The new school year is coming. I know that first year of finding your kindy routine is hard, along with trying to come up with ideas for or to make any bentos. I hope to show you some tools and give a few tips to help make your bento prep easier. So here we go…
At many 100yen shops, you will be able to find many tools and supplies used to make bentos. Some cute accessory items, food picks, seaweed punch, tweezers, etc. I say check with your local 100yen shop before shopping at a regular store since the price is usually cheaper. There is always the amazon.co.jp route as they tend to have a great selection that will be shipped straight to your door.
Tools that will help you:
Another product I find useful; especially on my lazy bento making days, are pre-cut seaweed packs. I know that the Sanrio store carries Hello Kitty and Shinkansen ones. I have also found the Mickey mouse pack at my local store.
Seaweed face punches are great when you need to add a happy face to anything.
If you want a more versatile face punch, these can be useful. Not only can you use them on seaweed but vegetables, cheese, ham, anything you can think of.
When adding faces or pre-cut seaweed, you will need a pair of tweezers to help with placement. It makes life so much easier. I have tried without and will never go back to that method again.
Scissors will be helpful if you like to free cut your seaweed or other foods. I use them when my son wants a mountain on his onigiri.
I love these onigiri makers; I have the shape set for my boys . They are very easy to use. All you have to do is wet them before adding your rice, push in the insert and press hard. Then just pop them out when your are finished. Add corresponding seaweed pieces to give kids a fun bite size onigiri.
There are many different types of these makers. Here is one for a Shinkansen. Very cool for train lovers, just might have to get one for my oldest.
Now, let’s move on to the vegetable part of the bento. There are many cookie cutter tools on the market. Not only can you use them for bento making but also for dinner. You can use them for anything, from ham and cheese on crackers to carrots and apples.
Now if you want to make your sausages cute, this is the tool for you. I say, practice with it for a while before trying to do anything during the morning rush. Use it to cut sausage before warming it up and add black sesame seeds for the eyes. I have to admit that I have this cutter but have not mastered it yet.
An easy way to add cuteness is to just plop in a few character picks into the vegetables. You can find some cute ones at the 100yen shop. I tend to wash and reuse them.
Silicon cups are a great way to keep foods apart so they won’t get mixed up.
Tips for making your bento:
*Many moms recommend to make a big batch of bento type foods ( i.e. – hamburgers, omelets, vegetable mixes, etc.) and freeze them in individual portion sizes. Or, you can make extra while cooking your dinner and freeze what is left. Then all you have to do is take what you need out the night before and put it into the fridge. They should be thawed by lunch.
*If you like, you could buy pre-cooked frozen bento items. They are found in many Japanese supermarkets, in the frozen food section.
*For rice, I tend to add mine in the morning. I recommend setting your rice cookers timer to finish cooking right before you have to wake up in the morning. That way all you have to do is make sure you have enough rice for your bento in the morning.
*I know of some people who would cut up and organize their vegetables and meats the night before and just add rice in the morning. That could be an option if you want to save some time in the morning.
*If you are planning to do a complicated chara bento, I suggest doing any of the prep work you can the night before.
These are all the tips and suggest I have heard from others and can think of.
Please let me know if you have any more suggestions that I should add. I’m always looking for something that will make my days easier.
Happy bento making!
P.S.- Keep a look out for Amelia next gallery post of a variety of bentos. If you would like to submit some photos, please contact Amelia.