Welcome to the fun world of bento making! Bento means "lunch" in Japanese. In general, bento lunches contain 3 parts: 1 part protein, 1 part carb (rice), and 1 part veggies. Though people of all ages use bentos, this guide is dedicated to building children bentos, using fun shapes and animal characters.
The container Bento boxes are small. Often no longer than a soda can. The key to building a bento is compacting a lot of food into a small container. When starting out, look for a two tier bento. Two tiers will allow you separate types of food, while providing additional room for your goodies.
Other reusables - Reduce lunch waste Bentos help reduce lunch waste. Providing your child with reusable components allows you to stop the use of plastic baggies, utensils, disposable napkins, and drink containers.
Let's create! Mold an egg: Kotobuki Plastic Egg Mold, Rabbit and Bear Don't be intimidated by these egg molds, they are very easy to use. Boil your eggs as usual. My process is to cover the eggs with cold water in a pot, let the pot boil, set the timer for 5 minutes, turn the stove off and let the eggs sit for 5 more minutes. Then I peel the eggs while hot. At this point you can dye the eggs by setting them in warm water with 2 drops of food coloring. While the egg is still hot, place the egg, big side pointing downward in the mold, and squeeze the mold shut. Place in your fridge overnight. And in the morning, you have a perfectly shaped bunny egg!
Make cute sandwich shapes! This is one of my favorite sandwich cutters: Sandwich Cutter It maximizes the bread space. Think out of the box on this cutter, that bear can be a frog if you place eyes where the bear's ears are located. The cat can be a mouse.
Go crazy with the cookie cutters. Any cookie cutters will do for cutting bread and fruit, though the metal cutters work the best. These cutters are specially designed for vegetables, and are sharper than something meant for dough or fondant: Kotobuki Set of 6 Small Stainless Vegetable Cutters Use these to cut shapes in deli meat, fruit, or even as rice molds!
This is the absolute best face punch available, hands down. It is a good solid punch with a variety of cut outs that you can mix and match to create the perfect face: Kai FG5103 Chuboos Nori Punch For Decorating This punch is a must have for bento making!
Keep in mind that your bentos don't have to be rice and sushi. Cute bento boxes are created out of regular pb-n-j's or left over lasagna. The point is to have fun creating and bring a smile to your child's face during lunchtime. Go try it!