Packed lunches are great. They help you to save money, eat healthier, and even be a little more eco-friendly (especially if you usually get takeaway!). But, finding the motivation to pack a lunch everyday can be hard. That’s where these cute lunch box ideas come in!
Cute lunch boxes, or bento boxes, can take a fair bit of time to put together, so it might not be something for everyday. But, as a pick-me-up for a long week, or for a kid having a tough test, it’s the perfect surprise at lunch! We’ve put together a list of our favorite (and the cutest) lunch boxes to inspire you to create your very own.
1. A Chihiro and No-Face bento that will probably spirit you away
Show off your love for Studio Ghibli with this Chihiro and No-Face lunch box from BforBunBun! We love Studio Ghibli here at Feed Noodle, so it’s no surprise that we’re kicking off our list of cute lunch box ideas with this adorable bento. If you haven’t seen Spirited Away, do yourself a favor and watch it!
Chihiro is shaped from rice, imitation crab stick, and egg, while No-Face is made from rice, nori (seaweed), cheese, and egg. It might take you a few tries to get the shaping right, especially if it’s your first time. Pair off your characters with side dishes, like tamagoyaki, for a perfect lunch.
2. This crayon bento box that is sure to fill your lunch with color
Here’s a lunch box perfect for the kids (or the young at heart)! I don’t know about you, but as a kid, I always wondered how crayons tasted. Something that beautiful and colorful has to be tasty, right? Wrong! Save yourself the stomachache and try this crayon bento box by Love at First Bento instead.
The colorful crayons are made out of rice dyed using natural ingredients, like beets for red and turmeric for yellow. Of course, you can’t just be eating rice, so create a second tier with colorful side dishes like fruits and veggies!
3. An adorable Hello Kitty bento for the cat lovers out there
Did you know that Hello Kitty is celebrating her 45th anniversary this year? That’s right, she’s been around for a really long time. We think the best way to celebrate is with food, so why not try this Hello Kitty lunch box by Taste of Japan? Hello Kitty’s face sits on a bed of taco meat, which we will never say no to.
To shape Hello Kitty’s face, the recipe calls for a mold, but if you’re comfortable working with rice, you can definitely freehand it. You then use a corn kernel for the nose, some carrots for her bow, and nori for her eyes and whiskers!
4. This panda-riffic lunch box that you (almost) can’t ‘bear’ to eat
Talk about kawaii! This panda lunch box by LittleMissBento has us going awww at our screens. Who doesn’t love pandas? They’re cute, lazy, and so silly! One of the best things about this lunch box is it’s all put together in one container, so if you’ve been looking for a one-tiered recipe, here it is.
The hardest part of the recipe will probably be shaping the panda, but once you get past that, it’s all about putting the elements together to create your cute lunch box. For side dishes, LittleMissBento uses tamagoyaki and stir-fried pork, but you are welcome to substitute it with whatever you like!
5. A Sailor Moon lunch box that is sure to bring out your inner princess
Are you a champion of justice? Then the Sailor Moon Noodles Bento Box by Love at First Bento is probably perfect for you! Inspired by the popular 90’s anime, Sailor Moon, the lunch box uses a noodle base that is dyed in beet juice to achieve a baby pink look.
This lunch box is probably one of the easier ones to try out, since you don’t have to actually shape rice. If you have little cutters, then it becomes even easier to cut out the rabbit and crescent toppings for the noodles! You’re sure to want to save the Silver Crystal after making and eating this…
6. An owl-themed lunch box that is a hoot
There are over 200 species of owls and not a single one of them is purple, but we love this Fruit Safari Bento by Cooking Gallery all the same. This lunch box is perfect if you’re starting off making bento boxes and aren’t that comfortable with fancy shapes yet, since the owls are just giant ovals!
The recipe doesn’t give specifics on what was used to put together the owl, but you can probably figure it out from the photos. A good, natural ingredient used for dying rice purple is taro powder. If you can’t find this, you can easily dye the owls any other color and it’ll definitely be just as cute 😉
7. This spooky Sesame Street lunch box is definitely a treat
Here’s a great way to celebrate Halloween! This Sesame Street Halloween Bento by BforBunBun is giving us all sorts of spooky kawaii vibes and we’re here for it. Sure, Sesame Street may not typically be associated with all things dark and creepy, but let’s not forget that H is for Halloween…
The lunch box features three of my personal favorite Sesame Street characters: Elmo, Oscar, and Cookie Monster! Elmo even has a little skeleton costume on, which is just simply sliced cheese on nori. It might take a bit of time to shape all the characters, but for an annual event, why not?
8. A Spam Musubi bento box that will make you pig out
This lunchbox may not be the healthiest, but it’s simple and cute to boot! Spam Musubi is a popular Hawaiian snack consisting of spam on top of rice, wrapped with a strip of nori. The Piggy Spam Musubi Bento by JustOneCookbook elevates this simple dish, making it perfect for the lunchbox.
Our favorite part about this recipe is that if you’re nervous about shaping the rice, they suggest using the Spam container to help you out. That makes it even easier to put together the musubi. After that, cut out ham and nori for the other piggy elements, put together side dishes, and you have a perfect lunchbox!
9. An omu-rice bento box that will help you be the very best
Omelette rice is one of our favorite Japanese dishes! Make it pokemon-themed and we absolutely can’t resist. The Pokeball Omelette Rice by Love at First Bento uses a standard ketchup rice base wrapped with a smooth omelette, and topped with pokeballs. The best part? If you have cutters, this lunchbox comes together much quicker than you’d imagine.
To make the pokeballs, you simply cut out the shapes using imitation crab stick, cheese, and a light-colored cheese. You can then top with anything else you like, including sausages (which aren’t explicitly mentioned in the recipe, but looks simple enough to replicate) and hardy veggies!
10. This unicorn lunch box that is equal parts magical and delicious
Remember a time when there were unicorns everything everywhere? Unicorn cakes, donuts, smoothies… Well, now you have the Unicorn Vegetarian Bento by Taste of Japan. Yes, that’s right, this bento is 100% vegetarian! In fact, if you omit the egg from the recipe, the recipe becomes vegan.
The unicorn’s rainbow mane comprises zucchini and radishes, dyed with natural ingredients (e.g. purple cabbages!) to give them different colors. The dish comes together with side dishes like a boiled egg, tofu patties, and some blanched vegetables!
More cute lunch box ideas to inspire you…
This Totoro lunch box is just one of the most delightfully cute lunch bunch ideas! The recipe is entirely in Japanese, but we couldn’t resist sharing. You should be able to translate the steps easily, or just use the photo for reference.
To make these darn cute sushi versions of Rilakkuma, you’ll need to find inari (sweet tofu skin). Once you have that, follow the easy step-by-step picture guide and you’ll have as many little Rilakkuma heads to populate your lunch box.
Burgers for lunch? Yes, please! Filling rice burgers get a kawaii upgrade with adorable chick faces. Just cut nori and cheese for the eyes and cheeks, and use corn kernels for the beak, and voila!
If you’re a Kirby fan, then you have to make this simple yet charming lunch box! Shape rice into balls, use sausages for the feet (note: Japanese sausages are redder, so if you’re going for authenticity, you might need to dye yours), and pair with side dishes. Recipe here!
More lunchboxes for the Studio Ghibli fans in the house! This one is definitely more complicated than the rest, but if you’re a seasoned pro, go for it. You’ll need to cut out both cheese and nori in the shape of Jiji and his paw prints, so make sure to make a template ready.
There is no recipe for this unfortunately. But, from what we can tell, this gorgeous lunch box recreation of a lady is made up of fried noodles, half an okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake), spam, egg, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli!
Think this looks complicated? It’s not! As long as you can roll rice up into a ball, you’re golden. What’s more, the recipe features clear steps, with pictures, so even though it’s in Japanese, it should be easy to follow.
Rice is mixed with egg to give PomPomPurin his classic yellow color, and a shiitake mushroom works perfectly as his hat! You can get the recipe for this charming lunchbox right here.