I've posted before on ways to get away from the same-old, same old and bento certainly does that and more.
While in some cultures the parents (mainly moms) compete to make the most elaborate lunch for their child, for the most part bento making is becoming popular and more mainstream in different parts of the world for reasons other than status. Waste free lunchboxes and a chance to be creative are two of the main reasons I started. Plus, there are so many cute accessories you can buy. ;-)
Here is a short definition of bento or obento that I had posted previously on my food blog.
Obento is the Japanese word for packed lunch in a box and depending on where you look there are different rules for packing a bento box.One is that each meal is 4 parts grain, 3 parts protein, 2 parts fruit & veggie, 1 part pickled veggie or dessert.
Another would be that each box has to have each of 5 colors- red, yellow, green, light & dark.
Yet another would be 1/2 grain, 1/4 protein, 1/4 fruit & veggie.
I am going to go with the definition I most prefer, and that is a variety of (mostly) bite-sized food that is arranged in a way that is pleasing to the eye as well as the taste buds. Food art, if you will.
That being said, while we try to be a little adventurous with our eating, we have American palates so the bento boxes that I pack are definitely made with our tastes in mind.
Food is cut into bite sized pieces and arranged attractively. It can be anything from simple leftovers to hot-dog octopus or sushi or... the combinations really are endless.
Another thing I love about bento is that I can make it the night before (SO NOT A MORNING PERSON) pop it in the fridge and just have to set it by the door before the littles leave.
Here is a sample bento I made for the littlest diva- it looks like a lot of food, and it is but realize that she is 16 and she shares with her friends. Everyone thinks it is an extremely cool and fun way to get your meal and they all love to sample what she brings. This was very simple to make- sure it takes a few minutes longer to cut the cantaloupe with a cutter or thread the ham and cheese on little picks but it makes it more attractive and it really isn't that much work.
Clockwise is ham and cheese threaded onto picks with pimento stuffed olives on the end. (I just used a simple lowfat deli ham and cheddar and butterkrust cheeses.)
Cantaloupe cut into flowered shapes.
Lowfat vanilla yogurt with frozen blackberries.
Wheat thin flatbreads- garlic and parsley flavor.
Orange flavored craisins in the center.
All of this is packed in an attractive bento box with some beautiful fall leaves for the design but if you don't have and can't afford special containers you can easily pack the same meal into any type of reusable container. You can see several other varieties and samples of our bentos here and get more detailed instructions here.
I hope this has inspired you to try your hand at making bento for your kids or even for yourself.
I'm always looking for new ideas- what do you do to make your lunches fun and exciting?
Posted by Sherry of Loon-atics In The Kitchen
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