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Savvy Mom: Cute Bento Lunches!


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School is back in session, which means I'm back to packing lunches. My sons are six and nine years old. Both are, shall we say, selective eaters. While I could probably send SunButter and jelly sandwiches every day, I set my sights higher than that (at least at the beginning of the year).

After working on a recent article about rice, I found myself with a lot of leftovers. Searching for lunchbox rice recipes, I found an article on bento-box lunches for kids. The pictures were cute but the designs didn't look as easy as they were touted. A little more searching turned up a panda design I thought I could manage.

With moistened hands, I made balls of sticky rice. Many of the designs online were very ham-and-cheese dependent; these aren't things I normally pair with rice. Instead, I went spelunking in the vegetable drawer and found that discs of carrot make good noses while slices of celery make good smiles. Alas, I overestimated my nori-cutting skills (nori is the Japanese name for edible seaweed pieces). Turns out there are nori-cutters in various designs, but when I tried to imagine manipulating tiny—albeit perfectly cut—sticky snips of nori at 6 a.m., I decided I was OK with my lack of artistry. (My creations could have been pandas, kittens, or snowpeople). Just so there was no confusion, I included a napkin of identification in the box.

I find the bento-style lunchbox easier to pack and to clean than conventional ones. We have one from Laptop Lunches with plastic inserts, but after a friend showed me her son's new Planet Box I don't think I can resist the siren call of its clever compartments and shiny stainless much longer.

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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