Bento Lunchbox: Rice Balls



If you spend any time on Pinterest, you’ve undoubtedly seen the cutesy lunch boxes where people turn food into works of art, called ‘bento.’ Bento is Japanese for ‘lunch box.’ I’ve watched them for a while, but when we decided to put the kids in school, I started a Pinterest board with this most creative ideas in order to inspire me.

There are many tools you can use to decorate bento-style lunches. Unfortunately, those tools cost money and that’s in short supply right now while we work on two other projects (displaying at the regional state fair for It Works! and replacing all of the plumbing in our house, ripping out multiple walls and ceilings), so I decided I would just do what I could with what I have. For now, that means Lunchbots, one Monbento and kitchen shears, all previously purchased.

A bento can be done in any container, it doesn’t have to be a short, rectangular, multi-tiered lunch box. Typical bento boxes are short, I believe, in an effort to allow you to pack the box tightly and to the top so that the contents don’t shift during transport. But if you’re creative, you can use what you have and still make it work.

Saturday night, I decided I would construct a bento for each child to eat for Sunday’s lunch, to see if they would eat it and if they liked it. I decided to make rice balls, called onigiri in Japan, for the first go-around, as they like all of the ingredients involved. Rice balls can be made with just plain rice or you can include a filling. I decided to fill Trey’s with tuna and mayo, and Belle’s with leftover, chopped roast beef and mayo.

I used a short grain brown rice, as that was what I had on hand. It is necessary to use a short-grain or sushi rice so that they will stick together. If you use a long-grain rice, your rice balls will fall apart because those types of rices are fluffy and not sticky once cooked. So white or brown, sushi, sticky or short-grained rices are what you need.

I made the rice balls and tucked them into their Monbneto lunch box with a tiny little condiment cup of tamari, with little pieces of veggies tucked around- broccoli, carrot, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. I used a silicone muffin cup to hold the grapes and blueberries. I decorated one of the rice balls with a little smile made out of Seasnax.

The results were wonderful. Both kids loved the rice balls and ate everything in their containers. I made more for the next day, and also included some egg salad in a second container. One Monbento is meant to hold one meal for one person.  Because the kids are sharing the one container, I have to add a second container to include enough fat, protein and veggies to make a decent-sized meal that will hold them until school is over.  I will get a second Monbento as soon as I can swing it.  With us having to literally replace all of the plumbing lines in the house and ripping out and repairing multiple walls and ceilings, that might be a while.

To mold the rice balls, I used a Lunchbots condiment cup. It was the perfect size to make a two-bite rice ball for an adult, or 3-4 bites for a child.



Shared at Real Food Forager, Time Warp Wife, Chef in Training, Growing Home, Not Just a Housewife, Nap Time Creations, Far Above Rubies, Whole New Mom, We Are that Family, The Nourishing Gourmet, and Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

I'm KerryAnn Foster. I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with my husband, Jeff, and our two kids, a teen and a tween. I blog here at Intentionally Domestic (formerly Cooking Traditional Foods). I blog about Paleo, beauty, health, family, homeschool and lifestyle for women in their 30s and beyond. I have over sixteen years of real food and natural lifestyle and health experience.

I am also an It Works! Global Triple Diamond Independent Distributor. I love that crazy wrap thing! I have been extremely happy with how the It Works Products have tightened up my loose skin and healed my stretch marks after losing 179 pounds and having a 10-pound baby.

Read about my journey to health through celiac disease, PCOS, food allergies, obesity, adrenal fatigue and heavy metals.


  1. Wendy says:

    So cute! Thanks for sharing. I will have to try these!

  2. Emily says:

    I think my kids would LOVE this!! Yum! Thanks for linking up to Tasteful Tuesdays at Nap-Time Creations… you are being featured this weekend. I’ve tweeted, posted and +1’d the feature… Id love for you to repost on you social media :o) Emily

  3. jmr says:

    I’ve eaten rice balls, but never made them. What a great idea, and I have all the ingredients on hand, including nori.


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