!
Let me just say that my kids LOVE bento lunches! They’re so excited to open their boxes every day and even my picky 4 year old begs me “can we make bentos? Can we can we???”. I love seeing empty lunch boxes at the end of the day, knowing my children were happily gobbling up whatever was inside.
Some of my recent bentos are pictured below: