Bento Bonanza

Local moms are discovering a hip new ally against brown-bag boredom: Japanese bento boxes. Resembling school pencil boxes divided into smaller compartments, these Asian-style lunchboxes make it easy to pack a variety of healthy foods in a taste-tempting way – all in a quick-to-pack, kid-proof, environmentally friendly package.

Bento fans have been snapping up bento boxes this fall online and at Asian markets around the Metroplex. Some moms go all-out with traditional Japanese foods and presentation. Picky little eaters are sure to fall in love with bento-style sandwiches in cookie-cutter shapes, fruits and veggies trimmed into stars and circles and even hard-boiled eggs molded into cute shapes. More utilitarian moms simply allow bento compartments to guide portion size and variety and to make packing and cleanup a breeze.

Shannon Carino, a Frisco mother of two, turned to bento to tempt her daughter to eat enough during the allotted lunch period at school. “It had to be something she could eat in one or two bites, with enough variety that she’d be enticed to eat it all at once,” she explains. Not only did her strategy succeed, but also creating attractive bento presentations has become Carino’s newest hobby. And her daughter has developed a strong concept of what constitutes a nutritious, delicious lunch.

“Faith loves to help and makes great choices on what to put in it,” Carino reports. “It’s like she’s learning how to make the right food choices just by seeing what I put in every day on a regular basis.”