With the start of the new academic year, some may breathe a sigh of relief that the kids are finally off to school again. But don’t you also want to let the little ones know that you’re thinking of them while they’re away? What better way to do so than a packed lunch to remind them of that sweet family love? Fortunately, school lunches don’t have to be drab and dreary; we’ve compiled a list of adorable bento box recipes for you to make for the kids to surprise them at lunchtime. Or better yet, prepare them together as a family activity!
To start us off, some useful tools for cute bento-making that will go a long way for any recipe would be a nori (seaweed) punch and some vegetable cutters. These are crucial to making the faces of the characters that will elevate the cuteness element of your lunch boxes. Remember, out of everything needed for these recipes, patience is key!
1. Rilakkuma omurice
For those who don’t know, Rilakkuma is a popular Japanese cartoon character, whose name translates to “bear in a relaxed mood”. There is branded merch of all sorts moulded after this beloved San-X creation and frankly, even we can’t resist the charm of this lazy teddy bear! Not surprisingly, there is a huge variety of Rilakkuma bento boxes recipes available, but we’ve picked an elaborate one, with Rilakkuma and his pal Bird taking a nap in an omelette.
2. Japanese tonkatsu chicken lunch box
The main character in this recipe is actually the fried pork loin, but we think the cute rice balls that are decorated as mini chicks steal the show. This is one of the easier character recipes, but feel free to add your own filling to the rice balls for an extra element of surprise, as well as a variety of vegetables for a healthy lunch.
Read more! Check out the best ways to plan your kid’s birthday party.
3. Minion bento box
One look at this bento box has us all swooning over the adorable minions! This video only teaches you how to make the characters from popular film Despicable Me, so if you’re looking for additional recipes for the side dishes, feel free to mix and combine with other suggestions on our list. Get your scissors ready and get down to some snipping to create the minions’ iconic overalls.
4. Animals sandwich bento
This video is the perfect example of how to add a touch of cuteness to a regular bento box recipe with some intermediate character-making skills, and it can be something as simple as sandwiches! Time to challenge your creative side and whip out those vegetable cutters, because a sandwich with a cartoon on top is a thousand times more attractive than a plain one.
Read more! Here are are our tips on having a healthy lifestyle for parents and kids.
5. Piggy Spam musubi bento
The version of a bento box takes after musubi, a savoury Hawaiian dish made by tying a slice of fried Spam to a block of flavoured rice with nori. This recipe puts a modern spin on it by using Spam to mould irresistibly-charming piglet characters snuggling under their nori blankets. Yes spam, yes nori blanket, yes piglets!
6. Penguin family bento
This particular bento recipe actually uses a specific rice mould and nori punch that you can buy on Amazon, resulting in rice penguins with delicate nori details. They also use themed side dishes, such as Goldfish biscuits, to unify the bento box under an underwater animals theme!
7. Totoro bento box
Who can say no to a Studio Ghibli-themed lunch? Totoro is a famous cat-chinchilla-like cartoon character from Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli, and this version sees it with two sidekicks. Perhaps the most advanced recipe on this list, this video teaches you how to make use of vegetable dye to get a colourful result and brighten up the bento box. There’s also the clever use of a chicken egg and a quail egg to make the smaller characters. Definitely one for intermediate bento box makers.