Lessons from the Five Minute Bento

There’s nothing like explaining something you’ve done almost a hundred times to add a fresh perspective to it. In making my first video, I was reminded of some basics that are worthy of sharing.

Five Minute Bento: "Star" Turkey and cheese sandwich, hummus cup decorated with carrot slices and a star cucumber slice, red and yellow peppers, carrots, cucumber and cherries.

I was pleased with how the video came out, though I know there’s room for improvement. I’m glad the experience gave me an opportunity to reflect.   Better still, it gave me material for a second blog post.

I set out to make The Five Minute Bento with a minimum of gadgets so others could easily replicate. I worked in my mother’s kitchen, with supplies closest to what I hope most others might have on hand. By stripping out the tricks, I left the focus on the food.

Bento Basic: It’s about the food.

Choosing a variety of foods, especially with different natural colors, led to a healthy lunch. While it’s fun to make the lunches cute and creative, healthy components must be at the core.

I didn’t want to generate a lot of waste with this lunch. Generally, I try to avoid food waste because it’s impractical and not a good model for others. I have several stratgegies for disposal that let me cheat a bit. I often snack on food scraps, feed them to our dog, or re-purpose them in a lunch for my toddler or me. If I’m feeling particularly energetic, I dice vegetables to use for a breakfast omelet.

These strategies wouldn’t work for the video and might not work for others. There was no way that I was eating on camera and not everyone has a pet to feed food scraps to. I decided to use the cookie cutter sparingly.

Bento Basic: Simple can be beautiful

The first star came out of the top of the sandwich so the cheese would show through. I included the leftover bread to be eaten with hummus. I also used the cutter on only one slice of cucumber to decorate the hummus cup. The other cucumber slices were in-tact.In the spirit full disclosure, I’ll reveal that polished off the cucumber remnants off camera 🙂

Bento Basic: Don’t be afraid to improvise

As I didn’t have my full arsenal of supplies available, I scanned through my mother’s drawers and found a coffee scoop. It was just the right size for a serving of hummus. A lettuce leaf would have also done the trick. Don’t be afraid to re-purpose what you have on-hand in the kitchen in creative ways in your lunches.

I tried to plan my script out well, but I still find there were times I was trying to fill in audio while my hands were working. At the end of the video, I ended up sharing an important point that I hadn’t even included in my original script.

Bento Basic: Pack it in

I’ve been asked how my lunches survive the harrying trip to school in the hands of a four-year-old. To be completely honest, I don’t expect them to arrive fully in-tact. However packing the lunch contents tightly usually does a decent job of keeping things in place.


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