I am continually amazed by the tremendous women I meet as an Air Force spouse. Moving frequently can be difficult, but the amazing friends we make along the way are, without a doubt, the best part. I'm excited to introduce you to another super cool mom who is juggling 3 kids, a long deployment, community support, volunteer hours AND she still manages to create the cutest bento lunches ever. I asked her how in the world she does it and to share some of her tips. Mamas, meet Sonia!
The Shopping Mama: How long do the bentos usually take? How do you budget the extra time to make them?
Sonia: Sometimes bentos take 10 minutes, some days they can take up to 45 minutes! If I have a good plan in my mind about what to make, I can usually fly right through it. That is... If I have managed to feed the kids and taken care of their needs before I start the bento. Sometimes I wake earlier than the kids and can make the bento before starting their routines. A lot of times, though, I'm finishing up last minute because I haven't budgeted my time well.
TSM: What's your favorite bento box you've created?
Sonia: You'll have to help me choose. (Some favorites pictured below.) I remember making each and every one.
TSM: Kids can kind of be, how do I put this nicely, oblivious of our efforts. Does your daughter like them as much as I do? Does she have a favorite bento?
Sonia: My three year old Quinn says, "I like ALL of them!" Sometimes, she doesn't like certain things in the bento. Sometimes the green beans are too chewy or she's not a fan of a teriyaki sauce on a piece of meat. But the sensei has her finish her food.
TSM: Are there some products and tools we can buy online to help create bentos, too?
Sonia: Living in Japan, I'm super lucky to have bento supplies at my fingertips. They are everywhere, even at the grocery store! Products that I use every time can be ordered on Amazon.
- This is the best nori punch!
- I have this rice mold and nori punch. I used it to make the panda bento pictured below.
- This is my daughter's Hello Kitty bento box!
- You have to have the picks too! They add just the right amount of cute.
- My favorite kit.
Sonia: Tiny scissors and tweezers are a must. Spaghetti noodles are my secret weapon. They can attach foods, and actually soften by the time lunch rolls around so they are entirely edible! I use mayo to help make things stick- like the face on a rice ball. Nori sticks without a problem to rice, but not to bread. The mayo helps it adhere.
Sonia: It all seems like a lot of extra or unnecessary work, but my kids LOVE them. It's a way to sneak in extra nutrition and veggies. My bentos always include broccoli, spinach or asparagus.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, Bento Master!