Guest Blog by: Midge
In my recent check-ins on Pinterest and throughout the Internet, I keep running into the term “Bento”. And the term has confounded me. What in the world is a bento and would using a bento really benefit my family?
I found this great link ~ CLICK HERE which helped explain the term bento. According to this article, ["Bento" originates from the Southern Song Dynasty slang term 便當 (pinyin: biàndāng), meaning "convenient" or "convenience."] It can be traced back through history possibly as early as 1185 AD. So, a Bento would basically be a convenient lunch box.
Personally, bento boxes remind me of a “Lunchable” with a bit more pizzazz! They certainly are a clever way to dress up your child’s or husband’s lunch and hopefully bring a smile to their face. I have seen a baby harp seal themed bento with the seals shaped out of sticky rice, a Perry the Platypus sandwich bento, a pretend kid’s sushi bento, and many more. The point of the bento is to create a clever design with your food or shape the food into animals, characters, or something fun. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating these “convenient” lunch bentos!
Midge’s Definition of “bento”: A small plastic container with a lid containing a cute assortment of cleverly designed food products with the main purpose of sharing a bit of love and happiness with the recipient while they eat lunch or a snack.
First, I had to chose a bento box but I did not buy a box specifically called bento, or just for use as a bento. I ended up picking a plastic container with a lid for about $6 at the local “mart of many discounts”. I also discovered I already had a great separated tray Tupperware container in my cupboard with a lid so it is now also labeled “For Bento Use”. Click here for some more TIPS ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT CONTAINER FOR YOUR BENTO BOX
I made three different boxes in order to test my bento box theory.
#1 Brontosaurus Bento:
One Word ~ Awesome! This was the first bento design I tried and it worked! It solved the picky eating issue! I merely used a Brontosaurus sandwich design cutter and cut the PB & J sandwich into two pieces. I did not get too creative with the decorations but I merely tried to do something cute then added loads of grapes and carrots. The end result was that my picky eater ate everything except the four pieces of cucumber I tried to put in for the look of grass ~ lol. (This sweet child also liked the fact that Momma made the dinosaurs talk!)
#2 Bento with a Heart (see 1st picture)
Well, this bento was definitely more of a miss than a hit. I ended up eating it for a snack myself because the wee one just wasn’t too hungry during our recent road trip. But, on the upside, I am now thinking I need to pack my own bento for road trips! It was healthy, delicious, and frugal. It deterred my need to stop off for a quick snack at the gas station. Bonus!
#3 Chocolate Covered Bento
Oh yes, of course, I had to try making one for my husband. I made him a snack bento which actually ended up being a before dinner chocolate appetizer by the time it was completed. I dipped strawberries in melted chocolate and then also did the same with crisp bacon. Mmm . . . yup, say it again . . . chocolate covered bacon. This is a “must try” kind of food item for those of you who may be questioning my taste buds’ logic. Super Yum!
I suppose in retrospect, any time you can pack your own snacks and lunch you will end up saving yourself money. And my wee one definitely loved even the small things I did to make the bento more personable. You don’t need to invest a lot of money but a little bit of time and creativity is required in order to dream up your next bento box theme. And for me, just seeing my little one smile at the small Brontosaurus heads peeking out of the bento was enough motivation to try again!!!
And next time, I may just add a Mento to my bento . . . seriously, couldn’t resist adding this sentence in. lol