Ok so let me make clear that I am not an expert on fancy shmancy food presentation. However, after my experience last year with my then 1st grader coming home with untouched lunch I needed a solution for this year. I browsed the internet and stumbled across something really cool. Drum roll please....Bento box lunches! I admit I've seen this stuff many times before and would pay little
attention because I just always assumed it was too complicated and time consuming and did I mention complicated? Yeah so I finally explored this idea of making bento style lunches a bit more and came to the conclusion that it's actually easy, pretty (which can be quite irresistible to picky eaters), can be quite healthy, and fun to prepare!
If you don't know what bento even means, here is a quick run down straight from a really user friendly site called Lunch In a Box:
A bento lunch is a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box. Historically, it’s a Japanese box lunch, similar in concept to the Indian tiffin, the Korean dosirak, or the Filipino baon lunch. In Japanese, “bento” or “obento” refers to the packed meal, and “bento-bako” refers to the bento box itself.
I was really inspired by all of the info out there. I even purchased a book for just 10 bucks that seemed like an easy beginners guide for making these things. I learned that you can really pack whatever you want in a bento lunch (Any cuisine) and you can even salvage dinner leftovers in a bento lunch. There are so many possibilities! I even learned about how to make rice balls and sushi with whatever fillings I wanted. Molds for making shapes are really inexpensive and can be found on Amazon. I encourage you to check out the link above to Lunch In a Box and also find a book to help start you off. I purchased a book called Yum-Yum Bento Box just because it was inexpensive and I saw good reviews on Amazon for this. It gives a good list of supplies/accessories to use for making the various shapes and for cutting the foods. I really like that the book also gives prep times for the different lunches and lots of pictures.
FYI- I'm not getting any kind of pay or incentive for sharing this info. This is all out of my own desire to just share something that is working for me. There are a ton of other bento making books too that you can research on Amazon or just the internet in general. I just like to look at the reviews to see what other people think. As far as finding a bento box or lunch container to do this with, just check out the links above as well. As for myself, I use Planet Box. This is a really cool stainless steel (dishwasher safe!) lunch box that can serve as a bento box and my kids absolutely love it. So far (knock on wood), this whole bento adventure is a success!
Hope you like this post and give this a shot. If you have suggestions or knowledge on making bento lunches,please do share! I would love to know more so please please leave a comment! Good luck!
Here is something you can do with simple hotdogs (I used the Hebrew National brand, but you can use just about any knid). I made a face on one and the other I just wrapped some nori around. There is an even cuter way to make these...In the pic above I just cut the hot dog in half the long way then split open down the middle. From there I just slit like three lines along the bottoms for the legs...or whatever they are...lol. The idea is so that you have something that will look like an octopus. After cutting the hot dog, you can boil or lightly fry until the leggy things curl. I wrapped some fried egg around mine with nori and this could go in a bento with rice balls and whatever else you would like.
This wasn't the best explanation so here is a link that explain better:
For the octodog (hot dog octopus)