Back to Bento Basics

Good morning, and welcome to another day of the Eats Amazing Back to School 2014 Giveaway Bonanza! Over the course of this week I have been helping you to prepare for the new school year in style with several reviews and some fantastic giveaways (10 prizes in all!) of some of my favourite lunch-making supplies.  For today’s prize I am offering a special ‘bento starter kit’ from the Eats Amazing Shop, so be sure to read on to find out how you can enter for a chance to win this brilliant prize!

Eats Amazing UK - Back to School 2014 massive Giveaway Bonanza - 6 days - 10 prizes - fantastic bento lunch gear to be won - enter here

If you are a new visitor to my blog, you may be wondering what this ‘bento’ that I keep referring to is, so I thought I’d go back to basics with a little explanation.  Bento is a Japanese word, meaning ‘convenient’, and it refers to a meal, packed in a box, most commonly for lunch.  It’s basically the Japanese equivalent of packed lunches.  What makes bento different from the packed lunches that we are used to here in the UK though is that all the food is packed tightly into one box and arranged so as to be pleasing to the eye as well as the taste buds.  There is no need for any excess packaging such as cling film, tin foil or plastic bags, and you can be really flexible with the kinds of foods you pack, which means that packing a healthy lunch couldn’t be easier!

Japanese Mums have been packing bento lunches for their children for years, and in some cases they get incredibly creative, sculpting elaborate designs such as cartoon characters or portraits of famous people from rice!  In recent years the idea of bento has also been taken up in other parts of the world, particularly America and more recently here in the UK, as bento offers an interesting and healthy alternative to our ‘traditional’ sandwich style lunch.  The Japanese tend to fill their bento boxes with the rice and vegetables that comprise the usual Japanese diet, but when it comes to the kind of foods you can put in your own bentos, there are no rules but instead, endless possibilities!

I started making bento lunches myself nearly two years ago when Small Child started school.  I stumbled across the idea entirely by accident, and was instantly attracted to it, as I had already struggled to come up with fresh ideas when I was packing lunches just for the two days a week that he was at pre-school.  Initially I just wanted to pack something healthy for him, but I soon discovered the joy of getting creative with food too.  Bento lunches don’t have to be ‘fancy’ though, and they are a lot easier to make then they may at first appear – just pop some food in a box, it’s that simple!

Here are a few tips for getting started:

  • Make a list of foods that your child will eat and pin it to your fridge door for inspiration when you’re out of ideas.  For plenty of food ideas and a downloadable list visit my Lunch Box Food Ideas section.
  • Cut food into bite-size pieces – start with simple cubes or sticks or try fun shapes using mini bento cutters.
  • Use reusable silicone cups to separate different foods and help with portion control, whilst adding a splash of colour to the lunch.  You can use standard cupcake or muffin cases, or specialist bento cups (like these fun animal ones) that come in a range of fun shapes, colours and sizes.
  • Cut sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters or even play-dough cutters! Specialist sandwich cutters like these dinosaur, heart or butterfly cutters are great for avoiding too much bread waste, and cutter sets like the CuteZcute cutters make it easy to make a really fun bento lunch.
  • Use your leftovers! Chop leftover meat or veggies into small pieces and add to leftover rice, pasta or cous-cous to make a simple but tasty salad.
  • If you want to make a plain lunch instantly more fun add some bento food picks or cupcake picks.  They are used both for decoration and as a fun way for your child to pick up their food.

I hope that I have managed to show that making bento lunches doesn’t have to be complicated, and maybe inspired you to try it yourself?  In order to help one lucky Eats Amazing reader get started on their own bento journey, I’ve put together a lovely bento starter kit from the Eats Amazing Shop. The prize consists of one strawberry shaped Japanese bento box, one set of alphabet food picks, one set of crayon cupcake picks and a set of mini flower shaped silicone cups.  All items are brand new and unused and will be posted free of charge to the lucky winner.

Eats Amazing UK - Win  a fun bento box and starter kit including alphabet food picks crayon picks and silicone cups - click here to enter

 To enter, please use the rafflecopter below, and don’t forget to leave your comment on the blog post. Be sure to come back to the blog tomorrow to see what I have for you in my last giveaway of the week too!
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note the following giveaway terms & conditions:

The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours of the giveaway ending.  If no response is received from the winner within 28 days then a new winner will be selected.

If extra entries are earned by following Eats Amazing on Facebook or Twitter, the winner must still be following Eats Amazing when the giveaway ends in order to claim their prize.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only.

About Grace

Mum of two lovely boys, blogger, enthusiastic packer of bento lunches and UK bento shop owner. Sharing creative ideas for fun, healthy food that kids will love!
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139 Responses to Back to Bento Basics

  1. Tracy Nixon says:

    The Alphabet Letter Picks look fab!

  2. Sarah says:

    I would love to try the Luxury Silicone Fruit and Veg Cups as they would be perfect to add a bit more variety and divide up small pieces of different veggies or berries.

  3. Elizabeth (Liz) Briggs says:

    Love the Ladybird and Bee Picks :)

  4. Eve Bridgeman says:

    I would like to try the egg moulds x

  5. Trish Bodine says:

    I am just starting with Bento box lunches for my husband and I.

  6. Dawn says:

    The aeroplane cutter would be a hit with my two

  7. Wendy Finn says:

    I love the crayon food picks!

  8. Rachel Martin says:

    Wow! Just what I need:)

  9. kandy Gill says:

    I love making cute lunches for our 3yr old for PreSchool.

  10. CaroleHeidi says:

    I adore the sheep and squirrel cups so much XD

  11. Dawn Geddes says:

    I love the strawberry bento box! Gorg! xx

  12. Lauren (@laurenbigeejit) says:

    With my husband and I being slight plane geeks, I think the 3D plane cutter looks great fun!

  13. Tabetha Howell says:

    My 6 year old would like the eye picks to make some highly eye monsters in his lunch

  14. Kasia says:

    I love the Japanese Bento Box – Dark Pink Strawberry and hat picks, It’s so cute :3

  15. Sarina Scholes says:

    I think the food picks and the cuteZcute animal palz are top of a long wish list. They would make my lunches for the girl and boy more interesting and might convert the boy to sandwiches! Thanks

  16. Leandra says:

    I’d love to try the CuteZcute Cuddle Palz Cutter Kit x

  17. Hannah Elliott says:

    Can’t wait to start bento lunches in September :)

  18. Toni Vesper says:

    My daughter is starting Kindergarten next week. This is the first year she will be able to bring her own lunch. This is also the first year I will be doing Bento lunches! So very excited to get started. Thank for all the inspiration!

  19. maren says:

    these crayon piicks are too cute -would want to see my family members’ faces when discovering them in their bento boxes!

  20. winnie says:

    Egg Mould Bundle 😀

  21. Jessie says:

    I would love to try out the silicone cups in my girls’ lunches!

  22. Jessica catterall says:

    I will start making bento luches for my son in september. He already has these kind of lunches but nowhere near as fun and its all jumbled up in his lunch box!

  23. Lucy says:

    I would love to try out the egg moulds and the mini bento cutters

  24. Gina M says:

    I love the look of the princess picks

  25. Jo says:

    I’d love some food picks x

  26. La Sheonda S says:

    I am just starting this in my family and am excited by all of the ideas being shared here.

  27. The crayon picks are what sent me in this direction! Love them x

  28. Janine says:

    The egg moulds look like good fun.

  29. Ruth woodfield says:

    Fab starter kit!! X

  30. Wendy Murray says:

    Love the crayon food picks – so bright and fun!

  31. oana79 says:

    Any of your lovely picks. They made for bright and fun additions to any lunch box.

  32. Emma Hartley says:

    The eyes look like lots of fun!

  33. Catherine Culmer says:

    The aeroplane cutter looks fab

  34. kim neville says:

    The Alphabet Letter Picks look a great idea thanks

  35. Anna says:

    We would just love this! I cannot express how excited I would be – let alone my children. I love everything this stands for – I’m definitely converted xx

  36. MEGAN says:


  37. k dunn says:

    the dinosaurs sandwich cutters for my dino mad daughter! : )

  38. Ashleigh Allan says:

    Love the Alphabet Letter Picks

  39. KK says:

    the strawberry bento box

  40. Gemma Snell says:

    The crayon picks look fab

  41. The Japanese Bento Box.

  42. Christine Evans says:

    Love that strawberry lunch box, thanks for the chance to win. Your blog is so full of inspiration I really love it, thanks!

  43. Charlie Wand says:

    the egg moulds are amazing

  44. Alison Joyce says:

    Japanese Bento Box – Pink Jewel

  45. Angela Bates says:

    The Japanese bento box in blue

  46. any of the egg moulds – they seem so cool!

  47. Petit Mom says:

    The egg moulds for sure!

  48. leigh boyle says:

    egg moulds look brill

  49. Stephanie Tsang says:

    I love the alphabet picks

  50. Anne Ling says:

    Love this! This starter kit will come in really handy when my children start preschool this September! Hopping over to your shop to check out more!

  51. I love those bear egg moulds you use. They look awesome! (Rebecca Beesley on rafflecopter) x

  52. Zoe G says:

    The egg moulds

  53. Sally Ann Savo says:

    Alphabet picks, it would encourage the little ones to eat better as meal times would be more fun.

  54. Amy PJ says:

    The Star Wars Lightsaber Picks look fun!

  55. Allan Smith says:

    egg moulds

  56. catherine plant says:

    i like the cutter sets x

  57. Laura price says:

    Would love the letter picks

  58. Caroline Clarke says:

    CuteZcute Animal Friends Cutter Kit

  59. Amy Beckett says:

    Love the Butterfly Sandwich Cutter – Can’t wait to make pack lunches. I know my partner will beat me with the creativity though.

  60. Helen says:

    Great start to my bento collection!

  61. kazza ham says:

    the egg mould

  62. Lorraine Tinsley says:

    The Alphabet Letter picks look fab :)

  63. Jen says:

    I would love the Alphabet letter picks!

  64. laura jayne bates says:

    the egg mould bundle

  65. Melissa Overcash says:

    This is EXACTLY what I need! I have been in that lunch box rut, and these creative ideas are so perfect! Thanks for sharing such awesome ideas!

  66. Melissa Overcash says:

    Forgot to tell my favorite: the strawberry bento! :)

  67. Joy says:

    The alphabet picks look most fun and versatile!

  68. Elizabeth Williams says:
  69. Momof2 says:

    Hi. I would love the alphabet pics or the good pouches. Thank you.

  70. Esther says:

    Alphabet letter picks!

  71. Eileen Teo says:

    i love the mini flower cup

  72. Val Swift says:

    The egg mould

  73. Alphabet letter pics are my favourite from the shop =]

  74. Alex says:

    The product I would most like to try are the egg moulds, I’m sure they would go down well with my daughter

  75. Pingback: Back to School Giveaway Round-Up - Eats Amazing

  76. Susan Elai Carter says:

    The Crayon cupcake picks in the giveaway as they look really fun and just the right size for little hands to grasp. From the shop I like the £2.95
    6 Piece Bento Cutter Set 7 as it would make the preparation of the food easier and look better than my trying freehand.

  77. Laura says:

    All look good

  78. Clare Wood says:

    Love strawberries!

  79. Ella says:

    I LOVE the alphabet picks, so many uses for those!

  80. Kerry Booker says:

    I love the little crayon picks

  81. Suzann N. says:

    Loving this contest! The crayon picks are my fave

  82. Maria P says:

    the silicone cups – they are very cute, especially the squirrel :)

  83. Esther says:

    Eeeek! So many gorgeous things to try with my daughter. She would love them all – I think the silicone cups, strawberry box and the sauce pots are particularly fabulous. Thank you for your inspiration! Xx

  84. Irene GILMOUR says:

    got to be the egg moulds if i can onlt pick one thing

  85. Raquel Byrnes says:

    Just discovering Bento and loving all the great ideas!

  86. lou Lankester says:

    My son would love the monster cupcake rings, they really are cute!

  87. Jenny Clifton says:

    I’d love this set to get going, but like the look of the new cutezcute Pals Cutter Kit too!

  88. Jennie Hubbard says:

    I’d love to try the egg moulds

  89. Any of the food picks, just to make food look more exciting.

  90. Kezz says:

    The egg moulds look like fun, my LO would also love the pooh bear plate!

  91. Lucy Trist says:

    Would love to try a yumbox, they look fab! X

  92. Emma Baker says:

    like to try the egg moulds, would be good x

  93. I love the letter picks

  94. sarah says:

    I love the bento box fab idea

  95. Stephanie Tsang says:

    I would like to try and egg moulds.

  96. Sam Goodwin says:

    The cuddle palz cutter set, would love to try it

  97. Bridget Heather says:

    egg moulds look awesome!

  98. Lorraine Gatton says:

    Dinosaur cupcake picks…roarrrrr

  99. Louise says:

    The alphabet picks would probably be the most useful x

  100. Laura Asplin says:

    The aeroplane cutter is great

  101. Rose says:

    The alphabet letter picks look so fun!

  102. leanne weir says:

    I would like to try the egg moulds x

  103. Jennie Pearce says:

    The egg moulds look fab :)

  104. Rosalind Blight says:

    I love the crayon cupcake picks. these would make lunches so much fun

  105. Caroline H says:

    I love the Cuddle Palz cutter kit – looks great fun.

  106. Felicity Kelly says:

    I would l most like to try this 9 high street I struggle to find small cutters

  107. Diane S says:

    The egg moulds look like heaps of fun!

  108. Diana says:

    The aeroplane cutter :}

  109. melanie stirling says:

    The crayon cupcake picks.

  110. Solange says:

    I love the strawberry bento box

  111. Luxury Silicone Fruit and Veg Cups

  112. Mark Palmer says:

    The aeroplane cutter

  113. EMMA WALTERS says:

    the mini bento cutters

  114. Stephanie Whitehouse says:

    Who could resist Japanese Bento Box – Pink Jewel

  115. sarah says:

    The Egg Moulds :-)

  116. Helen Padden says:

    The cutez animal cutters, I think they are a lovely set

  117. Julie Cook says:

    Heart moulds x

  118. lynn savage says:

    I love the crayon picks

  119. Joanna Sawka says:

    the strawberry bento box

  120. Lisa Wilkinson says:

    I’d love to try the mini bento cutters

  121. The egg moulds look fabulous and having kids that eat boiled eggs like theyre going out of fashion, i could see these being used A LOT!!

  122. Mr James Holyland says:

    Crayon food Picks

  123. Wendy Tolhurst says:

    The rainbow silicone bands – would be great for holding bits together in the lunch box

  124. Vikki says:

    The Aeroplane Cutter – my son would love it!

  125. Lynsey Buchanan says:

    strawberry bento box

  126. makila wheatley says:

    Japanese Bento Box – Light Blue

  127. Hayley Spencer says:

    the Crayon Food Picks :)

  128. Emma Davies says:

    I love the egg moulds

  129. Emma Davies says:

    The egg moulds look fab

  130. Emma Ellison says:

    Princess picks

  131. Laura says:

    Yes please!!

  132. Lucy R says:

    Love the crayon picks.

  133. jenette ogborn says:

    The Alphabet Letter Picks are great

  134. George Worboys Wright says:

    I’d love the Square Sauce Containers cos they’re so useful!

  135. Alisa Moore says:

    The egg moulds

  136. Colette says:

    It’s a tough call between the cutters and egg moulds x

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