Like I shared in this post, I started making bentos to give my picky eater incentive to eat a decent lunch during school. I’m a fantastic starter, but a not-so-great finisher, so I’m probably the one who’s most surprised that I’ve kept it up this long.
I started out following a few blogs, but I find the most inspiration on instagram for the instant ogling gratification. I especially like the instagrammers who don’t have SLRs and post grainy, off-centered iPhone pics instead. It just feels more intimate and real-life. I can practically hear their 6-year-olds yelling that they can’t find their homework or need matching socks.
Now that I’m mildly obsessed, I’ve picked up a few pearls of wisdom along the way:
1. Pack it in. One morning, after I snapped a picture of a just-packed lunch, my kindergartener announced, “Mommy, sometimes the food bounces around.” Whoops. While aesthetics are nice, practicality is better. I go for smaller containers packed tightly, or containers with sections that get their own “seal”.
2. Work with your budget. Some of the tools and containers out there are adorable. A $5 set of picks here and a $10 set of silicone cups there, though, and it adds up. While I love the look of a lot of these products, I stick to the food itself. If you have the money to spend, though, go crazy.
3. Stealing is totally ok. As in, stealing ideas. So much of social media is about inspiration anyway, and kudos to you if you can translate that into real life vs. pinning it on your “GOTTA DO THIS” Pinterest board and walking away. Giving credit where credit is due, though, is basic good manners.
4. People will judge you. A couple well-placed sandwiches is fine. But once you whip out divided containers or take a cookie cutter to a cheese slice, you become one of “those” moms. Your legitimate, rational reasons for doing it in the first place fall on deaf ears. To keep at least a few mom friends, it’s best to post a lot of pictures of your messy home.
5. By that same token, bento bloggers are a sensitive bunch. Much like the apples upon which we craft checkerboard patterns, we have thin skin. Any hint of sarcasm about our creations leaves us reeling. But not to worry; it becomes fodder for the next day’s panda-shaped pancakes.
A few of our most recent lunches. (For the rest, follow me on Instagram.) I don’t blog exclusively about bentos so pardon the quality of these photos. I’d do a better job with them, but, well, I’m too busy trying to find matching socks.