You’ve heard of bento boxes, right? Artistic lunch creations made by mothers who love their children more than the rest of us? They are artfully-crafted edible masterpieces usually consisting of an animal-shaped sandwich centerpiece, surrounded by various cut-up fruits and vegetables arranged to look like, for example, the animal-sandwich’s hair, ears, or perhaps its teeny-tiny animal friends. According to my Facebook feed, these things are all the rage.

By the time the artist was done with her creation, the food had gone bad.


Okay. Lucas might eat this one. Or just play with it until it was inedible.

There’s a LOT of detail/time involved, if you haven’t already inferred that.

I can understand the ‘love’ reasoning behind these things. After all, what half-way decent parent hasn’t ever done anything over-the-top to show their love for their children? I myself have done home-birthday parties on multiple occasions… and I think we all know what a nightmare those are. I even did the scary kind where you invite the whole class. I should get a freaking medal of honor for surviving that mayhem.

And I do make my kid’s lunch every morning. He’s got a touch of ADHD, but if he eats non-organic food, he gets full-blown toss-yourself-out-the-window ADHD. I can only handle ‘a touch’ – so we eat organic – which means I have to make his lunch, because obviously the crap they serve in the cafeteria is not organic.

It takes me about fifteen minutes every morning to put his lunch together. I usually make either a peanut butter & jelly or a turkey sandwich, with a cup of some kind of fruit, another cup of yogurt, and another tiny cup of granola to mix in with the yogurt so he can make a little parfait at the lunch table. He likes that shit. I like doing shit that he likes. So it’s not as if I’m not putting any effort into motherhood, okay?

But really, if I gave my kid half a sandwich in the shape of a pig, he’d be like “Yeah that’s great mom, but where the fuck is the rest of my sammich?”

I mean, if he cussed, that’s what he would say.

He eats every single bite of the sandwich I send to school with him. And quite frankly, if he didn’t, I wouldn’t make him sandwiches anymore. I sure as hell wouldn’t throw away a bunch of food just because “crust is yucky,” or worse, for the sake of “art,” or even love.

But isn’t that what these bento boxes are doing? Because when you use the cookie-cutter on the sandwich, you cut off the crust and corners and all you have left is half a damn sandwich. And it’s the same with some of the other stuff in there. The vegetables are cut into these adorable little shapes, which only makes me wonder where the rest of the vegetable went.  

I really want to know, with these bento boxes, what the heck do these artistic food-geniuses do with all that leftover food? I mean, hello, you took the time to make the sandwich… and now you’re going to throw half of it away?

There are starving children all over the world and we’re going to the throw away perfectly good sandwich crusts, bread pieces, turkey? Not to mention the leftover vegetable shavings after we turned a carrot into some whiskers for our sandwich-cat? How rich are we? It makes my brain hurt.


You could theoretically recycle the crust (which is now soiled with bits of PB&J, mustard, or mayo residue). In my research, I didn’t find many examples of what to do with the leftover crusts… but I did find a few. One website I found suggested coating the discarded crusts in melted butter, sprinkling some sugar on them, and then toasting them in the oven for a few minutes.

Why not just sign the kid up for a lifetime supply of Twinkies and call it a day?

Add to that the fact that this website is telling me that although I just spent forty-five minutes making my kid’s lunch, now I have to also do something creative with the crusts. It’s like I died and went to Stepford Hell.

And what about the vegetable scraps? Are you supposed to just gnaw on them throughout the day? Feed ‘em to the pigs out back? (Because maybe if you have time for bento boxes, you also have time to raise pigs in your back yard?)

Which brings me to my next point, and I know I’m not the first person to ask this: Who has this kind of time? If a person has enough extra time to turn their kid’s lunch-time into an edible art-extravaganza, why not find something more productive to do, like volunteer for the local food bank? (You know, as penance for all the wasted food?) Or try an artistic hobby – a normal one – like painting, furniture-refinishing, knitting, or home-decorating. The possibilities are endless, and any one of these hobbies could be geared toward demonstrating love for a child without rubbing sacrificial martyrdom in lesser parents’ faces. And wasting a shit-ton of food.

Sorry to be all Judgy McJudgerpanties, but these bento boxes all say the same thing to me: “I love my child so much that I’m willing to sacrifice my pre-dawn sleep-time to prove to my child, and every person who bears witness to his lunch, that he is worthy of exorbitant food-prep time and wasted food; that I am willing to bend over backwards to create a masterpiece that will only last for a few moments, because after all, he is going to eat it, and then, like everything else he eats, it will end up in the toilet, you know… as poop.”

Really, again, I’m sorry if you make bento boxes; please don’t stop reading my blog just because we disagree on this one trifling subject. You have a right to waste your time however you see fit. (I mean, hello, I BLOG, for Pete’s sake.) Besides, I have to admit, bento boxes are… kind of cute.



  1. When my first born was around 4 I cut his sandwich in the shape of a star and with a cookie cutter and sent it off to preschool with him. When he got home I was so excited to see what he thought of the sandwich. He was like. ..yeah I saw it – why’d you do that anyway, Mom? It hasn’t happened again lol.

    • Likewise, sista. God I love comments like this. Makes all this workin’ for free shit totally worth it!

  2. I hadn’t even heard of this yet, but yeah, probably best to teach our kids to eat things that look like food, not things like twinkies and cheetos and peeps – which have ceased to be food, and therefore, no longer resemble it. I like to throw a little I<3U note in my little one’s lunchbox every once in awhile (gotta cred my mom for that idea – she did it when I was a kid and I thought it was special). I prefer that over f-ing with his food, for sure.

    • Well, I’ll give bento-boxers a little credit – at least they’re not feeding their kids Cheetos (aka chemical shit-storm!)


  3. Maybe they cut the bread first, before putting in the filling to fit. Then they could just keep the left over bread in a bowl for breadcrumbs. (Like in meatloaf, or stuffing.) As for the veggie scraps, they are probably thrown out.

    • Actually, I suppose you could use the bread AND the veggies for meat loaf. But I still can’t wrap my mind around edible art for kids. 😉

    • Perhaps the veggie scraps can go in the freezer for stock.
      The crusts can also go in the freezer for bread crumbs or croutons later

  4. So….is it just me who buys dinner tickets and bungs one in their kid’s schoolbags every night? Or – and they REALLY have to plead and bargain for this – I’ll make them a packed lunch….sandwich (brown bread WITH crusts!) yoghurt, fruit, juice, maybe a wee fun size sweetie if the ‘goodie box’ has stuff in it! All thrown together in a neat 3 mins or less! Obviously I hate my kids! 😉
    (These don’t seem to have made it to Scotland yet thankfully, but no doubt they will – and I’ll ignore them when they do!!) 😀

    • Hehe… I love that someone in Scotland is reading AND COMMENTING on my blog. I might come visit you.


  5. This post speaks to me on so many levels. I wrote about “Synchronized Swimmer Moms” a while ago … you know, the same ones you’re talking about who like to put on a show that everything is easy and amazing and perfect (and like they’ve got all damn day to craft fricking animals out of food) … but I’m sure that behind the scenes and under water it’s a crazy, harried life that sucks just like mine.

    And, I’m the kind of person–like you–who sees shit like this and wonders “where’s the rest of the bread / carrot / bologna??”

    Loved this post! Loved it!!

  6. I have done the cookie cutter sandwiches. The crusts go in my belly. It’s the mom diet.

    • Haha – that’s the same thing my bento-loving friend said. You do watcha wanna, mamma. I have an organic garden for God’s sake; who the hell am I to judge someone for loving bento???

  7. Honestly, I wish I had this much time to waste on such an inane task. I hope that one day, I too can be a master at the art of time suckage they way these bento box mothers are.

  8. I’ve never done the Bento Box thing…I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t look too appealing, even if I wanted to give it a try (which I don’t). It is sweet though, but like you said, too wasteful. I’m all about taking an idea and breaking it down into it’s simplest form, for maximum payoff. Like on Valentines Day I found a cute idea on Pinterest, that was way too detailed and time consuming, and I stole the general concept, but dumbed it down to my skill and patience level. That’s how we roll!

  9. Oh mercy! I turned my head just in time to spray my fruitwater on my notepad instead of my laptop. Will you be my new BFF? Loved it. LOVED it!

  10. Great post! I also have a son with ADHD, who can eat anything, but chooses to only eat about 5 things over and over again. He makes me cut off the crust of his sandwiches or he won’t eat it. I don’t want the kid to weigh 40 pounds for the rest of his life.

    I usually cut up the crusts before I make the sandwich. If I had time (which I don’t and openly admit I’m lazy)you could make bread crumbs or croutons. My dog just sits there each morning waiting for me to toss the crust her way. Otherwise, the sammich cookie cutter is the most creative I’ll ever get. (You’ve got a new blog follower! Keep up the great work!)

  11. There are no other random rants that I love reading more than yours. Who in the hell has time for this? I cringe making my husbands lunch, and it’s really not that difficult or time consuming…but who loves it enough to wake up an hour early just to do it? Who loves it enough to wake up fifteen minutes early just to do it? I make it the night before…oh the tuna made your bread soggy? Sorry…night night. Try not to wake me while you’re getting ready for work in the morning.

    • I might have to try freezing the PB&Js the night before as one commenter said… though honestly I’m so tired by night-time I can’t even imagine doing ONE. MORE. THING.

      Thankfully, Hubs comes home for lunch. Of course this does mean I’m preparing a FULL MEAL for lunch, when if it’s just me and Mari we eat some fruit, cheese, and crackers, and call it a day. lol

  12. Kristen, Does this date me : I never knew what a “Bento Box” was until this very moment and all I can say is I have not a crafty bone in my body so I am so glad my kids never expected this from me because they have never seen this kind of artistry in any of their friend’s lunches from way back when. I do confess to having used a heart-shaped cookie cutter once of twice and felt there was too much waste. Solved the problem by eating all that was left, of course. Happy to have met you, too, via Scary Mommy.

    • They are from Japan, but it’s starting to be a fad here for American moms to do this for their kid’s school lunches.

      Thanks so much for stopping my and taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it!

  13. Maybe since they have so much time they are baking bread in animal shapes . I am a grandmother who loves her grands and I wouldn’t make a bento box lunch for any of them.

  14. I love your writing (I’m a new visitor). The only thing I can think of is these moms got so used to waking up every couple of hours when their child was an infant, that they can no longer sleep and they create these masterpieces instead. (I am a ftm to a 7 month old who isn’t sleeping. Maybe I’ll be as creative one day).

  15. Anonymous

    You realize this is a cultural thing from Japan, right?

    Also, those ‘sandwiches’ are rice.

    And I call bullshit on ADHD getting worse if you don’t eat “organic”. Organic is a marketing ploy.

    • Anonymous

      Agree with Anonymous.

      Blogger needs to educate herself before she gets all pissy about something that she doesn’t even do.

    • Wow Kristen Mae! Look at you all up in the big time with the trolly comments from Mr/Ms (or is it Miss…) Anonymous! I’ve heard of that person. they are all over the interwebs spreading the wealth of their two cents (not to be confused with that group though. That Anonymous isn’t interested in lunchboxes). You are basically REALLY famous now. 😉

    • PS – My family owns an organic farm which I, myself, have harvested berries, carrots, peas, etc, from for hours on end. It ain’t bullshit, and it isn’t a marketing ploy. I’d love for this troll to meet my father. They could have a lively discussion on just how “bullshit” organic eating is.

    • Anonymous

      Pointing out that you’re fundamentally wrong about what you’re posting isn’t being a troll. Like I said, it’s RICE. There are no crusts.

      And OF COURSE and “organics farmer” is going to say it isn’t bullshit, how else are they going to charge 3 times the price for the same fruit or vegetable?

      He can have a lively discussion with a real nutritionist and botanist about the subject.

    • Thanks for that “cultural” lesson on the Bento boxes. As far as eating organic- have YOU tried it? Sorry- but thanks to GMO’s and all the other shit that is in the food we eat- I totally get how organic can help with ADHD behaviors.

    • And, having taken courses on health and nutrition, as well as modifying my Autistic ADHD son’s diet several times-I would like to point out how YOU are “fundamentally wrong” Yes organic is more expensive- for a reason. According to the FAO:
      The organic food supply is limited as compared to demand.

      Production costs for organic foods are typically higher because of greater labor input and because farmers don’t produce enough of a single product to lower the overall cost.

      Post-harvest handling of relatively small quantities of organic foods results in higher costs because organic and conventional produce must be separated for processing and transportation.

      Marketing and the distribution chain for organic products are relatively inefficient, and costs are higher because of relatively small volumes.

      Not to mention the higher costs of animal welfare, no steroids, or unnecessary medications.

      And while I am sure there are some less than honest “organic” farmers out there- I still trust the food labeled organic a hell of a lot more than the GMO laden non food that is out there. Here’s the deal- coming from someone who HAS studied nutrition and whose child HAS been to a few nutritionists- anything you can’t pronounce shouldn’t be a part of the food you eat. Oh, and BTW- it has actually been studied and shown that certain additives and preservatives do indeed exacerbate ADHD behavior.

    • Actually, if you look at the pictures, some of them are in fact…wait for it…wait for it…made out of bread! LMAO…rice, bread, who freaking cares?! Oh, Anonymous does! Anonymous also must have a sad depressing life if, 1-all they have to do is troll blogs and leave nasty comments, but have NO BALLS to show who they really are, and 2-must be in some type of denial if they think GMO laden crap is just as good as organic…

  16. Congratulations on the trolls, I guess that does mean you’ve “made it”! LOL Funny how only “anonymous” agrees with “anonymous”, huh? I just started reading your blog, but totally agree with “what about the rest of the food that you trimmed off?” As I understand it, some people use sticky rice, some make cute little sandwiches, there are all sorts of different things folks do for these. I have a friend that does it because her child is so difficult to get to eat, that she will do whatever it takes. Plus, she’s way more artistic than me.. 🙂 Anyway, thanks for writing, and thanks for going organic, if it’s what works for YOUR family. That’s all that really matters, after all.

    • I also have a good friend who does bento. Actually, it was her photo on my FB feed that inspired this post. And STRANGELY ENOUGH, she didn’t take offense to this; she thought it was funny. Because she’s awesome and has a sense of humor. 😉

  17. Anonymous

    Or you could just fucking ignore all the FB posts and webpages about these over-the-top things. But I guess that would deprive you of a new topic for your ridiculous mommy blog.

    • You mean like you ignored my ridiculous mommy-blog? <3

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! xoxo

    • I loved this post!! And I must say, that is pretty lame to hide behind “Anonymous”, perhaps you should take your own advice an ignore this blog if you’re offended by it…

    • I wonder if my troll came over to your site?

      Seriously…it terrifies me that this person could be smiling Betty Draper at the grocery store…

    • Anonymous

      If that’s what it takes to terrify you, Rachel, you’re even more pathetic than I originally thought.

    • Kristen..
      Ain’t it GRAND that busy and important people, who are clearly more educated than you on what works for your children, can take the time out of their very important and busy schedules to not only READ your pathetic mommy blog, but to continue to comment over and over?

      Those who CAN, DO. Those who CAN’T.. Troll.
      love ya girlie! Well done!!

  18. Funny how trolls stay anonymous, isn’t it? Some things never change.

    Bento my butt. I am ashamed of some of the lunches I’ve thrown together for my brood in the past. Cold spaghetti. An omelet once. Yes, I put an omelet in a baggie. I always tell my kids, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

    • Anonymous

      No, not awesome. If she’s ashamed of the lunches she’s prepared in the past, why brag about it here? And it’s amazing how even young kids can prepare their own lunches. If they’re old enough to eat an omelet in a baggie, they’re old enough to make their own damn PBJ (oops, except they probably have a peanut allergy and/or their school has banned peanut products).

  19. I didn’t even know the name of this ridiculous practice until now. I’m with you. I barely have time to make lunches at all, let alone make animal creations out of whatever the fuck this is — rice? bread? Who cares? It’s still a giant waste of time. I’m all for people having a hobby, and maybe this one makes some people happy, which is great, but it just screams to me that I’m out there busting my ass every day working and planning for work and trying to raise my kids, and this other mom has time to make fucking animal whiskers out of cucumbers? I also blog, so maybe that’s just as ridiculous to Bento people. Then again, I can pound out a post in 30 min and call it a week. I can’t imagine how much time this takes every day. I’m probably just bitter because I wish I had the kind of life where spending hours making Bento Boxes ain’t a thang.

    • The funny thing is, I did actually end the post by pointing out my hypocrisy. I know the trolls are technically literate, because they ARE writing after all… but I do have to wonder about their reading comprehension skills. 😉

      Thanks for commenting – I’ll have to go check out your blog. =)

    • Anonymous

      It’s true. You are bitter. Bitter because you spend so much time feeling inadequate by comparing yourself to other parents. No one’s forcing you to be Martha Fucking Stewart.

  20. HAHAHA!! I LOVE this! I have the ADHD/Autism thing going on- and while we don’t do strictly organic- I try and be careful about what goes into his lunch daily. I usually break it down into a protein, a starch, fruit/veggie, and s treat (fruit snack, jello, etc) These Bento boxes are cool- if you have no other time to do anything else, AND want to waste a ton of food! My oldest daughter makes her own lunch, and has used the bento box to take sushi for lunch- that she made herself- (she’s 15) But I hear ya mama! GREAT post- and ya know what? SCREW THE HATER ASSHOLES!!!

    • Yeah… their site is really pretty lame. It consists entirely of name-calling and self-congratulatory back-slapping for said name-calling. Thanks for the support. xoxo

  21. Oh, and P.S. to Anonymous: Non-organic foods can ABSOLUTELY impact the attention span of their consumers, particularly young ones with developing brains. I suggest HE/SHE/IT do HIS/HER/ITS own research and quit believing everything the corrupt FDA permits is safe.

    • After all, it WAS my freaking DOCTOR who recommended we try going organic. (We aren’t ready to try meds since he’s still so young. Who knows what the future holds…)

  22. Anonymous

    I’m in love with this blog and your follower’s comments. New follower, here. I’ll likely also post as anonymous, but not to be confused with the other poster. What a jack-ass. Thanks!

  23. Some moms have toooooo much time if they are making these lunches. It makes me question if they are really moms…or maybe the Stepford version. 😉

    • This blog started because of the suffocating feeling I had that I was living a Stepford Life. I couldn’t take the pretense anymore… (hence the name) 😉

      Thanks so much for commenting! =)

  24. Anonymous

    Just FYI, your trolls are from a site called Bratfree. They are childfree folk who have nothing better to do with their time than complain about kids and look around on the internet for mommy blogs to snark about.

    • Thanks! I knew the domain because Blogger tells me where my traffic comes from. I didn’t delve deep enough into the site to understand the premise behind it. Yes, they are definitely some horrendously bored people!

    • Serious mommy issues. Yikes. I want to send them thank you notes for not reproducing. On cards I handmade with recycled paper and dyes I made with beets and coffee grounds. And leftover veggies from bento boxes.

  25. Anonymous

    I greatly enjoyed your rant and I do sympathize. I have to finish up enough scraps as it is. I get that Bento is a Japanese cultural phenomenon, all cuteness and twee. They are pretty cute and amazing. However, the basic (adult) bento box is like portable tapas. Lots of little dishes. I like having the little compartments if I’m packing a lunch for my toddler. Lots of little attractively cut up things in cute little containers is a win for her. Not that I am cutting up bologna into Piglet’s ears! That one really cracked me up. I’m just waiting for the over-the-top bento boxes to show up as “food decorating” at the State Fair.
    I’m not really anonymous; I’m Marie.

  26. I would eat the lettuce and tomato slice, lick the butter off the bread, then wrap the bread and meat slice back up in the wax paper.

    At some point, Mom gave up on sandwiches and I went to school with a raw vegetable and whatever fruit was in season. I’m pretty sure I was the only kid who was happy to find a rutabega in her lunch sack. LOL – Vegetarian in training.

    This was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. There was no food available at school other than the single-serving wax carton of milk that everyone got thanks to a rural government program. If you forgot to bring your lunch, you either found someone to share with you or went without.

    Mom and I agreed not to tell Dad about my no-meat lunches. Less stress that way.

    • Oh man I think today’s school lunches are a billion times worse than any Bento creation a mother could come up with!

      So… I guess you turned out to be a vegetarian? 😉

  27. My son is ADD and the pickiest darn eater ever. My thinking is along the lines if I spent the hours making those creations he would turn up his nose and refuse to eat them.

    Also, I have not heard the organic connection to ADD and now I am thoroughly into checking that out! His picky eater tendencies means he gravitates towards the JUNK food more than the good stuff. Hmmmm….thinking!!!

    • My son isn’t too picky, though he does resent that other kids get “cool” food and he’s eating the healthy organic stuff. BUT – when he has moments of clarity, he thanks me for caring so much about his health and tells me he feels lucky to have a mom who loves him enough to do that. =)

  28. This is too funny! I am not a fan of any additional work. If you want crust free sandwiches, you better get out the knife. They are cute when other people do them though.

    • Agreed. I actually got the idea for the post from a friend who does them! (Luckily for me, she has a great sense of humor!)

  29. Anonymous

    Sure they are cute, but do you see after each lunch they share what they used to make the lunch? In addition to taking all that time they must all have arts and crafts containers in their kitchens to hold all the supplies. Because I am sure they do not use the same cutters all the time. They appear obsessed to me, probably half their kitchens is filled with the supplies. Another think that bugs me that almost all use baby carrots. I believe we all know that baby carrots are not baby carrots, they are carrots no one wants to buy, put into a machine hence their weird shape and treated with chlorine. They are dry and tasteless. Real carrots actually have flavor. With all their cutesy tricks I am shocked that these mothers are feeding this garbage to their kids. Sorry had to rant.

  30. Anonymous

    I am the anonymous above, with the rant about the baby carrots and all the supplies needed to make these boxes. My name is Alexandra and I just do not feel comfortable using my full name which is connected to my acts. Anyway I loved your post. Thank you for your sanity:)

  31. As someone who is recently getting into bento, you have to realize that these are made by stay-at-home moms. Most women in Japan are expected to become housewives after getting married, so that’s why they have so much time to create these lunches. There’s no reason to turn your nose up at something that makes these moms happy. I think it’s artistic and fun, and it’s basically a hobby for them. I do agree that it can be wasteful, but adult bentos, not charaben, are very eco-friendly.

    • Understandable. I work. I’m into what’s practical and healthy not cute. Sorry. I say do what makes you happy.