A Food Blog For Kids To Love: Bento Lunch

Shannon is a mom who knows what kids want! Her food blog, Bento Lunch is a great inspiration for any parent looking to mix things up in their kids daily lunches. Read on and learn how she came up with this fun idea.

bento lunch

You talk about this on your about me page, but you can share what inspired you to create a food blog about Bento Lunches?

We started doing bento lunches the summer before Faith started kindergarten. She’s never been a picky eater, thankfully, but she is definitely a slow eater. I was worried about her taking her time for lunch and then not finishing in the allotted time, so I started trying bentos for her while she was at day camp to see how they worked. Laying the food out small and cute seemed to help her be able to eat it when she needed to. It seemed that if I made a sandwich and cut it into a bunch of small one-bite flowers, she could eat it easily, but a big sandwich overwhelmed her. Cut up melon was much easier than an apple, and anything cute was, and still is, a big selling point.

What exactly is a bento lunch? Where does that term come from?

Bento is a Japanese term for a single serving portable lunch. Traditional bentos have a very specific ratio of foods and colors to them, usually rice, protein, veggies, and so on. They may involve fancy foods or containers, or just simple boxes and functional foods. With Americanized bento, I tend to lean on the cute ideas and fun containers as a start, but fill them with more typical foods for the kids.

bento lunch

Do you ever run out of lunch ideas? What keeps you inspired?

All the time! There are a lot of lunches that don’t make the blog because they just aren’t all that interesting. When I’m running out of ideas, I try to ask the kids to help out with ideas of what they might like to eat. Sometimes they’ll suggest something I haven’t made in awhile and it will get me back on track. The Cut-the-Rope bento a few weeks back was because of the kids’ obsession with that game. Of course, my son’s latest favorite is Plants versus Zombies, but I don’t think zombies are appetizing! Another favorite is looking through other blogs. On Wednesday, for the past year, I host a “What’s for Lunch Wednesday” bento link up on my blog. There are some amazing blogs that link up, from more traditional style Japanese lunches to very Americanized ones, it’s a great place for inspiration too.

I love that you have been so consistent about sticking to your niche, do you ever wish you could share personal family stories?

Sometimes! I’ve expanded a bit over the years, adding in a Kids Cook Monday sometimes and trying to share a few more of the recipes I use, even if they are really dinner leftovers. But I try to keep it as close to the theme as possible. Most readers coming to visit are looking for pretty specific things (often specific bento designs), so I want them to feel that they can find what they are looking for.

I do keep a second blog (http://nouveausoccermom.com) for family stories, crafting, non bento recipes, pretty much anything that doesn’t fit into the bento blog. I actually started blogging in 2001 on LiveJournal, so my personal blog starts there, then migrated over to Blogger in 2006.
I’m also lucky enough to write for a great blog (MomTrends) that gives me a chance to do product reviews outside my niche, books reviews, recipe posts, and so on.

I’d love to try these bento lunches with my kids and could probably do this with a regular plate, but where do you get your cute containers?

We live in Dallas, so there is one great little Japanese store here where I’ve gotten most of my containers. There’s a huge store in Houston that I am going to make a road trip to one of these days too, and California houses several of the 100Yen style stores. Other than that, online shopping seems to be key. I’ve gotten great containers on Ebay, Etsy, and Amazon. There are also a lot of American style containers which can be a great start for just a recyclable lunch (Easy Lunchboxes, Laptop Lunches, Lunchbots). I also use sandwich box containers from the grocery store for some bentos. They hold more than you would think they do, especially when you’re arranging the food to fit in it tightly.

If you put together a favorite bento lunch for your kids…what would it consist of?

My favorite bento is probably the pirate lunch I created for Ben (in my blog header) and I got the chance to recreate it for Disney in honor of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie! It’s a stuffed muffin (think corn muffin stuffed with goodies like chicken and veggies or ham and cheese), topped with a pirate made of cheese and cucumber! The character ones, in general, are a lot of fun and stretch my creativity. We’ve done Cut the Rope, Phineas and Ferb, Veggie Tales, among others. I have a list in my head of ones I want to try, some day!

Other popular posts from Bento Lunch:

A Pirate Bento: My favorite pirate bento, and the one that caught the attention of Disney!
Faith’s Rainbow Butterfly Bento: Rainbow fruits & butterflies, and discovering a way to make my own fruit roll ups.
Veggietales Bento: Veggie Tales were a lot of fun to make, although I spent most of the day singing

About Kat

Member of the SITS Leadership Team. Hilariously funny. And tall. YouTube's next big superstar. Where you can find Mama Kat: Mama's Losin' It | Twitter | Facebook
Tater Twins: Motherhood with Many
A Food Blog With Flare: (a)Musing Foodie



  1. says

    Oh dear, I just realized this is Shannon, not Emily (facepalm). Obviously there’s more than one bento blogger out there. I like the different perspectives though – very cool!

  2. says

    How interesting – I’ve never heard of this before. I actually have been to Emily’s blog before but wasn’t sure what “bento” actually was. My daughter is just about to move to table food and this kind of thing would be perfect for her.

  3. says

    Me ha encantado el blog, tanto que ya he hecho mi primer Bento lunch! Gracias! Thank you for show a wonderful blogs! Have a nice day!

  4. says

    Can she come to my house and make our food look cute? I have not had much of an appetite (on some new meds) and this might just do the trick…:)

  5. says

    Those are the cutest lunches ever! I have been wanting to try bento lunches for a long time. Perhaps I’ll get the boxes this summer and go for it next year… with her help!

  6. says

    This is such a great idea! Lunch can be really overwhelming for kids in school and this is a refreshing take on how to ease them into it or just make changes to keep them eating healthy!

  7. says

    Thank you all so much!!!

    I really love creating them, so it definitely doesn’t feel like too much of a chore.

    I saw a couple people asked about creation time–it really depends on what I’m doing. Some of the fancier ones (like the Veggie Tales or Phineas and Ferb) might take an extra 10-15 minutes on top of just making the food. Others, like the smiley face one above probably take less than a minute or two extra to design a quick face, it all depends what I’m feeling up for on any given day. I also do a lot of pre-prep–I have fruit and veggies sliced & washed in containers in the fridge, the stuffed muffins like the pirate bento are made in advance and frozen, anything to make it quick and easy for me!

  8. says

    Oh my goodness, those boxes are so cute – would it be totally inappropriate to take one of those to work?! 😉

    • says

      Totally appropriate! The “Shaun” tag is my husband’s lunches. They are less cute, but occasionally, I just have to do something amusing, like a UT Longhorn!