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There’s no better way to tackle those back-to-school blues than to literally turn your kid’s lunch into an edible rainbow! The secret to this fun bento lunch is a rice mold, which allows you to easily transform plain white rice into colorful little crayons (thanks to 100 percent natural dyes).
Complete this bento lunch with a variety of fruit and veggie sides for an extra boost of nutrition. Arrange them in the lunchbox so they resemble a pretty striped rainbow pattern. Plus, you get bonus points if you cut them into cute shapes, like stars or hearts!
Easy to make, fun to eat, and packed with nutrition, this vibrant crayon bento box is a guaranteed lunchtime hit with kids (or adults!) of all ages. Oh, and be sure to pack extra utensils … there will probably be a few friends who want to try their favorite color of the rainbow, too!
Crayon Box School Bento Lunch
Makes: 1 school bento lunch
- 2 1/2 cups Japanese short-grained rice, cooked and divided into five 1/2 cup portions
- Natural dye powder
- Red: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon beet powder
- Yellow: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- Green: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon spirulina powder or matcha powder
- Blue: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon butterfly pea flower powder
- Purple: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon purple sweet potato powder
- 1 nori seaweed sheet
- 1 ham or salami slice (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Salt, to taste
- 1 white cheese slice
- Rice mold, stick onigiri (like this from Rakuten Global Market)
- Smiley face nori punch (like this from Amazon)
- Edible food marker (like this from Amazon)
- Small alphabet food cutters (like these from Amazon)
- To dye your rice, mix your choice of powdered dye with 1 – 2 teaspoons warm water until dissolved. Add this mixed dye to a 1/2 cup portion of warm rice, and mix until rice becomes evenly colored. Repeat with remaining rice portions until you have five different colored portions of rice.
- With a damp paper towel, wipe the inside of your rice mold until it’s completely damp. Fill the mold with 1/3 – 1/2 cup of colored rice. Then, insert the removable top piece and push until it’s fully inserted into the mold.
- Over a sheet of plastic wrap, remove the top piece and flip the rice mold over and then wrap fully in plastic wrap. Don’t unwrap until you’re ready to decorate them in step 5.
- To create the crayon tip, use your index finger and thumb to pinch and pull at one end of the rice stick, until a point begins to form. Continue this pinch-and-pull maneuver all around the pointed end, until the point becomes defined. Smooth out the sides and tip of the point by rubbing your finger(s) against it. Repeat steps 2-4 until you have five colored rice crayons.
- For the details, cut five separate long, thin rectangles (about four centimeters long) with scissors out of the nori. Attach each of these pieces beneath the pointy end of each rice crayon, wrapping all the way around until both ends meet at the back.
- Place the crayons side by side in your bento box. Tip: If the crayons are too long for your bento, cut off a small piece of rice from the bottom of each crayon.
- With the smiley face nori punch, punch out the full design using the leftover nori. Keep the eyes and mouth, while discarding any additional pieces. Repeat until you have five facial feature sets.
- Optional: Using a straw, cut out 10 small circles from ham or salami. These will become the crayons’ rosy cheeks, with two per crayon.
- With tweezers or chopsticks, carefully place the facial features and rosy cheeks on each crayon. Tip: honey or mayo can help the cheeks stick better.
- In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside.
- Crack the egg and whisk until smooth in a separate bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Heat a small non-stick pan over medium-low heat, coating the pan in either non-stick spray or a little oil. Add the egg mixture and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Cover pan with a lid and allow the egg crepe to fully cook. Remove carefully with a spatula and allow to cool.
- Once cooled, place the egg crepe on a cutting board. Using a small knife, cut out a rectangle that’s the length of your bento box. Place the egg rectangle over the bottom half of your rice crayons, so that it resembles a box they are sticking out of.
- Using the alphabet cutters, cut out C, R, A, Y, O, N, and S shapes from the white cheese. Color each letter in using the edible food marker, then place them on top of the egg crepe box, spelling out “CRAYON.”