For making good bento box lunches, especially for kids, you need a variety of colorful, bite-sized foods. This is true in general, but particularly in making artistic bentos. You need foods that are easily shapeable and provide certain colors. Besides the obvious white rice, here's a round-up of 12 common colorful bento foods and some good examples. Also, don't forget about sandwich bentos. You can use cookie cutters to give your sandwich a fun theme shape.
Below are good examples of foods for every color except blue. There are virtually no natural blue foods, except maybe eggplant. Otherwise, you can simply use food coloring. Good bento making!
1. Nori Seaweed is a staple in Japanese bentos. It can be cut like paper and appear black on rice. Use them to make face details. Nori punches are widely available which make this process a whole lot easier.
2. Crab Sticks are not really crab, but provide a good red color. Use as is, or peel the skins and wrap around mini, shaped rice balls.
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3. Sliced Cheese usually comes in white or orange. Easy to cut. Great for making eyes.
4. Ham can be used much the same as cheese. Provides a good flesh color.
5. Omelet: Egg sheet omelets provide a good yellow and can be easily cut. Also, here's a good recipe for the traditional Japanese rolled omelet.
6. Quail Eggs: Boiled, these cute little eggs can be made into many things. I've seen them used to make faces, ghosts, and Eve from Wall E.
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7. Sausages can be cut to make hearts, octopuses, reindeer antlers, or other cute shapes.
8. Meat Balls: Make little faces on them.
9. Carrots can be cut with cookie cutters in a variety of shapes.
10. Cherry Tomatoes can be used as is, make little faces, or cut to make hats or noses.