At some point, making bento boxes became less like lunch prep and more like art class. It can be as precise and delicate as crafting a bonsai tree. With enough time, ingredients, and tools, you can (eventually) create a boxed lunch masterpiece.
Bento beginner? Don’t stress over tiny bits of broccoli. You’ll get there in the end. It’s definitely possible to become a bento pro, if the mountain of Instagram posts is anything to go by.
Japan has all the bento deco equipment you’d ever need in your life. Owning a bento box (and going food shopping) is just the prologue of your adventure. Cutters, slicers, moulds and shapers, and kawaii finishing touches are there to make your bento one-of-a-kind.
Sure, some decorations are more obviously made for kids bento. But if you’re an adult who likes flower-shaped cucumber bits in their lunch, we’re not about to stop you.
Get started with some of these cute and clever ideas.
Fun rice scoops and moulds
Speaking as someone who lives in Japan and eats a lot of Japanese food… it doesn’t take long to get sick of rice. A little variety goes a long way. Even if it’s just shaping that rice so it has bunny ears.
Colours and decorations give the rice some flavour. Pickles and black sesame seeds are useful things to have on hand. We know you’re not meant to mix in stuff like red miso, but it’s too tasty.
Googly eyes for fruit and veg
“But how am I meant to eat lunch when it won’t stop staring at me?”
It’s a shame these aren’t called anthropomor-picks. Stick some eyeballs in a cherry tomato, and try not to talk to it. You’ll look like you’ve gone mad with hunger if you do.
Food cutters that look like other foods
Imagine a slice of ham… in the shape of a fried shrimp. Or cheese that looks suspiciously like a tomato. Crazy! Fun cutter shapes help trim sliced food down to bento-friendly sizes. The shape is a plus, really.
It’s not really confusing, unless you had a bad morning and forgot what you made. The cutters easily press through sliced food, without being sharp enough to press through you. They’re safe to use for making bentos – or other things, like cookies – with younger kids.
Cute picks for pickles (and small things)
Mini food picks serve a few different purposes. They keep foods together, like skewers. They’re a simple, cute way to give your bento a theme. And they make fiddly, sticky foods easier to pick up and eat.
As such, picks come in relatively large packs (at least 8) and in a ton of cute designs. Just like the cutters, there’s enough of a point on the end but they’re very safe to use. Make sure there’s a drain guard in your sink, so you don’t lose them during the washing up.
They have to be cute – too cute to eat, in fact. Kids love seeing fun food picks in their lunch, but remember that they’re a choking hazard. That goes for you, too. Be careful when you pop that meatball into your mouth, okay? The point on the pick might not get you, but that smiling octopus-shaped sausage will.
‘Okazu’ cups as separators
‘Okazu’ means ‘side dish’ or ‘an accompaniment for rice’. So are these cups for holding okazu. Place cups into the bento box first, fill them with whatever you want, and pack the rice around them. That way, everything will definitely fit.
These (typically) silicone cups look like they’re meant to hold cupcakes, but they’re ideal for all sorts of things. Pickles, beans, berries, whatever. It’s an easy, decorative way to keep different foods separate within a bento. Okazu cups are nice and simple to clean. AND most of them are microwave safe, dishwasher safe, and can be put in the freezer.
Smiling seaweed hole punches
Nori seaweed can also add much-needed colour and flavour to rice. A smily face made from nori seaweed adds some personality, too. It doesn’t have to be a smile. If an angry rice ball would make you feel better about eating it, so be it.
Press out the eyes and mouth you want, and use special bento decoration tweezers to place them onto the rice. Another way to do it is to press the pieces out of a nori wrap, and use that to cover the onigiri.
Weird egg yolk shapers
There’s no bird we know that lays eggs with a star-shaped yolk. You’ll have to make your own. (The egg, not the bird.) Using a special ‘strange egg poaching kit’. It comes with 4 designs, and space to cook 4 eggs. If you’re prepping ahead of time, it’s a handy size and a reasonable amount of eggs to create at once.
So you’re probably wondering how this works. We did, for ages. It took a while, but here’s what you do:
Crack open an egg, and separate the white and the yolk. Choose the shape you want, pour just the white in, and poach in a pan for 12-15 minutes. Then add the yolk in the newly-made middle gap, and cook for another 8-ish minutes.
The finished eggs come out as tubes, like sticks of seaside rock. The pattern goes all the way down the middle as well. Cut slices as thick or thin as you want, depending on how many lunches you’re making.
Think outside of the bento box
Find all of these clever deco bento accessories in one place – on the DEJAPAN website.