Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DIY: OREO Bento Lunch Box

Even if I have been doing the kids lunch and merienda baon for almost a decade now, I have never tried doing a bento box before. The numerous bento tools and the supposedly long preparation of doing a bento box intimidated me. So when OREO hosted a bento making session for the SoMoms recently, you can guess who the most excited participant was. ME! 

What is a Bento?
BENTO is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.

But for most Filipinos, Bento simply just refers to an artful take on doing the usual "baon."
During the OREO Bento Together Workshop for the SoMoms, the Bento Mommas facilitated the workshop and shared their expertise with us. The SoMoms were joined by the SoKids and some other mommy friends. We were taught how to do rice and sandwich bentos.
You can buy bento supplies from the Bento Mommas. But expand your collection of bento tools slowly. Do not be pressured to buy a container full of tools. Most of the items you need to make a basic and simple bento lunch are easily available in the kitchen:
1. You can use common household items such as drinking glasses, bottle covers & different sizes of straws to cut different sizes of circles.
2. You can press slightly on the end of the straw to make an oblong shape.
3.In the absence of a rolling pin, you can also use the sides of a tall drinking glass.

{OREO Rice Bento How-To }
Just to show you how easy it is, my girls did all the work in this rice bento with no help at all from me. I was there to document their work, that's all.

{OREO Sandwich Bento How-To }
The first thing to do is think of the theme of your bento.  In our case, we picked a photo of a kitty. This is also our entry to the Oreo Bento challenge. Again, do not limit your creativity on the number of bento tools you have. In this instance, we just used the rim of a drinking glass to cut our sandwich. You can also use the sides of the glass to flatten your bread.

The OREO Bento Challenge
The session ended with a Bento Challenge.  All the moms were asked to pick a theme for our bentos and use the materials provided on each table to make our bentos. Bento Challenge accepted!

Team Phenomenal Mama wins the OREO Bento Challenge! 
The criteria for choosing the winning bento was how creatively OREO cookies were incorporated into the bento box.  Credits to my girls for their creativity, fast thinking and our efficient team work!

photo of awarding by the Bento Mommas and OREO representatives. 

Of course my girls are as happy as me!  This is our first time to participate in a kitchen challenge and our first time to do bento.  Thanks to OREO for this wonderful experience. 

Here are some of the works of the other moms:
The tiger on the lower left is a creation of Michelle {My Mom-Friday} . The owl on the lower right is a creation of Mish {Momma 'N Manila}. The bumble bee was done by Didi  {canDIshhh} , and the ladybug is the work of Candy {The Corporate Housewife Mom

5 Ways To Make Bentos Fun & Healthy
1. Include Go, Grow, Glow food! Make sure to put in protein, carbohydrates (rice or bread), vegetables, and fruits in your bento box.  And to make it fun for our kids, it is also nice to add a sweet treat like Oreos
2. Incorporate brown rice and alternative whole grains. Rice and bread is the base for Japanese style bentos, and kids might be more receptive to eat brown rice/whole-wheat bread if it is appealing to look at.  ( Brown rice, red rice, black rice and quinoa are nutritionally superior to white rice. The same goes for whole-wheta bread over white bread)
3. Keep your bento tightly packed with vegetables and fruits to make the bento nutritious and colorful. The Bento Mommas said keeping the box tightly packed also assures that the bento stays in place.
4. Watch the cooking methods you’re using. Try to fill in as much space as you can with vegetables that are cooked using as little added oil as possible - steamed, blanched or boiled, stewed or dry-sautéed.
5. Use minimal processed food. Use less of the hotdogs, SPAM, chicken nuggets, etc. Instead use chicken, beef, fish, pork in their place.

I believe a homemade bento lunch is appealing because it is a healthy, attractive, and delicious meal, made with care and attention, that is compact enough to carry easily to work or school. A bento doesn’t have to be a work of art. The most important thing about making a bento is to make it with lots of love—and have lots of fun doing it!

We will surely be making the most use out of the Everyday Bento: 50 Cute & Yummy Lunches To Go book that we won. Don't worry I will share our future bento projects on the blog! 

If you haven't tried doing a bento before, it's time to set aside your fear.  Bento can be an enjoyable weekend project for you and your kids! Just follow the easy-peasy steps I shared with you in this post, and you can be "the best mom ever" in the eyes of your little ones!

If you want to view some more beautiful bento arangements to get inspirations, click here