Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Primary One: Bento Ideas & FAQs

I am officially into week 9 of daily bento for the kiddo. While not exactly totally new to this (I did a 10-min breakfast challenge last year), I still consider myself a bento noob. But I guess that I did good! Besides the salmon udon and blueberry pancakes which Dumpling asked for, I survived 3 weeks of almost no repeats.

I am no bento expert but I figured if I can do it, so can you! So based on the interaction on my Blog FB Page, I decided to put together a list of common questions and share some popular recipes. Hope this is useful!

:: Questions

1) What do you use to keep the items warm? 

I don't unless it is porridge or soup. One of the prerequisites for us in choosing a Primary school (and we have been very blessed) is to choose a school that is near to our home. Because of the proximity, we leave home at 7+am daily and her recess is at 9+am. So, basically I do not see much need to use a warmer.

The only exception is when I prepare porridge / soup and this is what I use:

I bought this via a BP on Singapore Motherhood Forum eons ago and it is still working well (I have 2.) You can get it from Pupsik here

However, Dumpling shared that fried rice which I prepared previously was a tad hard and dry. Bearing that in mind, I will add in a bit more stock the next time I fry it so the rice grains are softer.

2) Where do you get your bento kits / items from?

I was very blessed because my in-laws went Japan last year and came back with a boxful of bento items for us. But I went through a buying craze where I placed some orders here. I was buying tons from Daiso as well as another online shop but I have lost the contact. I have also recently chanced upon another blogshop Jmamababy here where it has a pretty extensive list of bento items.

I also saw some really cute lunch boxes and lunch bags at JED packs which I bought too as I like that it comes with the shoulder straps so it frees up her hands. Cute no? :p
While I am at it, here's another that I am eyeing because I like the compartments:
TUMTUM Trainee Lunch Box

3) What are the essentials in doing a bento?

As mentioned, I am quite a noob but here's some things/tools that I use almost daily:

These picks definitely brighten up any bentos with their cute cartoon characters. (The below is the loot from my in laws!)

Mini trays / holders (silicone and I got them from Daiso)
These are a must if you pack fruits / side snacks.

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Bento boxes
I use a mix of snack boxes (like the elephant series below) as well as the bigger boxes where there are individual containers in them and I stuff them all into the lunch box:

I mix and match them according to the food items (for e.g. the 2-tier ones I use for noodles since I cannot place noodles with other items in the same later / box) hence I have quite a collection of bento boxes (20+ and still counting!)

Amongst my bento box stash are many which I have not unwrapped / used!

For sandwiches, fun stamps / cutters really makes it fun for my kiddo. Additionally,  I realised that when I cut these out and make them into mini sandwiches, the kid eats better and faster.

I also bought some shape cutters (letters of the alphabet and cute animals) and really had loads of fun making them into "open face sandwich" with messages last year:

Bento, Breakfast for Kids

4) What fruits do I pack in?
Based on the advice given by some mummy friends, I usually pack in fruits that are uncut (with the skin still on them) - blueberries, strawberries, grapes, bananas, small apples, peaches, plums as they do not oxidize as much. If I have any left over (especially from the berries, I make them into jams.)

Here's a quick look at the various items packed in her bento boxes:

And there you have it! Hope you find these simple tips useful! :)

Edit: (3 Jan 2016):
Fellow mum blogger Jenn often serves up healthy breakfast for her son. Here, she shares some quick 20-min recipes. :)

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  1. Dear Alicia,

    my first time here to leave comments. I am amused by the varieties and efforts spent to make the bento , particularly for a working mom. So I am interested to know if it is a trend that P1 students will bring home-prepared 'bento'' to school ? to use the word 'bento' ( from japanese language) also suggesting a style, it is not just 'lunchbox' , but mix and macth in presentable way . So may I know how it comes to the ideas / a calling to you that you feel the need to prepare 'bento' to your girl ?

    Charlotte from HK

    1. Hi Charlotte,

      Thanks for stopping by again! :) Bento, if I am not wrong, in its simplest form means takeout / home prepared meals but usually would include meat and rice and is a full meal. I am a bento mum because of the short recess time the kids have (30mins) and I rather my kid enjoy her break time than to rush through everything. I also prepare food for her so that it is healthier. Hope that answers your question. :)


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