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Posted on May 2, 2008 | 36 comments

Corn on the cob bento lunch

Corn on the cob bento lunch

Kids love corn on the cob, but a whole ear is simply too big to fit inside of a bento box. One way you can include it in a bento lunch is to simply cut it into manageable segments like I did below, or even split it down the middle of the cob so that the pretty rows of corn kernels are all facing up if you have a shallow box.

Ravioli and corn bento lunch for preschooler

My three-year-old is happy to eat corn on the cob as is, but I must confess to a little bit of bento accessory lust over flat corn holders that fit into a bento box. Maybe one of these days I’ll splurge out on cute football- or animal-shaped corn holders or other unusual corn holders on Amazon, but not quite yet. I’m a little concerned that Bug would remove them and wind up stabbing someone at preschool, which is why some schools have rules against sending along pointy food picks in the children’s lunches.

Juice jello stash for bento lunches

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Spinach & mozzarella ravioli in roasted garlic and tomato sauce, corn on the cob segment, steamed broccoli with vinaigrette, and homemade juice jello jiggler cup (from 100% blueberry and raspberry juice). I made these jello cups with Knox gelatin, but you can make a vegan version that stays solid at room temperature using agar agar seaweed (kanten in Japanese) as a thickener instead.

Morning prep time: 12 minutes, using leftover corn on the cob and a juice jello cup I’d made previously with my three-year-old. In the morning I multi-boiled the frozen ravioli and broccoli together in a very small pot for speed and energy efficiency. I’ve written about reading a study finding that microwave-cooked broccoli loses a lot of its antioxidants, so right or wrong, I felt a little better about boiling the broccoli rather than steaming it in the microwave as usual. (Read on for packing details and an Anpanman oshibori hand towel…)

Packing: I cut the ravioli into bite-size pieces to make it easier for my preschooler to eat, and packed the lunch in a 360ml Disney Cars bento box with one subcontainer removed to accommodate a little more ravioli. Because I knew Bug’s hands would be getting messy with corn, I sent along a new Anpanman-themed oshibori damp hand towel he got as a birthday party favor from one of the girls in his preschool class (thanks Yukie!). I like the little case as it has a screw-off cap that’s very easy for Bug to open on his own.

Anpanman oshibori hand towel and case

Corn lunch for preschoolerVerdict: Home run today, finally! Bug demolished everything at preschool, no leftovers. He told me afterwards that he likes smaller lunches that he can finish up at school, so going forward I’m going to try to be better about not overpacking (stay tuned!). If I gauge it right, I’ll need to start bringing a separate container of snacks for the playground after school instead of having him just finish up his bento.

FURTHER READING ON LUNCH IN A BOX:

36 Comments

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  1. How does bug eat the jello cup?

  2. @1 from Vanessa: I threw in a tiny plastic spoon from a package of Kiku brand mini Petit Pudding cups — it’s small enough to get inside of the plastic rabbit ears.

  3. I have a confession: even I love agar agar jellies… or any jellies for that matter. Kiku puddings or any japanese puddings. One thing I could not stop eating was japanese puddings while I lived there, especially a certains brand of creme caramel.

  4. And oh, from an episode of a Nigella Lawson’s cooking show, there was a neat recipe of a jelly, adult version, were you mixed frizzy champaneish wine (like asti spumante) with juice (she used rhubard juice from rhubard she had cooked in the oven, I’ve used raspberries but upped the sugar) and gelatin and let is let or did the same with regular white wine. The frizzy wine is really nice although it is hard to get it to set before all the frizziness is gone but nonetheless.

  5. Jessika,
    Ginger ale can also be used to provide fizziness inside gelatin. (At one point Kraft made special flavors specifically meant to be made using ginger ale. Now I just use it in any old flavor.)

  6. @5, Sterling, Cool, I will try that. I’ve tried it with sprite and other non-alcoholic fizzy drinks andr turned up the temp in the fridge so that it will go solid faster.

  7. this is a silly question, but is there a technique to cutting through the corn cob? i’ve tried to cut little disks before but have not been successful! tips?

  8. A wonderful bento!
    I saw the other bentos.
    I like soba bento you showed.
    I’m a Japanese man.
    My wife cooks my box lunch.
    Please check it out at our website.
    Let’s have mutual links with our website
    if you don’t mind it.

  9. You always find the CUTEST little containers – I love the bunny-shaped jello container, especially!! :0)

  10. I love your blog(s) – your bento lunches for Bug are very inspiring! I’ve started making lunches for my husband bento-style and he’s been enjoying every one. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us :)

  11. @3/4/6 from Jessika: Those little jellies and puddings are addictive, aren’t they? Unusual flavors, too.

    Thanks for the tip on fizzy jellos, with alcohol or ginger ale. Sounds really interesting and sophisticated; I’ll have to try them out with my fridge set to Cold. Maybe I’ll serve them as an adult dessert at a dinner party…

  12. @5 from Sterling: I really like the idea of the fizzy jellos — great tip on the ginger ale!

  13. @7 from A: I use a heavy chef’s knife or Chinese cleaver, lay the corn flat on a cutting board, make the first part of the cut and then roll the cob around so that there’s a partial cut all around the cob (through all the kernels where you want the cob to break). Once it’s scored and partially cut, I give the top of the knife or cleaver a quick whack with the heel of my hand to get it to cut through the cob with minimal crushing of the corn kernels. Hope this helps!

  14. @8 from Kato: I just checked out your website — good job of writing in English! Is there a way that people can comment and ask questions on an individual entry or bento? It could be really informative that way.

  15. @9 from VeggieGirl: Thanks, VeggieGirl! I’m glad I’m in the Bay Area where cute containers are cheap — I’m too stingy (frugal?) to pay much for any of my stuff if I can help it.

  16. I also have problems cutting through corn on the cob. Thanks for the tips! When you cut it, do you do so before or after you cook it?

  17. In Chemistry 101 lab, we did experiments cooking broccoli to see which one retained the most nutrients. We measured vitamin C, specifically, but any other water soluble vitamin would react the same.

    Boiling leached out the most (aside from the group that used vinegar, but who would actually boil their broccoli in vinegar) and microwave steaming leached out the least–even less than traditional steaming.

    I’m not sure I follow how the microwave would ruin the antioxidants, but since you’re packing the lunch with blueberry juice, I think I might be more concerned with the rest of the vitamins that are leaching out into the boiling water.

  18. @10 from Val: Thanks for the kind comment, Val, and it’s great to hear that your husband’s enjoying the lunches!

  19. @16 from Ashley: I usually cut the corn into segments after I cook it because I’m not sure how much is going to be left after dinner. There’s no reason you couldn’t cut it beforehand, though!

  20. @17 from kastinkerbell: See, this is exactly why I shouldn’t get too hung up on any one particular study! Thanks for the info — I’m not going to sweat it in the future. Whatever’s convenient that day is what I’ll do, and count on the overall balance of foods to provide proper nutrients.

  21. Perhaps this is a silly question but do you have a link as how to make your blueberry sugar free Knox jello?

    And where would I find a little spoon such as Bug uses?

  22. That ravioli looks really good! Actually the whole thing makes me hungry. ^_^

  23. Hello, Biggie!
    I’ve been hooked on your website for awhile–after I developed a peculiar obsession with (healthy) Japanese foods…I thought I should introduce myself, since we are both from SF Bay Area! I just decided to comment on a random recipe, but I think all your recipes are great!

  24. @21 from beauxbatons13: Glad you liked the jello & corn, beauxbatons! I’d love to try making the fizzy jello next…

  25. @22 from fourleafclover: I use the recipe on the back of the Knox gelatin package: dissolve four packets of gelatin in one cup of cold juice to bloom the gelatin, then stir in three cups of hot/boiling juice and stir. Pour into containers and chill — this makes really solid jiggler-type jello, not the regular soft jello. You can add a little honey or sugar to the juice if it’s not sweet enough for you, but I don’t tend to. I also usually reduce the recipe to one cup of juice total and one envelope of Knox gelatin.

    As for the spoon, I use the little disposable plastic mini spoons that come in the package of Kiku brand Petit Pudding cups (I wash and save them to reuse). I’ve also saved & washed little tasting spoons that you can get from ice cream parlors and gelaterias — they’re the perfect size!

  26. @24 from Kou: Thanks for the kind comment, Kou! It’s always nice to hear another local. :-)

  27. Hello !

    I live in Paris and since a few months i make bento. I’ve just bought a ricecooker, but I don’t have a microwave-oven . Is there any other solution that allows me to freeze rice (and other cooked bento stuff)?

    It would be great if you find some time to answer me .

    Thanks and sorry for my english !

  28. @29 from ornella: Well, one thing that my Japanese books recommend is using the reheat function on your rice cooker to re-steam refrigerated or frozen rice. Maybe try that?

  29. Hi. I am new to bentos but absolutley love them! I was wondering if you had any articles on your blog or any advice that you could give me on planning them. I notice that many bentos that are made (for children) are completely different everyday! This could get fairly expensive! Please help me if you can…I have a 3 and a 4 yr old I will be feeding. Thanks

  30. Hi Biggie- I’m back from my Boston trip and did my first-ever bento for the outbound trip. I was the envy of the airplane! I didn’t get photos, but I used a lot of your tips and it came out great. I had sandwiches, ravioli, and potstickers; plus kumquats, almonds and grape tomatoes as fillers. I also made a shaped boiled egg that cracked me up when I looked at it. (My husband asked me to make him an extra one for him, even though he was staying home- he just thought it was cool!)

    Again, thanks for the great tips and inspiration!

  31. @31 from Jolene: Keep in mind that I don’t show all of Bug’s lunches here on the blog anymore — there are elements that repeat, and much of the lunches are dinner leftovers that I throw into containers in the fridge. So it actually saves me money, rather than costing more. I’m not big on planning meals in advance (uh, I’m not that organized), so I just try to think of one element the night before that I’d like to include in the next day’s bento lunch and start to visualize the bento. This takes off some of the pressure when I walk into the kitchen the next morning.

  32. @33 from KittyPants: Welcome back from your trip, and glad to hear your airplane bento was a roaring success!

  33. Hi Biggie – love this idea of the disks for the corn on the cob. Is there a trick to keeping the corn from drying out? I tried packing half a cob once, but my daughter didn’t eat it cause by the time she got to eat it (3.5 hrs later), it was shriveled up.

    Also, unrelated to this bento, but I have seen you pack the cream corn croquettes for Bug also. How do you keep it from losing it’s crunchiness?

  34. @35 from Angela: Well, the corn was in a closed box (not ventilated), so drying out wasn’t an issue. I suppose you could try buttering it in the morning to provide a moisture barrier if drying out is a problem…

    With fried food, it’s important to let it fully cool on a rack before packing it in the box so you can avoid condensation. You can also line the area under the fried food with a little bit of paper towel or paper napkin to absorb any excess oil.

  35. My sister in law introduced me to this site and I’ve been reading non stop ever since !!!!

    Quick question…Do you pack ice packs with all your lunches ? My son will be starting school next year and I’ve always wondered is it necessary to pack an ice pack with everything. He loves mac and cheese and with an ice pack…it seems like it would ruin it….

  36. I’m going back through your archives, and I’m continually amazed at how well Bug eats what you give him. I have to say congratulations for that. I know it sounds simple to just give them kid-ified versions of what the adults are eating but in reality a lot of times kids don’t like stuff even when they’re exposed to it early and often…