Bento box lunches: Cute, colorful and easy to make (really!)
This box features brightly colored food to make the lunch more attractive including carrot sticks, blueberries, grapes, cheesy popcorn and a cheese sandwich cut into a star. | Alyssa Schueneman~Sun-Times Media
Wendy Copley’s Favorite Bento Box Fillers
Whole grain bread
Goldfish crackers, cheddar bunnies or other snack crackers
Leftover pasta (toss with some chopped veggies, vinaigrette, salt and Parmesan)
Apple slices (dip in pineapple juice to prevent browning)
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
Sugar snap peas
Red bell pepper strips
Frozen peas (run them quickly under warm water to start them thawing)
Leftover meat from dinner (cut into chunks)
Chicken or turkey sausage with barbecue sauce or ketchup for dipping
Cheese (slices, cubes and sticks)
Updated: August 30, 2012 10:05AM
Say “sayonara” to boring old school lunches! This year try adding a little color and style to your kids’ midday meal with simple bento box meals that are as easy to make as they are cute.
Embrace the fun
Wendy Copley is a “Bento Box Sensei.” The mother of two and founder of wendolonia.com discovered her lunch-making ‘‘calling’’ a few years ago, after receiving a bento box as a Christmas gift. She instantly became hooked on the concept, which allowed her to make visually appealing meals that were fun, healthful and delicious. “I’ve always been creative, but once I had kids, I found it hard to make time for hobbies,” said Copley. “But with bento lunches, I can be as whimsical and creative as I like, while giving my family something they always need — a good meal!”
Have a few tools handy
When it comes to packing a bento lunch, anything goes. According to Copley there are a number of different companies that make Bento-inspired boxes; however buying a fancy box is not necessary. For a child’s lunch, Copley recommends using a plastic container that is roughly 4 x 6 inches wide and about 1 ½ inches deep. Although it seems small, it’s actually a great size, as you’ll be able to pack the box tightly, which will help prevent food from moving around while in transit. Copley also suggests using smaller containers such as mini plastic bowls or silicon baking cups, which are great for corralling small items such as peas, corn or grapes. To add interest and variety, use a sharp knife and/or cookie cutters to create intricate designs, shapes and details. Remember, the only thing standing in the way of you and a light saber made of cheese is a knife.
When it comes to making lunch, the biggest challenge is always choosing what to make. Creating bento lunches is slightly easier than their less-inspired counterpart because portions are small, which gives you more opportunity to experiment with flavors and textures. You can also get inspiration from various bento box websites such as wendolonia.com, where you can view the multitude of lunches Copley has packed for her family. Pinterest.com is another great place to go for inspiration, but be forewarned, it can be quite addicting.