Thinking Outside the {Bento} Box

By Mar 22, 2011May 13th, 201253 Comments

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Emily from little momma & co. is back again today! This time she is turning our attention to the plight of the brown bag lunch. By taking a cue from Bento boxes, it doesn’t have to be a squished PB&J anymore!

japanese food

photo by luckysundae on flickr

While searching for new ideas for my children’s lunch box last year, I ran across a bunch of very detailed pictures showcasing lunch as an elaborate, edible art form– not only the way to fill the time (and your belly) between morning and afternoon.



photo by luckysundae on flickr

Truthfully, I’ve spent hours looking and day dreaming over such artistry! If given the opportunity, I think I would feel slightly guilty eating something that had such a cute face. But, I’ve tried to take inspiration from books and photos and implement them into my daily lunch-box-packing routine.

japanese food

Bento "spa" by sakurako kitsa on flikr

I know what your are thinking! How can someone find the time to do this? I mean, I couldn’t get all the laundry folded today, the vacuuming awaits, and there is dishes in the sink– who’s to say that I have time to roll rice into a ball face and cut ears out of cucumbers. Who has the time to make a whole vegetable scene inspired by Rogers and Hammerstein’s, The King and I? I certainly do not. But, I can I can grab a bit of inspiration here, a dollop of creativity there– and at least throw them in my back pocket for a rainy day.

By just studying photos and books about Bento, we can pick a few elements and apply them to the typical brown bag.

1. The Box:

Bento uses a box as it’s foundation. Not only is this more eco friendly than throwing away a paper bag daily, (and multiple plastic baggies) it’s sturdy– and would survive the bottom of a backpack quite well. (Unlike my son’s poor squished sandwiches!)

2. Color:

We eat with our eyes first, right? Luckily fruits and veggies come in a vast array of colors. Think outside the box too, vibrant hard boiled egg yolks, pink lunch meat, dark brown rye bread, cheeses, and for the extra brave and dedicated– Nori, or dried seaweed.

3. Contrast:

Use a variety of dark and light colors, textures, and flavors.

4. Get Creative:

Radish flowers, carrot noses, sesame seed freckles, kabobs or toothpicks, dips or sauces, anything that sparks a bit of thought!

5. Think Cute:

The cuter the better in this case. Add faces to everything. Garnish, garnish, garnish! This is one of the true tokens of Bento. Go overboard!

Don’t be afraid and think outside the {Bento} box!


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Landing page photo credit: valentinadang.blogspot.com


About Francesca

Francesca has an extensive background in content marketing, public relations, and social outreach. She oversees all Operations at Sway Group, including our robust metrics capabilities. Prior to joining the online world, Francesca oversaw viticulture and oenology at various wineries in both California and Italy, and managed regulatory affairs and facility approvals at the biotech company, Genentech. Francesca has been featured on CBS Sacramento and Food Blogger Pro’s podcast. She has also hosted an AMA webinar and spoken at Social Media World.