Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

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501 Bento Lunches: 501 Unique Recipes for Brilliant Bento is a cute little book (about 6 inches / 15cm square, or the size of a small bento box as you can see from the photo). As the title says, it contains 501 bento box meals within its compact covers. If you’ve been a bento fan for any length of time, you’ll probably recognize many of the bentos in the book from blogs and Flickr pages around the web. There’s a brief recipe (in most cases more of an assembly how-to rather than recipes for individual components) for each bento, plus an introductory chapter with a how-to section and more detailed recipes by Amorette Dye, a.k.a. Sakurako Kitsa, one of the better known charaben artists in the English speaking world.

The bentos featured in 501 Bento Lunches lean rather heavily towards the cute and colorful, though not all are charaben/kyaraben. Pros: While you could spend many hours of internet browsing to see all of these bentos online, it’s nice to have them all in one book. Cons: The photos are in full color, but unfortunately the quality does vary a bit, depending on the skill of the photographer. The font used for the recipes is tiny, and to my eyes hard to read. That coupled with the format of the book, which is like one of the pocket-sized art books that make great little gifts rather than a cookbook, it might be hard to use this as an actual cookbook in the kitchen. However, it can provide hours and hours of colorful inspiration for your future bento creations.

(Full disclosure: I was invited to contribute my bentos to this book, but declined.)

  • Format/Size: Paperback, 288 pages, about 6 inches/15cm square
  • Publisher: Graffito Books
  • Amazon.com link; Amazon UK link (On Amazon UK it’s still called ‘500 Bento Lunches’ - they must have added one before the book went to print.)

The giveaway part!

I’m giving away one copy of 501 Bento Lunches, courtesy of the publisher, Graffito Books - the copy you see in the photo, minus the chopsticks. If you’d like a chance at it, just leave a comment to this post. To make it interesting (because as with all the giveaways around here, I think just a bunch of “please enter me” comments are boring) tell us what your one favorite bento making tool is. Is it an egg mold? Cookie cutter? Favorite knife? If you can link to a photo, all the better!

Deadline: Your comment must be posted here on or before 23:59:59 of Tuesday, July 7th.

Eligibility: Anyone!

The giveaway is now closed. The winner will be announced very shortly! Thank you to all for entering!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

213 comments

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Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My fave bento making tool is the darling little animal shaped bento picks! (closely followed by sauce bottles) Last week I cleared out a drawer in my kitchen to organize my rapidly growing bento making supplies!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tools are:

Helly Kitty egg mold (but since I'm now vegan, I use it to make onigiri and giant sushi).

Tree, Butterfly, Heart sandwich-sized cookie cutters. I have the cutest sandwiches!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

my good ol' flower-shaped cookie cutter is my fav tool for creating really cute shapes! :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I love my mini-steamer! Helps me quickly and easily add fresh veggies like kabocha squash, baby carrots, or broccoli to my bentos even when I'm groggy in the morning.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Already more than 45 comments, wow ;)

my favorite bento making tool is propably the bento box itself. We have a two-tiers Totoro one (for my husband) that all the family loves ;)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I haven't screwed up the courage to make any bento yet. :( I just look at bento sites and cute bento stuff on ebay and dream about it. But someday! *shakefist*

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I loved my bento box of course~! It was just the right size (two stacked compartments with an elastic to keep them together) and has the san-x characters, monokuro boo, on it. i've recently retired it because it's been with me for years and is beginning to look real worn. (^-^);

but, i do so love my sausage cutters and small sauce bottles! they really add character to the whole look of the bento and is really effective (in keeping the sauces )

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I am just getting started - thanks to an article in our city newspaper in early June! I've only made a few bento so far, but I really like the silicone cupcake holders and the cute animal picks.

I love this forum - and thanks to Maki and all who post their photos. You are so inspiring!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hi, I don really have a favorite tool, but there r few tools that must have on hand eg, microwave oven, toaster oven, non-stick pan and lastly my brain ;p

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My Lock&Lock box, which I bought based on a recommendation from you. The plastic ones are good but I adore my glass ones!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I love using cookie cutters to make fun shapes for my sandwiches and veggies!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I recently came across Just Bento while looking for information on growing shiso (Thanks Just Hungry!), so at the risk of sounding like I'm sucking up I'd say Just Bento is my new favourite tool for creating bento. It's given me inspiration when it comes to lunch and picnics. After that I really can't decide what's my fav - knife and wooden cutting block, chopsticks, Japanese rectangle frypan, ginger grater, mini mandolin... There's too much to choose from.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tool is my bamboo mixing spoon. I use it for everything, and it really looks like it! This thing has turned so beautifully dark brown from use. The SO is not allowed to use it, what can I say, I'm territorial! When I purchased it, it just felt right in my hand, you know? I hope that I am still using my little buddy when I am old and grey! ^_^

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I'd have to say cookie cutters, I use them al the time to cut things out into cute shapes....

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I just started reading about bento-making in the past few months, and have only applied my knowledge in tupperware containers, so far. Just got a tiny box and am trying to get better at it all.

I'd have to say the silicon cups are my favorite, so far.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I became interested in Bentos like 3 or 4 days ago..and Id already bought quite alot of stuffs alrd l: Havent really started making a bento but I will be doing soon !Haha.

The tool I like most is the NORI PUNCHES Id bought today. It is almost irresistible to eat a onigiri with cute shapes of seaweed !Dont you think so?

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My fave bento making tool is the egg mold. I guess because I love to eat eggs

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I fav bento tool ist the egg mold. I guess because I love to eat eggs in all kind of shapes and flavours

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

in!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite bento tool is my tamagoyaki-pan and my little soy-sauce-bottles. I would like to have cute little picking devices.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I think my favorite bento making tool is cookie cutters. I have some big enough to mold rice balls in, but I can also use them to cut lunchmeat into cute shapes.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Indispensable to me are my little containers for dressing, soy sauce, etc. And I love my rice cooker.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

The truth is the best bento tools is just a little spoon. I grant you it is not very inspiring. I can never get those little things in the bento without pushing and poking the veggies into place and my fingers are too fat.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I like to use the rubber ice trays as rice molds
little bit of oil wiped in the tray and put em in the fridge to cool after packing them.

no pics of what i have made but the ice trays are like these
http://www.ballerhouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/bone-chillers-2.jp...

various shapes around the net, space invaders, tetris, fish bones, and dentures.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tools are my onigiri maker/shapers. I use them the most of all the supplies that I have and they haven't let me down yet. I have the triangle one and also one that makes tiny cubes that are a better size for bento.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I don't really use tools besides a knife when making my bentos, but I do have a favorite box. I love my Laptop Lunchbox in the Whimsical color scheme. http://www.laptoplunches.com/

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

my favorite tools would be this sandwich cutter that I found at walmart, it's two dolphins with a small heart shape. (the first sandwich in the picture didn't come out to great because the bread I used was kind of odd sized, but I've since used it with other bread and oh! flour tortillas, dolphin shaped quesadillas are entirely too fun.) a pic of the tool and my first attempt at using it here
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3383/3643351090_0bc1fcb485.jpg?v=0

I also really love this little set of three small onigir molds I bought. They are all connected, a bear face, a heart and a star and I make what I call "popcorn" onigiri in them because they are so small you can pop them in your mouth and nom nom on them kind of like the popcorn chicken and shrimp snacks you can get at various fast food places! Alas, I has no picture and do not remember where I bought it, but I really love it!

Please enter me in the giveaway!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool is my onigiri mold. It makes onigiri so fast and easy!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have just recently started making bentos, so I don't really have any special tools yet, to be honest. I'm still a newbie at this :) but I'd love the book to get ideas and get more inspiration!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

For holding sauces and dressings, little containers with lockable lids are a godsend. They make my meals so much better - I'm not a huge fan of soggy lunches!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento-making tool would have to be my silicone muffin cups, which I purchased ultra-cheap at the dollar store. They are great for keeping sauces separate from the rest of the box's contents during transport. or keeping order between foods that shouldn't otherwise mix. I'm not a big fan of mixing too many flavours!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite would have to be my bamboo sushi mat. I'm notorious for having cute, Western-influenced sushi in my bentos, and friends always want a bite! Fried chicken strips, sliced thin, with carrot and just a little spicy mayo is my favorite filling.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento accoutrement are simple plastic dividers that let me think outside the box (so to speak) and diversify how I use my box's compartments. Thanks for entering me in the contest!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Colourful inspiration is always welcome and definitely needed. Thanks for another contest.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento-making tool? Probably the decorative picks, they're an easy way to add color and style to a bento while holding your food together/in place.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I haven't really been making bentos very much, but one of the coolest things that I've seen that i like are the egg molds. Even cooler, I've seen blogs of people putting eggs into Ice cream sandwich molds and holding them together with rubber bands. I've seen some pretty cool shapes with that.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My hands. Without them... well, this all wouldn't work too well.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool is my cookie cutters. they are just the right size to squish things into my box is pretty shapes.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento-making tool has got to be the the one that cuts sausages into octopus shapes. Tako wa kawaii desu, ne???

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite equipment would be a rice cooker: because I'm an absolute fan of rice and I'll be in big trouble without a rice cooker! I would love to have this book to learn how to make more bento sets so that I can bring it to school (I'm an undergrad student here in the States from Singapore) for lunch and make it for my 11 year old sister when I go back home during the holidays!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I would love to win your give away. I have been oogling over the new book but have spent too much money this week on basic supplies. I made my first bento yesterday and another today. I also make onigiri this morning. I am hooked.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool would probably be....my roommate. I always fill in the empty spaces with the fun and crazy things she makes (goat cheese quiche this week, who knows what she'll make next week, but I'm already looking forward to it!)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tool would have to be my small cookie cutters (in various shapes). Which allow me to turn any vegetable into a cute piece of food.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I've been making bento for about a year now and I would say my favorite tools include my Lock'n'Lock interchangeable plastic lunchwear, egg molds (my preschooler loves them with egg or rice) and the homemade napkins and furoshiki I whipped up on my sewing machine!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Love your website and have recommended it to many friends.

Most favored tool? Hmmmm.... I use food picks the most, but my favorite is definitely the rice molds. Cute, and my daughter loves the results.

Thank you for this blog!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I would love to recieve a copy of the new book. I have been drooling over it all week. But it is not available locally in Miami or Tallahassee. I have just begun making bentos this week and have spent all of my money on basics.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I think my favorite bento making tool (well, I use it for everything) is my ceramic knife. It's awesome.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have yet to make any bento's so I don't have a favorite tool, I'd really like to start though. I'm hoping that the win would give me ideas and the motivation to do it. I get a little lost by the great things I see others doing maybe I shouldn't try to aim quite so high and just start small and slow. But it would be good to take to work so yep hoping for a win.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Unfortunately I don't have any bento making tools aside from a random plastic container and utensils. But I find that being put on the spot all the time when making bentos has forced me to be creative with the ingredients I use. So, as a result I've started using vegetables/fruits (e.g.: thinly sliced carrots or long strips of lettuce or skewered peas/beans or even strips of apple peel) to help divide up my bento box, decorate the food and at the same time keep it colourfull and healthy (Thank you for this tip maki!). The best thing (IMO) about using vegetables instead of plastic wares is that its eco friendly plus its all perfectly edible so at the end of the day I have less items to wash. Saves me the hassle and money too in the long run! This is all thanks to you Maki!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool has to be my rice cooker! It cooks rice so nicely and saves me so much time. I know it's not cute or anything, but I definitely couldn't live without it ^_^