Jan 22, 2009

The Brilliance of Bento-ing

One of my email groups is currently discussing Bento. This is basically the Japanese way of making your food "pretty" and therefore, more pleasing to the eye/pallet. Yeah, I get it. If your food looks gross, you're less likely to eat it.
But, after doing a bit of research, I don't think my kids are going to eat an egg any easier if it's dyed pink and shaped like a pig head. Call me crazy. (To be honest, I don't think I would, either!) But, to each their own. If pink pig-shaped eggs are easier to swallow than regular ol' white ones, that works, too. I guess.
I DO like the idea of cutting costs, though, if this is "your thing". I'm looking at the molds used, and can't help but wonder if a thick cookie cutter sandwiched between two plates, with maybe a book on top for weight, wouldn't work just the same. Probably a bigger headache to do it that way, but once again, I'm all about bein' cheap and using stuff I've already got on hand.
I'm also one for not letting food go to waste. If I cut my kids' sandwiches into cute little flower shapes, who's going to eat the rest that gets cut off? I guess I'm a mean mom - I've NEVER cut the crusts off my kids' bread. I even turn the heel piece around so the dark part is inside. My kids have never ONCE complained about eating the heel that way. Maybe they're too busy to figure out my trick? LOL
I DO think it's kinda cute to make little sushi rice shapes. I CAN see myself maybe using a flower cookie cutter and throwing some sushi rice into it for a cute little rice flower. Maybe top it with an olive or shredded cheese in the middle. I think my girls would like that. Only for special occasions, like a birthday or something, though. Honestly, I don't see myself doing it all the time. I expect my kids to eat what they're given, regardless of what it looks/tastes like.
All in all, I really DO like the idea of food presentation, but I can also see my kids getting to a point where they would refuse to eat something because it wasn't some cute little shape. I would have HUUUUGE issues with that - especially at someone else' house. I also don't think the cost for supplies/time is small enough for me to get too serious about it.
But, once again, if this interesting to you, think about ways to cut costs (by using cookie cutters, etc). Does your child REALLY need a cute little Hello Kitty Bento box or will a self-decorated Tupperware-type box do? (Actually, I think my kids would have more fun deco'ing a box than eating fun-shaped foods). Just a thought.

1 comment:

  1. I have picked up some mini cookie cutters, fancy toothpicks, and fancy shaped ice cube trays to use for various bento cutting and molding at the dollar store. But I haven't done much, and I don't plan on it being an everyday thing (kiddo eats at home, rarely needs a lunchbox; I'm the only one who does a bag lunch). For me it's just a fun little craft to do now and then, just like cut out cookies at Christmas and Valentines.

    Some of the character bentos get really elaborate. I'm not aiming on doing anything that takes more than five minutes.

    If I cut carrots or other veggies into shapes with my li'l cookie cutters, you can bet that the leftover vegetable scraps are going into the salad, stew, chili, soup, or curry that week. Nothing will get wasted.

    One of the purposes of bento boxes is frugality - presenting leftovers/cold lunch in an attractive way to make it more desirable. If you can use it for that purpose and not get carried away with the cost or time required; more power to you!