Packing your kids’ lunch can be a real challenge, especially when it comes to picky eaters. But as most parents will attest: even the pickiest of eaters will succumb to a plate of vegetables if it is properly presented. Li Ming Lee’s bento boxes are proof that a healthy meal can look as appetizing as a happy meal (and most often than not – even more!).
The creator behind the massively successful food blog Bento Monsters, Ming is a stay-at-home mom to two boys. Based in Singapore, her fascination with bentos (Japanese boxed lunches) is tied with her parenting experience. In fact, she started “bento-ing” when her firstborn began primary school in 2011.
“I’ve loved to bake since I was a teenager,” Ming further relayed in an interview with The Early Hour. “It started when we had our first lesson in baking during Home Economics in school. But I only started cooking after I got married and the passion for cooking came when I began making bentos for my first born.”
According to Ming, her son had problems adjusting to the longer hours at primary school and she hoped to cheer him up and let him feel her presence and love through her packed lunches and small love notes. And so, she found herself packing charabens: a style of elaborately arranged bento which features food decorated to look like people, characters from popular media, animals, and plants.
“It helped to give him something to look forward to at recess,” she notes. “He always enjoyed looking at the bento and lunch notes I prepared for him.”
Soon, her younger son began requesting these bentos as well, and Ming’s bento creations would become the edible artforms they are today. After documenting her creations and taking photos of them, she decided to launch her blog in 2011 as a platform for her to share these creations.
“I didn’t think people would be interested when I started the blog,” she admits. “I had only intended it to be a platform for me to make a journal of our lunches. Before the blog, I used to print out the bento photos and paste them on a scrapbook, and my boys and I would flip through it now and then. When the photos started piling up, I thought it was easier to just upload it on a blog.”
Over the years, making cute lunches evolved into a passion that Ming indulges in whenever she has pockets of free time. Take a look at some of her impressive creations in the gallery below.