Bento Class with Shannon of

Shannon-the-Bento-Master cutting strawberries into hearts.
Only in the serendipity of the digital world would it be possible to:

a) Find out there is an extremely talented woman in the art of bentos only about 15 minutes from me.

b) Be able to contact her and ask her would she, please, please, please come host a workshop to teach me and some friends.

Yesterday morning, Shannon of came to teach a class at my house on bentos.  (If you've never heard of bento lunches, check out her blog.  She has fantastic ideas.)

The idea behind bentos is that lunch is healthy, requires no prep work on the part of the person eating it (no heating, cutting, etc) and that it is visually interesting.  Shannon introduced us to all kinds of simple tools and tricks.

Erin-the-Wonder-Woman with her dinosaur bento.
My favorite was the way Shannon makes sandwiches.  She rolls the bread out with a rolling pin then either uses cookie cutters or a "lunch punch" to simultaneously get rid of the crusts and cut the sandwiches into fun shapes.  Shannon also sometimes rolls the sandwiches into spirals and cuts sushi style.

Shannon also said that not every piece of the bento has to be art.  Sometimes, you just pack basics and add one or two things to make it special. (Like a strawberry cut into a heart or cheese cut into stars on top of a salad.)

After the class, Nancy-the-Insightful and I went to Minoya in Plano which has a great bento box selection. We then went to Williams Sonoma to pick up one of Shannon's favorite tools--a set of 12 decorative cutters which she uses to make the mini stars, hearts and other items to make her beautiful bentos.

Shannon brought some of her favorite books with her.  In looking through them all, I liked this one the best for learning all about bentos from scratch.  Not only is it a good "idea" book, but it also outlines some simple concepts that you can use to make your lunch (and your families lunches) more interesting than a sandwich and a back of chips.

As it turned out, Nancy and I ran a bit late on our shopping trip, so I wound up eating my delicious lunch in the car on the way to Keene to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday. 

It really was fun to open the box and see something that pretty. Plus, I noticed that having a lot of different types of flavors and textures mean you are satisfied with a lot less food.  I definitely recommend getting into bento lunches!

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Maira Gall