Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bento Basics - Part One

making lunch fun bentos
A few years ago I saw some cute lunches called bentos online and thought they would be fun to make for my daughter. I was familiar with the term bento from living in Hawaii and traveling in Asia. I loved the cute spin that I was seeing on these boxed lunches. As we approached Kindergarten, I decided that I was going to make cute bentos for my daughter's lunch each day. I wanted her to be eating a full, healthy lunch and to feel comforted by being apart during the day with my loving gesture.

I am starting this series of tips here at Diana Rambles called Bento Basics to teach others how to make sure your child is eating healthy with fun lunches.

Tip: Introduce new foods by making their food fun! I didn't want to be sending junk food in my daughter's lunch, so when I give her new foods or ones she's not a fan of, I make them cute by using a cookie cutter, decorating, or making it fun.
how to make bentos
Nutella introduced in a butterfly shaped sandwich. Skewered blueberries adds to the fun!
fish cute fun bentos
Introduced cantaloupe (starfish) and edamame in this under the sea themed bento.
cute butterfly bentos basics
My daughter won't eat peas at dinner, but she will in a cute lunch!
Tip: Making cute lunches doesn't have to be expensive! You don't need a lot of gadgets to make lunch cute. While there are lots of bento supplies out there, you can use simple containers, cookie cutters, and even make your own food picks.
on the go bento
Disposable restaurant container used for a road trip bento for my teen son.
muffin tin meal bento
Daddy-Daughter dance theme in a muffin tin for lunch at home. Silicone liners from Dollar Tree.
angry birds bento rubbermade
Angry Birds packed in a Rubbermade container. Nori (wrapper used in sushi) for black accents.
Tip: Don't worry if your creation isn't as cute as those online! There are a lots of very cute & creative bentos out there. Don't get hung up on how cute or fun yours are. You only have 1 person to impress and that's your kid or whomever you are making the bento for. Here are a few of my less than perfect lunches that my daughter adored.
my first bento lunch
This was my very first bento.
fun panda lunch bento
My panda turned out kind of creepy, but she loved it!
basic bento lunch pack
This is supposed to be a flower garden.
If you have any questions, please leave them as a comment. I will reply below each comment. I may include some of the questions in upcoming parts of this series.
This post was featured at~
Bowdabra Blog
My Turn for usFollowing In My ShoesVioletsBuds

Diana is a crafty creative Midwestern work from home mama of 3. She enjoys playing with PhotoShop Elements, sewing & crafting, creating fun for family & friends, camping, and reading. She is the owner & operator of Custom Blog Designs.

You can follow Diana via Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram

101 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Rina! I've posted a few (not very pretty) bentos lately and I got a lot of comments so I thought I need to enlighten my readers about bentos. I'm just going to keep it very basic!! Many people aren't familiar with our bento world!

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  2. These are so cute! I am very interested in this food craft, if only to fill the lunch boxes I have at home for the occasional full days my grandkids spend with me. I like how yours include food that's common. I've been intimidated by the exotic, hard to find things in other tutorials.

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    1. I am too busy to do really intricate things on a regular basis. I like keeping it quick & simple! It's possible to have fun with food without a lot of fancy tools!! I bet you can come up with some great ideas cause you are the Grandma that I aspire to be someday!

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  3. Oh, my, goodness. Your children carry works of art to school for their lunches. What a fun idea...although I cannot imagine doing that on a daily basis myself.

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    1. How about using cookie cutters for a fun shaped sandwich or mini fruit or veggie kabobs on tooth picks. Fun can be easy!!

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    2. I love all of your creative bentos. My step son is too old for a cutsie lunch, but I plan on making him ,(and myself) healthy bentos for lunch this summer when he stays with us.

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    3. How old is he? I've made them for my teen boys!!

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    4. He's 12, but he acts much older than that. I might be able to get away with something boyish. He just got diagnosed allergic to wheat, corn, soy, peanuts, walnuts, and tomato. It sucks! I fed a ton of peanut butter n jelly sandwiches all last summer.

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    5. A lot of bento mamas have kids with allergies!

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  4. Thanks for the tips! I just purchased a few things to get started on making "cute" lunches. I'd love it if you'd share your ideas at Off the Hook!

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    1. Can't wait to see what you come up with. I'm headed over now!

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  5. Those are amazing! I want my lunch in one of those cute Bento boxes! Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. I do have several cute boxes, but my favorites are just small basic containers!

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  6. These are so great.. My son would LOVE the car sandwich :) I've got to get better about making meal time more fun for my little guy.. thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. My son was 13 when he had that car sandwich and LOVED it! It doesn't have to be fancy, but he will love you for it!

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  7. super super cute! I'd love for you to share this at my link party! http://www.addhousewife.com/2013/02/happy-pininspiration-thursday.html

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  8. You're right, Diana....these are great! My kids would have so much fun with them (and me too!) Thanks for sharing the how-to's! :)
    Cathy @ Lemon Tree Dwelling

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Cathy! I'll have the 2nd part sometime in the next few weeks.

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  9. You my dear rock! I keep seeing these amazing creations on Pinterest, saved a few but haven't done anything yet. I may just have to give it a whirl!

    Thanks for the cool ideas :)

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    1. You are one creative mama, so you could do this. Doesn't even need to be fancy. Get some cookie cutters of your son's favorite and they will LOVE what you do!!

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  10. Wow, Diana, they are impressive. I have always loved looking at Bento meals but they seem intimidating to me. You make it sound easy and do-able. How do you keep them from tipping and getting messed up in the carrying them to school?
    I would love if you would share this at my new link party. http://www.realcoake.blogspot.com/2013/02/real-family-fun-2.html
    Have a great night.
    KC

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    1. Outside of the muffin tin meal pictured, I send all the lunches to school. I have a few lunch bags with a wide bottom that help keep things in place. Sometimes I will stuff a little seran wrap in before the lid to hold it in place, but for the most part it stays unless it gets tipped over in the classroom lunch basket. My daughter is pretty careful about it. The bigger issue is keeping it from getting soggy. I will use those silicone cupcake liners or other simple plastic containers to keep something like a cut fruit away from bread. I'll discuss this in part 2! Thanks for the invite!

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    2. Very neat to understand how it works and the saran wrap trick. Since, we homeschool, I'm sure I could create these kinds of meals on a plate. I am just not sure I am creative enough with food. It sure looks great though.
      Thanks so much for coming by and linking up.
      KC

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    3. You are creative enough! It doesn't have to be fancy. Just start cutting some stuff with cookie cutters and see what your girls think. They are old enough to get involved with making their own lunches!

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  11. Diane, I am really fascinated with the concept of Bento and am really interested at trying my hand at this, so I truly enjoyed your article, and look forward to reading the rest of your posts in the series as well!

    I would love for you to share this with us at Inspire Me Monday. Who knows, I may even start my own Bento Board on Pinterest! :-)

    Create With Joy
    http://create-with-joy.com

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    1. I'll be there because I never miss your party! Go for it on the Pinterest board. Once you explore then you will see that my bento skills are just OK. There are some FANCY ones out there!!

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  12. These are all cute, and I like your msg. that the creations don't have to be Martha Stewart pretty, just good enough that your child will like/appreciate the lunch. :)

    Visiting your post from Thursday's Favorite Things. :)

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    1. Absolutely Rosey!! I'll never be Martha but my kid sure knows that she is special!

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  13. so cool, diana! so i get that bentos are fun, creative ways to present the lunches but what exactly is the meaning of bento? is it a brand of sold, fun lunches???

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    1. It originates from Japan and it's a small boxed take out lunch or one from home. You can find these little boxed lunches for sale all over. Kyara-ben are the cute characters, often make out of rice, that are popular. People outside Japan and really expanded on that idea of making lunch fun and ideas/creativity have run wild. I love many of the supplies I have gotten from Japanese stores. My sister lives near a Japanese dollar store in the Bay Area and has picked up some supplies for us. Any container works, I just prefer that they are not too big!

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  14. What a fun idea! I love the Angry Bird design. How cool would that be to take to school for lunch!

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    Replies
    1. I've done Hello Kitty, Nian Cat, Pokemon, and some other fun characters too!

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  15. Cute Angry Birds! These are really good tips, especially the one about it not having to be perfect. My son is impressed with just about anything. Though he won't eat food if I put a face on it! Oh, I have a good example of the imperfect cute food being totally cool principle...my son loved this: http://play-trains.com/a-new-coat-of-paint-for-breakfast-james-eggs-and-thomas-toast/

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    1. That is awesome Jessica! You made him happy and he ate his food! That is what matters!! I do think that some of the faces I've made are creepy! LOL!

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  16. Hi I am a new follower to your lovely blog (Via GFC)and it really feel pleasure meeting new awesome bloggers like you. Found you through Freedom Fridays.

    my blog: www.wilsontom.blogspot.com

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  17. what great ideas! I'm a new follower, and I found your blog at Parlo & Logi
    have a great weekend!
    melanie
    http://violetsbuds.blogspot.com/

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  18. Such cute ideas! Makes me want to have cold lunch myself! Thanks for the tips Diana.

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    Replies
    1. Yes...you can make them for YOU too! What a fun way to enjoy a lunch break at work!

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  19. I love these cute ideas. I wish I could be that creative for my kids :). Thanks for sharing at Pinworthy Projects.

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    Replies
    1. It's easy with things like cookie cutters. It doesn't have to be fancy for your kids to love it!

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  20. Great post Diana! I've been wanting to try out Bento Style lunches for my kids. This is a great primer!

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  21. Hi Diana!
    Thanks so much for sharing these at Marvelous Mondays! I don't have any kids but I sure would make some of these for myself and my boyfriend for our lunches for work. These are awesome!

    Have a great week. :)

    Julie

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  22. thanks for showing this, Diana, I never knew what Bento was. Now I do and it's cute as candy!! Take care, Linda

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  23. Such a super cute idea! I would totally love to eat a fun lunch like that everyday!
    Thanks for linking up to the Pinworthy Projects Party again this week!

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  24. Such cute ideas! I make my kiddos a muffin tin meal every weekend, but have been wanting to do something "packable" during the week to take to school/daycare. Love the Angry birds! :) Stopping by from the Piggy in Polka Dots party!

    Beth
    www.structureinanunstructuredlife.com

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  25. So cute! Kids love this. Thanks for linking up at Show Me Your Plaid Monday's!

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  26. I love your creative bentos! They are so cute and fun.

    Shannon @ Sewing Barefoot

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  27. Adorable! You inspire me to try new things! Thanks for linking up at Family Fun Friday! http://happyandblessedhome.com
    Sincerely,
    Monica

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  28. I've got school lunches to look forward to next year - I hope I can muster this level of creativity because I know my daughter would love it. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. It doesn't take a lot for your kids to love them!

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  29. They are all so totally cute!! & I don't think that your panda is creepy at all. I'm stopping by from Adorned From Above blog hop.
    Thanks
    Angie
    godsgrowinggarden.com

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  30. So THAT's what Bento's are! I keep seeing posts for them but couldn't figure out what exactly it was. How fun!! You're such a cool mom :)

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    Replies
    1. You can make them for adults. I bet your new hubby would love one!

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  31. Amazing, and I agree, cute food really does work!
    Thanks for sharing on Tutorial Thursdays.
    x
    Natalie
    www.marigoldsloft.blogspot.com

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  32. Love the angry bird lunch! Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

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  33. I've always wanted to get into the Bento thing. So fun!! Thanks for showing that it is so much easier than you'd think! So glad you shared this at Artsy Corner :)

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  34. Such fabulously fun lunches!! I found you at Whip it up Wednesday. Your blog is delightful and I'm a new follower. Thanks for stopping by my place when you have a chance. ~ Blessings, Tracey

    http://gracescraps.blogspot.com/

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  35. So much fun! I bet the kids love them.Too bad Sammie is getting a bit older or I would of done this for her. Thanks for sharing & linking up @ DearCreatives.com Hope your having a great week!

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  36. So, so cute! Glad you shared this link last weekend at The Best Blog Recipes @The Weekend re-Treat!

    Hope to see you link up again this weekend!

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  37. One of our favorite sushi restaurants offer bento boxes for lunch. I love the variety at lunch! Thanks for sharing with us at Real Housemoms for Fabulous Fridays!

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    Replies
    1. That's awesome! I wish a restaurant did that around here.

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  38. Thank you so much for sharing this post in our weekly Crafty Showcase. Congrats it was one of our Bowdabra Designers top picks of the week and you are being featured. Stop over and see your feature - http://bowdabrablog.com/2013/03/01/feature-friday-bowdabra-top-crafty-showcase-picks-37/

    These little bento lunches are AWESOME!!! What great ideas!

    Have a super weekend!

    Susie @Bowdabra

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  39. I always learn something new from you. Thank you! Thanks for sharing at Fluster's Creative Muster. I'm looking forward to seeing what you link up next week.

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  40. Thank you for sharing Diana! I used to do this for my first two kiddos when they began school but back then I had know idea it was a food craft! I just love them and wanted them to eat healthy and have a fun and loving lunch. I have been seeing this term "bento" floating around the web and wondered what it was. My 3rd, and last baby :( is starting Kindergarten this year and I will probably be sending him to school with these lunches too! Thanks for sharing at Party In Polka Dots!

    Shelley
    piggyinpolkadots.com

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    Replies
    1. It's a great way to help your Kindergartener get adjusted to school and to eat properly!

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  41. Hi Diana,

    I am looking forward to giving these ideas a try!
    Congratulations - you've been featured this week at Inspire Me Monday at

    Create With Joy
    http://create-with-joy.com

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  42. I just pinned these and posted them on Facebook!! Thank you for sharing at Freedom Fridays and thank you for being one of my Five Faves this week!!

    Have an awesome day!!

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  43. How fun! Thanks so much for linking this up at my Show Off Your Shell Party!

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  44. This is amazing, Diana. You are so creative. If I had discovered Bentos when my boy was school age, he would have LOVED it!

    Many blessings, Sinea from Ducks ‘n a Row

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  45. So glad you joined me for the Monday Kid Corner party. If you haven’t linked up today, we’re live at www.mondaykidcorner.blogspot.com.

    Jennifer
    www.thejennyevolution.com

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