Bento boxes turn lunch into art. Follow these simple steps to get started with this unique Japanese craft that makes food fun.
Step 1: Use sectioned food container Use a sectioned food container or purchase an authentic Japanese bento box.
TIP: Use sticks of celery, carrots, or peppers to separate the food if you don't have a box with compartments.
Step 2: Balance it Plan a balanced meal. Bento box lunches traditionally provide a set ratio of grains to proteins and vegetables. A common formula is three parts grains to one part protein to one part vegetables.
Step 3: Use color Pick colorful foods. Hard-boiled eggs with bright yellow yolks, vibrant red cherry tomatoes, and brilliant white rice are popular bento ingredients.
TIP: Cut the food items into shapes with cookie cutters and use colorful skewers.
Step 4: Use contrast Add interest with contrasting colors, flavors, and textures. Include a mix of bright and dark fruits and vegetables, sweet and salty items, and chewy and crunchy foods.
Step 5: Pack it in Arrange your food selections artfully. Place the proteins, grains, and fruits and vegetables in the separate compartments. Pack your box tightly so the contents won't shift.
Step 6: Get creative Turn your lunch into edible art. Make flowers from radishes and cut stars out of carrot slices. Garnish with little pepper rings and make mini-kabobs on toothpicks.
Step 7: Get cute Add little faces and edible animals to your box. Give cherry tomatoes sesame seed eyes. Turn a hard-boiled egg into a bunny with cabbage-triangle ears. Making lunch cute is a big part of bento-box making in Japan.
FACT: A traditional bento box lunch contains about as many calories as the box's volume in milliliters.