I've been doing similar things for 3 years now. It takes me about 10 minutes at night to cut up fruit and veg and put them in a container for the next days lunch. In the AM, make a simple sandwich and take 2 more seconds to use a sandwich cutter to cut it up. I only do a "fancy" bento when I have an extra 10 minutes in the morning, and I have it planned, and often prepped the night before. The idea of using bento is so your child eats healthy, balanced meals. I found my child's fruit and veg intake has increased dramatically just by doing small portions in her lunch. I doubt any bento mama does the fancy stuff on a daily basis but once every week or two is not out of line if you have the time. If you don't, don't bother. I find it takes me no more time to use a pretty cutter to cut melon out of a slice than it does, if I cut it out with a knife. Same amount of time, but prettier result. See?
Sometimes I use sandwich boxes, the sandwich goes in one, and fruit/veg in another. I've found inexpensive boxes at Target, and have used Sassy boxes (for toddlers- one large divided bin that has 3 smaller lidded containers inside- got via Amazon or ToysRUs). I don't use traditional bento boxes because I stink at packing tight and I find them too small. AllThingsforSale has lots of options as well. Really you can use anything that has a tight fitting lid.
Someone has way to much time on their hands. I would have just enough time too throw a sandwich, some sliced carrots or fruit into a box and call it a day. Sorry no time to decorate each sandwich and make characters out of the food. Guess that is why my kids eat at school, much more convenient and less stress for me especially since I have 6 kids!
Moms what bento boxes do you use? I'm looking for thrifty ones for my twin boys?
very cute but seriously unrealistic, especially for a single mom who works full time.
I usually use this thermos bento box!It is really good , especially for winter.http://bit.ly/VCfXqb
Who has time for this? I think it is great idea but I am a single working military mom. I don't have time to dye cheese or cut bread into shapes.
these all look really nice -- but when i sent my little one for her first day of JK, 1-hour prepared cute lunch turned to mush in 2 seconds! how do you 'CLOSE' these guys up without them moving around or a pirate all of a sudden looking like Hannibal?
love all these ideas- THANK YOU!!
ummmm... too much time on your hands
What wonderful lunches! These are filled with great ideas!
seriously? cute, yes. realistic, no. unless of course, family resides in pleasantville.
Cute--just like the nutty stuff I used to do with my kids when they were little. No sense NOT having fun when you can. Incidentally, as my mom has gotten older, her appetite has waned--when I make her "cute" food in small portions--she eats it all!
Uwajimaya is a great place to find bento boxes and containers with interesting dividers. Storables could also be an option. Much as I'd love to get this creative with lunches, I don't know if I ever will - but it is definitely inspiring, and if nothing else it gives good ideas for how to get the right elements into the lunchbox in a fun way.
That's too cute! It sounds like (comment below) there is a Japanese dollar store in Alderwood Mall that offers bento supplies, they might be there! Good luck with your lunch-making adventures -- and we'll be featuring more beautiful bento boxes soon! :)
So blown away on the first view days ago, I had to revisit. As a new-to-making school lunches mom, I saw these and thought I was living on another planet. Turns out, I am...but so are lots of others (thank you, for that!). THIS time through, they all just look like beautiful art to me, inspiring and with possibilities for small attempts. And now I want to know...WHERE can I get some of those incredibly cute giraffe & elephant skewers?!
My daughter loves it when I throw in the odd bento-inspired food item - current favorite is ham and cheese sandwiches cut out with a bunny cookie cutter, with eyes and a nose, and an egg in a bunny shape. I've got containers from the pharmacy dollar aisle just the right size for half a sandwich and a cookie. I can also fit in three silicone cupcake molds. She can easily open the containers and they stack perfectly in her lunchbox. Bento stuff is soooo expensive, but I hit the Japanese dollar store at the Alderwood Mall this week, and found little face seaweed punches (eyes and smile), silicone shape molds for bento boxes, bento boxes, cutting tools, egg molds, etc for $1.50 each. It's worth a few extra minutes to bento-ize at least one or two items - it never returns uneaten.
unrealistic to keep these forms till lunch! By the time my son's lunch box makes it from the car to the classroom, from the schoolroom to the lunch bin (where kids throw their lunchboxes) and then from the bin to the cafeteria table - no cute shapes like this can survive!
Inspiring photos - good ideas - and I just enjoy viewing the wide range of what can be done, if you want.Our family barely gets out the door in time for school with something edible!
I love them. We don't go that far but we do cut out sandwiches with cookie cutters and other things like cheese cut outs, etc. I love bento lunches but not enough time to make them that nice. I prob would do it for special lunches though with the time and equipment. At least bento lunches are not wasting plastic and paper baggies.
Its really up to the parent - I enjoy making bentos but agree that its time consuming. My daughter now makes her own bentos. She is of japanese descent so its of interest to her. She always eats all her lunch too, which is a big plus.
I love each and everyone of these. Yeah, it might be over the top, but once in awhile makes it a fun lunch surprise.
someone has too much time on their hands....cute as can be but would never withstand the lunchbox, maybe better for a playdate lunch
Great ideas and looks so tasty too. I wish somebody would make my lunch look this good!
If you've got a young swashbuckler at home that would give anything to trade in his schoolwork for an eye patch, consider making up a special pirate bento box lunch, like this one shown on Bento Lunch.
For this pirate-y fun meal, mama Shannon made a taco muffin (recipe included in the post) with white cheddar cheese on top for the pirate's face, along with an orange cheddar bandanna. The pirate's one good eye is made with icing and his eye patch, mustache and mouth are all made out of cucumber. Throw in some veggies and fruits and you've got a well-balanced lunch that's fit to sail the seven seas!
Swimming with the Fishes
In honor of Boy's Day (A Japanese holiday also known as Children's Day that takes place on May 5), mama Susan of Hawaii's Bento Box Cookbook made her son these adorable fish sandwiches to resemble carp.
For this cute and quick lunch, she simply used a sandwich with an oat bran hamburger bun, mozzarella and olives for the eyes, American cheese for the gills and heart-shaped carrots for the tails. And for a colorful final touch, the lunch includes a couple of strawberries and a cherry tomato that's straight from the garden. Also don't miss the lunch-time lion included in this post -- you'll be wanting to make it in no time!
Super Nice Rice
Bento Monsters features this gorgeous bento box lunch with a super cute rice elephant that we couldn't resist sharing!
Made using a rice coloring packet, this edible little elephant has a light purple color and features what we believe to be nori for its eyes and trunk detail, with white cheese cut-outs on the ears. Be sure to check out the rest of this post for more great photography and a quick and easy snack idea.
A Very Hungry Caterpillar
Based on the much-loved, classic children's book by Eric Carle, this muffin tin lunch pays homage to everyone's favorite hungry caterpillar -- and his infamous lunch!
Featured on Sugary Flower, this cool muffin tin lunch was made with the exact same treats that the very hungry caterpillar munched his way through -- including an apple, pears, strawberries, plums, oranges, a tummy ache-inducing feast and one bright big green (spinach) leaf. And not to mention, the caterpillar, himself, is included as a rice cracker cut-out. Such a neat idea for a fun, creative lunch!
Ladybugs for Lunch
We tend to have an infinite love for ladybugs and this idea from Hawaii's Bento Box Cookbook is no exception.
Mama Susan made an easy ham and cheese sandwich and transformed it into this lovely little ladybug by simply using a cookie cutter, cheddar cheese on top and buggy icing eyes. Also included on this lunch menu are mandarin oranges and seedless grapes. We must say -- this is one meal that we wouldn't mind occasionally having ourselves!
Send your little one back to school in style this year with a cool school-themed bento box lunch, like this one featured on Bento-logy.
Mama Caren made this neat "pencil" out of a stacked turkey sandwich with cheddar and provolone cheese on top. The eraser is a pink marshmallow and the tip of the pencil has been colored in with food-safe black marker. And to finish off this cool school meal, there's a couple of Hershey's Kisses from mom, along with carrots and ranch dip and some delicious grapes.
Down on the Farm
Once again inspired by a fun children's book, Sugary Flower made this muffin tin lunch for her daughter based on one of her favorite reads -- Chicken, Pig, Cow Horse Around by Ruth Ohi.
Included in this farm-tastic lunch are the main characters: Chicken (made with edible marker and cheese), Cow (edible marker and a rice cracker), Pig (rice cracker, edible marker and ham -- naturally!) and Horse (edible marker and a jam sandwich). There's also a couple grapes thrown in, along with an Easter egg goldfish. All in all, a perfect lunch for the tots that know and love this book dearly!
For the Birds
As everyone knows, Angry Birds has been all the rage in the past couple years... So we weren't surprised to see this adorable Angry Birds bento box featured on Bento-logy.
The Angry Bird characters are sitting upon a stacked sandwich and are made using dyed provolone cheese, cheddar, icing eyes and cucumber peel. And we'll be the first to say it -- they look almost exactly like the actual characters! Also included in this cool bento box lunch are tomato and cucumber slices, blackberries and raspberries and couple Hershey's Kisses just from mom. (We have no doubt that this meal probably caused a little bit of envy at the school lunch table!)
Muffin Tin Mom features this fun idea for making a "5 Little Monkeys" numbers and counting-themed lunch -- and we like it so much, that this is actually the second time that we've featured it.
But regardless of our love for lunch box learning, this meal is a hands-down top pick for little ones. (They can count their way through lunch, all while singing the well-known numbers rhyme!) This muffin tin includes peanut butter roll-up and broccoli "trees," banana slices, five cheese cubes on food picks, baby carrot "alligator teeth," sprinkles hidden in monkey containers and a monkey face made with an orange, fruit leather and apple slices.
Teddy Bear Picnic
Talk about playing with your food! We absolutely love this adorable teddy bear bento box lunch featured on Bento Monsters.
Made using mini sausages, food picks and what we assume is cheese and nori, these darling little bears are sure to be a complete hit with your tots. Also included in this bento box are mini sealed sandwiches and meatballs. Be sure to check out the rest of the Bento Monsters' website -- there are oodles of neat lunch ideas that are sure to help inspire your own bento box adventures.
Bad to the Bone
Got a wild child on your hands? Maybe this "bad to the bone" muffin tin lunch is exactly what they need!
Featured on Cookie Cutter Lunch, this neat muffin tin meal includes a bone-shaped sammy, pretzels, Scooby graham cracker snacks, bone-shaped cucumbers and mini watermelon bones. Like we said -- totally bad to the bone!
We could not resist sharing this fantastic elephant bento box lunch featured over on Bento Lunch. Tiny edible elephants -- um, yes, please!
This excellent elephant meal offers chicken salad tortilla roll-ups, plenty of yummy fruits and carrots, animal crackers and a cheese-y elephant with a bright blue icing eye for a nice finished touch. Too cute!
Though Muffin Tin Mom made this cute lunch with an April theme for Easter, we think it's one that will go down as a top choice among young bunny lovers for any time of the year.
This muffin tin lunch includes carrot sticks, mozzarella cheese circles, cheddar bunnies, gummy treats, bunny-shaped apple slices and a simple, yet bunny fabulous ham and cheese sandwich. Absolutely perfect for that special little somebunny in your life!
Crazy about Trains
Got a pint-sized choo choo lover at home? Consider making your own train-themed bento box lunch like this one shown on Bento Lunch.
In honor of Meatless Monday (though they celebrated on a Tuesday), mama Shannon made her little train fanatic this super cute veggie-friendly lunch. The bento box includes a mini banana muffin, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, a sliced hard-boiled egg and a cream cheese and strawberry jam mini pita sammy... With a cheese train on top to boot!
Whale of a Lunch
And yet another lunch-time gem from Sugary Flower, we can't get enough of this "Baby Beluga" themed muffin tin lunch!
Centered around the famous children's song, this super cool muffin tin meal features a fish stick, yogurt with edible glitter, a veggie beluga sandwich, apple dolphin slices with sprinkle eyes, pineapple slices and a moon with stars made out of cheese.
Now we just want to know -- where was this lunch idea when we were growing up?
When You Need a Little Sunshine
Bent On Better Lunches features this fantastic idea for a "You are my sunshine" bento box lunch. (How sweet is that?)
Perfect for a gloomy day, we love this lunch's bright and warm sunny colors and the fun sun burst shapes included. This bento box features sunshine-shaped quesadillas, cheddar suns, Sun Chips, raisins, an orange, honey-roasted peanuts and Teddy Grahams.
How's that for bringing in a little sunshine?
This Domo-kun bento box lunch featured on Happy Little Bento is absolutely too cool not to share.
Well-known as the official mascot of Japan's NHK television station, Domo-kun is known for being a small, brown, open-mouthed monster. (We also love it because it reminds us of a Little Big Planet character.) The look-alike sammy was made using rye bread with grapes for eyes, mozzarella cheese for the teeth and a plum for the mouth. Also included in this awesome bento box: peaches, nectarines, grapes, raspberries, snap peas, broccoli and carrots. Pretty darn cute if you ask us!
If your little one loves all things when it comes to life in the sea, consider making an "under the sea" muffin tin lunch like this one shown on Bent On Better Lunches.
Included in this fun maritime meal: ramen "waves," a turkey "octodog," canteloupe starfish, a clownfish gummy on a bed of sea urchins (sliced grapes) and "baby" goldfish that are topped with a reigning cheddar "mama" fish. Perfect for some seafaring fun with your little one and overall, an excellent way to start a conversation about our friends that live under the sea.
Bento Lunch's mama Shannon explains that she made this foxy bento box meal for her kids before a long road trip when stopping for lunch wasn't going to be an option.
Though her daughter thought it looked more like a cat and her son thought it resembled a chihuahua (too funny), we agree that it looks like a fox -- though it could go either way. (Throw on a couple of whiskers and you'd be in business for a kitty!) Included in this "on the road" bento box lunch: strawberry yogurt, cantaloupe and a ham and cheese sandwich on a multigrain round, topped with a fox face made with strawberry ears, white cheddar eyes and blueberry fruit leather for the nose, mouth and pupils.
As the old saying goes, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince!"
Needles to say, we love this "frog prince" muffin tin lunch featured on Cookie Cutter Lunch.
Included in this froggie fun muffin tin meal: Sun Chips, Hershey's Kisses (gotta have those kisses for your prince), carrot sticks with ranch, grapes, crown-shaped cheese slices and a frog-shaped sandwich with icing eyes and fruit leather for the crown and mouth. We can't get enough of that little crown -- the fruit leather gives it that nice shiny touch and from the picture, it almost looks bedazzled. And of course, by all means, it's certainly fit for a prince.