If you google “Bento”, chances are you’ll be overwhelmed by what pops up. Seriously, I’ll wait while you peruse the Bento images. If you do a search on YouTube, the results are even more complicated.
The things some people do with their kids’ lunches are amazing. Mermaids with hair made of ramen and tails made of shrimp. Perfect replicas of SpongeBob made of cheese. Teddy bears made of rice. It’s fascinating—so I totally get it when people say that Bento packing is overwhelming and they’ll stick with plastic bags, thank you.
I get it. But you know what? There are bentos for the rest of us. Those of us who aren’t able to recreate Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night with pasta can still make visually appealing meals that nourish our kids.
Long ago, after watching my father-in-law scarf down some treat that I’d taken my time with, I swore, NEVER AGAIN. Never again would the “making” of one individual item take more time it takes to consume said item. And more or less, I stick to this principle. I am still learning to keep things simple (and surprisingly, the simple things are usually more pleasing).
Ultimately, the bento boxes that I pack are a means to an end. Elliott has to go to school. She needs to eat. Her school does not have school lunches, so I have to pack a lunch. Thanks to bento boxes, rather than having to shop specifically for lunch items, I can just shop like normal and incorporate whatever’s in the fridge into a cute, portable box. This makes Momma happy—and somehow, the process becomes enjoyable for me.
Box. Food. Transport.
See? That’s how simple it is. That’s essentially all a bento is. Guilt is optional.
No need to get swept up in thinking you have to be an artist. No need to hate on the ones who do it well. A lot of comments I hear about Bento is that “those people have too much time on their hands”, or “I could never do that, so why try?” Sure, some folks are awesome bento-packers, but that doesn’t make you less awesome—and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t try the concept. I have a few boxes and few fun accessories to keep visual appeal; ultimately the main point of lunch-packing for every parent is nourishment for their kids.
I’m a firm believer that perfectionism impedes progress. In fact, I hear those words cross my lips frequently. Don’t let the Olaf-replicas formed out of rice hold you back.
At the end of the day, you can buy a fun box and fill it with food that nourishes your family. Bam. Mission accomplished.
(You've got this!)
(You've got this!)
For inspiration for fun yet SIMPLE bentos, check out some of these sites: