Saturday, January 10, 2009

Getting Bento


I don't usually pack lunches for my family. The Mr. eats out every day and so far the closest I have come to packed lunches is for official picnics or snacks in the park. This is all about to change. Miss Four is off to start school at the end of this month so that means packed lunches and snacks every day. While I'm at it I'll also start packing lunches for the Mr. in an attempt to encourage healthier eating and saving a ton of cash in the process. Of course, as with all my endeavors, I see this as a challenge on which to unleash my creativity and competitive spirit; and it is with this in mind that I have decided to tackle the challenge of packing lunch Bento style!

Realistically I don't expect my bento's to turn out quite as flash as those from the very talented Lucky Sundae on Flickr, but still this is a lunch to aspire to. Over the last few years my lunch menus have left much to be desired. Always an after thought I usually end up with tuna on toast, a boiled egg or whatever the girls didn't eat. Not very nutritious and certainly not very appealing. But I am hoping that if I have two people to make these little treats for, that it will be just as easy to put together a few more and I might get to indulge in some more inspiring and attractive lunches on a daily basis. The biggest thing that is holding me back with these is the time it takes to make them. There is always so much to do of a morning that adding in an extra hour to make lunch just doesn't seem like fun. If any of you make these yourself and have some suggestions, I'm all ears!

White Whale Bento

While in a rather foodie mood, I took stock of my kitchen and the state of my cupboards. It seems that they have been suffering from a bad case of "I might use that one day," and a clutter that subsequently leads to only a few items ever being used. So it was out with the old gadgets... and in with the new. With all the ridiculously good sales at the moment I have no excuse to still be cooking in a fry pan that leaves more teflon on the food than in the pan. And I did make that resolution to eat only the most fabulous of breakfasts so... I headed into Harris Scarf where they had a huge 30-80% off everything and picked up these treats to make both breakfasts and bentos all the more fun.

Cookie cutters from General Trader Store for cutting shapes into vegetables, fruit, cheese and just about anything to make it fun.


My very first proper egg poaching pan, a griddle pan that I shouldn't kill in two minutes (which is what happened to the last three Jamie Oliver pans!), and a super slicer to make things thin, curly and cool without loosing a finger.

For those of you in North America, the idea of cool gadgets and accessories for food isn't all that foreign. It seems that you have a plethora of stores devoted to just such embellishments. But here in Australia it is relatively slim pickings, and requires a good knowledge of secret specialty stores to find groovy things. So I am searching through eBay for most of my specialty bento supplies at present. If anyone in Australia knows of any stores here in Melbourne, I'd be eternally grateful for any recommendations. Browsing the racks for miniature sauce bottles, plastic grass and hot dog cutters shapped like Hello Kitty is my idea of fun!


27 comments:

Girl Japan said...

I can't wait to see how yours turns out... please post snaps... hope you are having a fab weekend!

cybill said...

There is little more fun in life than lunch packed into a bento box! Go and have a look at this website if you have a moment http://www.thefoodpornographer.com/ they have some incredible Bento stuff and I think they also have some links where you can buy the cutest Bento boxes. Also, If you find a good supplier of bento boxes in Australia can you let us all know?!

Georges ABOLIN said...

Those bento are great !!!

Aoife B said...

ooh those bento are so cute! good luck putting yours together, I'm sure they'll turn out great :) You've inspired me to have a look for bento stuff here in Ireland - we have lots of Asian food stores so it shouldn't be too hard...and there's always ebay!

Kits said...

Hi, hope i'm not stating the obvious, but i've heard the Chef's Hat in south melbourne has heaps of kitchen supplies. I also like going into two dollar shops, as some stock cool japanese kitchenware (but the ones i know are mainly in sydney!).

Alison said...

Hi, check out this blog. She puts together some really great quick bentos. http://lemon-grove-avenue.blogspot.com/

She's in Minnesota, USA, but I think she does a great job on making well rounded meals and has more bento information on her blog. I would think you could find a place to get your bento boxes shipped to you.

50sgal said...

Those are so darling! It is odd how now, in our country usa, Japanese culture is really taking hold with alot of people, but in the time I am currently living (1955) having not been that long out of war, the japanese are seen in a much differnt light. I want to do a blog about an article in one of my magazines where they try and sell people on the idea that a GI has come home with a Japanese wife and that it is 'okay'. Love your blog, your style, love your living room. Great site. I look forward to reading more.

Glove Slap said...

Wow, what a coincidence-- there's a FANASTIC, very informative bento blog written in English by a Japanese woman, who is beginning a 2009 "Bento Challenge"-- not competitive, but just an effort to pack bento regularly-- for her readers: http://justbento.com/
And there's another blogger who focuses on making bentos for children, and gives tons of tips: http://lunchinabox.net
and then, there are the beautiful people... http://aichigo.blog109.fc2.com/

Glove Slap said...

Oh, and these places sell neat bento supplies: http://www.jbox.com/BENTO/
http://event.rakuten.co.jp/borderless/index_en.html
http://www.organize.com/brand-lock-and-lock.html?gclid=CNP6rb_OhJgCFQVuswodM1nuCg
...and there's always Ebay. Try the american Ebay. The Japanese sellers often don't ship outside Japan.

Tizzalicious said...

I can't wait to see what you come up with when you start making bento's! :)

Dooder City said...

Oh my gosh, those pieces of sushi that look like animals are amazing. I have never seen anything like it.

Make Do Style said...

You are such a good mum - how nice for your daughter and how healthy! I'm feeling guilty now...

Super Kawaii Mama said...

Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone. There are so many great online resources to salivate over. I'm really trying to find some real world supply shops here for the 'touch and feel' experience, as well as to save on shipping. With the current exchange rate it can be astronomical! I think I'll head down to my local sushi store for some advice too.

WendyB said...

I LOVE adorable bento boxes. Those penguins are so cute, I want to pinch their cheeks.

Angelle & Simon said...

I love Bentos. You should check out Lunchinabox.net The lady there does bento everyday for her family and has lots of super cool and fast ideas. As for Bento supplies, here in NZ we have the same sort of problem with very few places to get supplies. I recommend checking out shops like $3 Japan if you have them there and Japanese food markets and housewares stores.

If you really can't find anything over there, I could possibly ship you some cute stuff from here at reasonable prices (Some of the stuff on ebay is SOO expensive!)

esme and the lane way said...

Such cute lunches! I love the idea of such planned meals. Inspiring!

Laz said...

Have you heard about the Hello Kitty for MAC?

thevintageyear said...

Oh my, those penguins are just the cutest food items ever! My suggestion is a blog called VeganLunchBox which is all vegan bento boxes.. it has some really cute ideas for healthy fruit & veg! Good luck with the fab breakfasts and awesome lunches endeavour!

Robo said...

Those bento boxes are totally adorable!

While the Super Slicer is a great tool, be very careful with it, even with the holder thing, because I've sliced my thumb with it. That was not fun. It does cut slicing time in at least half.

Super Kawaii Mama said...

Angelle & Simon: I've never heard of $3 Japan! We only have all those cheap nasty $2 shops that have nothing even remotely Bento, and loads of Asian grocers which I'll check out for supplies this week. Thanks so much for the offer too! :)
Laz: A reader kindly told me about it the other day. The glossy black kitty looks rather fetish to me. I'll have to get one of my North American friends to ship some over.
The vintage year: I'll check it out. It is hard enough getting a four year old to eat vegetables, so I think vegan is probably out of the question.
Robo: Thanks for the heads up. With my luck it is highly likely I would have done the same thing!

ChucklovesBob said...

Your blog is really fun/good read! :)
I love those bentos, especially the piggy ones.
Good luck finding your hellokitty shaped hot dog cutters!
Oh, and do you mind if I linked you on my blog?

Imelda Matt said...

There's a Japanese speciality store next to Aldi in Pahran Market and they should have most of what your looking for.

Aya Smith said...

すごくかわいい!!!も、おいしいでしょう!
So cute and looks deliecious XD

Mademoiselle Baudelaire said...

http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/2009/01/cute-yummy-time-kawaii-cooking-videos-shaped-bento-egg-molds-animal-pancakes/

I hope you get this - the above is a link to a video which features some very cute litttle boiled egg moulds to shape hard boiled eggs into stars and hearts. I am sure you'll like these little moulds. :)

Mlle. Baudelaire

Bucca said...

argh so super cute I want to try to make these!

Miss Lady Finger said...

I agree, dollar shops and little Asian stores are the best places to get cute kitchen things. I used to live in Melbourne, so here are my suggestions;
There used to be a cute wee Japanese food/kitchen stuff store on Toorak Rd just before the Sth Yarra library(after Chapel St heading toward Toorak),I got heaps of cute kitchen things there. Also try ChinaTown in the city and Victoria Rd (little Vietnam) in Richmond.
For lunches, I often cook extra dinner the night before. Today I'm having left over vege stir fry on rice for lunch! I always keep tinned tuna around, with little packets of crackers. NB I ALWAYS do my lunches the night before - so much easier. If it's just sandwiches, I use frozen bread and keep in freezer overnight (it then defrosts the next day). This way the bread stays super fresh.
Good luck! xx

Carol Low said...

do you still bento supplies? im from melbourne too, and will be happy to shop some bento supplies for you if you want..

do contact me by next week..as i will go shopping for it..