Get your Balance with a Bento

by Misa

I love spring for the balance it brings to the world after a long cold winter.  The weather is finally getting nice.  A little chill is still in the air.  I find this time of year so refreshing.  

Somedays, I find myself just making phone calls, picking up, doing laundry, picking up, driving kids, picking up, trying to spring clean, picking up, and then I am done with my day!  Sometimes, to find balance of the mind, I just need to leave the Lego's on the ground and get out with my kids. 


I lived in Japan many years ago and loved the cherry blossom season. It was an unforgettable sight.  I also had the privilege of living in Washington, DC, and getting a  glimpse of the cherry blossoms that I had missed so dearly from my days in Japan.  So, in memory of strolls by the Jefferson Memorial or bike rides through the streets of Japan, I try to get out, see the flowers, and always make sure to pack something yummy so I can stay out longer.
This is the Potterybarn kids Bento Box,
doesn't that just make you happy and
want to eat all your lunch?
Speaking of packing food and Japan, have you ever heard of a bento box?  LOVE them!  I am thinking it has to hit the States sometime.  In Japan they have these cute little lunch boxes (they are a basically a supped up version of Tupperware), and you pack animal shaped rice balls, little carrots cut into a flower shape, fruit, meat or fish and other delicious things in them.  Each item has its own compartment--if you have a "food can’t touch" phobia, this is the invention for you. Bentos make things even better because you are packing a balanced meal, the kids love it, and you are using a reusable lunch vessel.

So, here is what you need to do to have your first bento box outing...

1. Find a Bento Box
I found these bento boxes at a store called Asian City and 
they were SO reasonably priced.

Find one online, go to your local Asian market, or go to Japan for the real deal... if you don't have the change for the trip, you can also just use your favorite Tupperware.  If you want to see some serious Bento Boxes straight from Japan you can visit Bento&co.  Just to give you a taste of the possibilities, google Bento and look around.  You can find some pretty cool boxes!  Some stores in the U.S., like Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm are even carrying a version of the bento box.

2.  Purchase accessories (if you want)

You may think I am kidding, but I am not.  They have all sorts of super snazzy accessories to give your lunch an extra cute punch and make it more fun to eat.  I don't know about you, but my kids are picky eaters, and if give them a colored toothpick to eat their fruit with, they eat more of it.  It is a strange phenomenon and an interesting study for another day.  Anyhow, if you want to dress up your bento, go for it!

3.  Put together your perfect little Bento

Don't use long grain rice or minute rice.  You need to use sushi rice (i.e. sticky rice, Japanese rice, or short grain rice).  This rice can be cooked in a pan according to the directions on the back of the package, or you can cook it in a rice cooker according the directions (go with rice cooker).  You can find a bag of sushi rice at any grocery store on the ethnic food isle.

If you don't want to use the molds you can just shape them with your hands.  Wash your hands, wet them (the water keeps the rice from sticking to you), sprinkle salt on your wet hands, put about 3/4 cup cooked white rice in your hand and shape it how you would like.  Try not to smash it too hard.  Practice makes perfect on this one and if you are interested you can make a comment and maybe I can make a video.

The bentos on the left are from a local Japanese market.  I know many Japanese restaurants sell a good bento.  I like the Japanese market ones because they are usually packed "to go."

The bento on the right is just amazing.  I have no claim or connection to it, I just wanted you to see what the potential of all this is!  Who doesn't love the Kitty?

I hope you have caught on that these bento boxes can also be a great way to...ummm...."trick" your child into eating something new.  Who wouldn't want to eat Hello Kitty's bow (even if it is crab) or a ball of rice shaped like a star?

Finally, below are a few more bentos that may be more realistic than the Japanese version of specially designed rice balls and cleverly cut veggies… here is what we would pack for a ride to the park or a day at the zoo.  What would you put in your Bento Box?

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  1. I love bentos. I have been looking for the perfect kit for awhile. My brother in law bought me a tin tiffen box that is great for little meals too.

  2. These are so cute! I would love to try them out on my super picky 2 year old. Maybe it would help him try out something new? Love it!

  3. Bentos are so fun! I would love to eat hello kitty rice!!


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