Education Week: The Working Mom’s Guide to Bento Lunches, Part III

I’m lucky, and my daughter likes cold rice, which gives me a ton of really neat, easy things to make for her bento lunches. It’s also a great way to use up extra rice. This was made using three colored rice balls and is probably my favorite bento I’ve made.

I do have a mini rice mold that makes a heart, star, triangle, and flower which I bought for a few dollars on Amazon. Sometimes I dye the rice first with food coloring, sometimes I “tye-dye” them by just squirting food color on top, and sometimes I leave them plain.

Sometimes I use cookie cutters for slightly larger, quick shapes. I put the cookie cutter in the lunch box and spoon rice (plain or colored) into it (the stickier the rice, the better), then ease the cookie cutter off. This one was for a snack and I decorated it by squirting food color on directly.

The most fun lunch I’ve made involve making rice, plain or colored, into balls. Sticky rice works best. At first I used my hands, but that left my hands looking like this:

The trick is *plastic wrap*. Take your rice, either dyed or plain, put it in a piece of plastic wrap, then shape into a ball. This also keeps rice from sticking to your hands.

I made this little bear out of one big and two little rice balls, then decorated it using nori (dried seaweed) and food coloring.

Here’s a similar bento using sprinkles instead. I wouldn’t use sprinkles every day, but once in awhile can be fun.

Cake cups can be useful in dividing up a larger container. I have yet to buy any of the fancy silicone ones so I just use the paper cupcake papers I already have on hand.

Here’s a mouse using olives. Using what you have on hand helps keep it quick and easy.

This panda is really just a rectangle of rice, it’s all in the decorations.

You can also use plastic wrap to make rice logs, which I use in rainbows Here’s a rainbow with a cheese cloud.

If your child likes Spam, it can be fun to make “Spam sushi” and cut the Spam into shapes

I’ve had a small amount of luck using pearl couscous to make shapes as well.

Bentolunch.net is a great resource for cute and easy ideas (especially if you like to make muffins). I especially like “what’s for lunch Wednesday” where she invites people to submit their favorite lunches of the week so you can find lots of ideas in one place.

What sorts of things would you make out of rice?

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