DIY Bento Box: How to Fit a Monkey Into Your Kid’s Lunch
Inspired by the artfully arranged and compartmentalized bento boxes that are a Japanese tradition (and challenged by other moms on Instagram) moms have found a creative outlet in making their kids’ lunches.
To bring those midday smiles, they’re trimming sandwiches into the shape of birthday cakes and cutting cheese so it looks like flowers. And it’s also given rise to a market for accessories designed to trick out tots’ lunches: intricate fruit and veggie cutters, kid-safe toothpicks adorned with cartoon animals, and brightly hued partitioned lunchboxes.
But you don’t have to go as far as buying a monkey-shaped sandwich mold to have fun with this trend. Using items I already had in my kitchen, I made a monkey-inspired bento box so eye catching that my picky kid couldn’t wait to eat it.
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Make a bento-style lunchbox whose centerpiece is a monkey face made from all-edible components.
Food: Three roasted seaweed snacks (like these by Annie Chun’s); peanut-butter sandwich (for allergies, try SunButter); one edamame seed (steamed or boiled); one carrot slice (steamed or boiled, cut crosswise); strawberry slices; kiwi slices; animal crackers (pictured are Dream Animals by Ginbis)
Gear: One mason jar; one sippy cup (the diameter of the rim should be smaller than the mason jar); scissors; bento box (a good starter box is this one)
1. Line the large section of the bento box with two of the seaweed snacks.
2. Place the sandwich on a plate, and press the rim on the mason jar into it. Make sure you’re doing this off to the side and not in the center of the sandwich.
3. Remove the mason jar and pop out the circle left behind. This is the lower half of the monkey face.
4. Take the top off the sippy cup, and press that into the sandwich. Make sure it overlaps the (empty) circle left behind by the mason jar, so you only get a partial circle. This is the upper half of the monkey face.
5. Place the large circle cut from the peanut-butter sandwich on top of the seaweed.
6. Put the small circle above it on the seaweed, aligning the “cutout” along the edge of the large circle.
7. For the eyes, place both halves of the edamame seed on top the smaller circle, close to the edge of the large circle.
8. For the ears, cut the carrot slice in half. Place each half on either side of the small circle.
9. For the mouth, cut the shape of a smile from the remaining seaweed snack and then place it in the middle of the big sandwich circle.
10. Finish up your bento box by filling one of the smaller sections with alternating slices of kiwi and strawberry. In the other section, add some animal crackers.
Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon. Video by Carmen Clark, Groupon.
Though Aimee stays up to date on the latest food trends for the Guide, most of her meals are served cold and cut into tiny, toddler-sized bites.