A few bento tricks

After going on a garden bento-making spree, I wanted to share a few tricks that I had used. I love all of the cute lunchbox items that are available, but you don’t necessarily need fancy gadgets to get your bento on. To recap, here are the lunches I made this week:

1. “Original” Garden

Bee and Bunny

Butterfly Quiche

Aside from my liberal use of flower cutters on every sort of food (carrot, potato, cucumber, pork buns), I used five tricks I’d like to share.

1) Ham, Turkey, or Cheese Flowers

In the Bee and Bunny bento I made a ham flower. I saw this great idea on the Parenting Magazine website. Unfortunately, the tutorials are maddeningly slow to load. If you look closely, you’ll see cheese strips in the “Original” Garden bento from my first attempt. I had better success with the ham.

1) Slice the ham into strips but do not cut through the ends 2) fold the ham in half 3) roll the ham.

2) Apple Bunnies

As I mentioned yesterday, I saw apple bunnies on the Oh! Bento blog and Keith was kind enough to give me some directions from half way around the world.

1) Slice apples 2) Cut 1/3 of the peel away from one side 3) from the cut side, carve a "V" in the peel 4) Use a knife to peel up the ears that you just cut 5) Decorate with nori face pieces if available.

It took me a couple of tries to get the trimming of the skin right. I cheated and decorated mine with nori faces so they would look more like animals. Those that have better knife skills don’t need to resort to such cheap tricks.

3) Cheese and Seaweed Bees

I did the bee mostly free-hand. The contrasting colors of the yellow cheese and seaweed get you more than half way there. I used a heart cutter for the wings. Try to be creative with what you have on hand. Who knows what you have in your kitchen to adapt! I finished the bee with the Nikko-Nikko face punch that I love it oh-so-much. A food pen or a dot of nori for the eye would work just as well.

4) Cinnamon Roll Snail

This whole garden bento bananza started from a snail cinnamon roll I saw on Pinterest.

I used a candy eye from my stash to finish it off, but a dot of icing and a food pen would also work. I didn’t use any icing because of my son’s no sugar policy at pre-school. (I swear it wasn’t so I could double-up on the leftover rolls!)

5) Pepper Butterfly

For the butterfly, I cut two wings from a slice of red pepper. Next I carved small circles out to insert a contrasting pepper color. I tossed the leftover green pepper in the greens at the base of the bento and used the red pepper circles to decorate the flower pork bun. I positioned the wings around a carrot stick to complete the butterfly.


Aside from using these tricks, I tried hard to think of the most colorful fruits and vegetables I could use. Some of these were definitely “aspirational” packing that I wouldn’t count on my son eating. But, he’s getting more adventurous every day.


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5 thoughts on “A few bento tricks

    • It’s basically a paper punch you use on seaweed. I’ve gotten some shape punches at the local Japanese dollar store, but this came from a speciality website (Merry Christmas to me, thanks Ali!): http://www.jbox.com/product/FK576. I bought sheets of nori (for sushi making or get snack versions) and use it. Pepper loves it and would eat the whole bag. For Pumpkin it’s just adornment.

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