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Bento Lunch Trend: Should Sandwiches Smile Back?

lunch boxes, lunch ideas

Bunny drowning in sea of cute! But is it old-school lunches that need rescuing?

I suppose I should have been ready for it, the sudden onslaught of bento-style kids lunches featuring sandwiches as cute as Hello Kitty. After all, we’re living in an era of fabulous home cooks, networks of niche blogs and obsessions with how we feed our children. The turkey sandwich/carrot sticks lunch was long overdue for a makeover!

Like mainstream cloth diapering and Adele, sculpted apple slices and ham-draped rice that looks like a penguin feels like it came out of nowhere.

While I love the idea of kids enjoying — and actually eating! — their lunches at school, I’m old school like Jennifer Larson. PB & J and a piece of fruit, day after day, is pretty much what goes into my kids’ lunch bags.

In an essay over at Babble‘s food section, she explains the drive behind stuffing lunch boxes with pinwheel sandwiches and floral bouquets of veggie sticks:

These same people assure me that children get bored with sandwiches. I’m told it’s awful to open up that Pottery Barn Kids lunchbox and find a plain old boring turkey sandwich and a banana. The horror! Where’s the fun in that? Where is the excitement? No, no, it’s better that I tap into my inner artist and make something that will be the envy of all my son’s classmates, who will be left in a terrible funk with their PB&Js and pretzels.

But I’m telling you this: plain old boring turkey sandwiches were fine when I was a kid in 1981, and they’re fine for my son nearly 30 years later.

Good thing the tried-and-true is good enough, because like Larson, I just don’t have the time, energy or will to sculpt, snip and shape edibles into artwork. Frankly, slapping something between slices of bread and stuffing them into a Ziploc gets taxing after the first couple of week of school.

That said? You bento lunch makers impress me way more than you freak me out. Just look at Bento Monsters! The creativity! The precision! The drawer full of tools that you’re actually able to find. How in the world …? You kind of make me want to up my game — like removing crusts. Baby steps.

What about you? Fancy lunches or old-school? Where do you get your ideas?

Photo: Bentomonsters

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