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Savvy Mom: Cute Bento Lunches!


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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