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Posted on Feb 5, 2008 in Bento, Equipment, For Kids, Parent Hacks, Review, Sandwich or Wrap, Shopping, Tips | 41 comments

Dinosaur sandwich cutter & lunch

Dinosaur sandwich cutter & lunch

Dinosaur-shaped sandwich cutterWith this lunch I tried out a little DynoBytes sandwich cutter that my friends Dana & Jeff sent me from their local Bed Bath & Beyond. I’d seen these in my local supermarket before but hadn’t splashed out for one, so this was a guilt-free way of trying one out (thank you!). Essentially a specialized cutter, it removes the crust and creates two cut-out sandwiches of the same size and design, with minimal waste. This particular one is dinosaur-shaped (perfect as my son’s been studying dinosaurs in preschool lately), but I’ve also seen bear- and somewhat heart-shaped cutters. To use, the manufacturers tout making the sandwich first and then using the cutter to create the shapes and seal the edges, but I find that the sealing of the edges produces a sandwich that’s too dense for my personal taste (your mileage may vary). Cutting each piece of bread separately yields better definition and lighter bread if you have the patience for it, but I can see that this would be a pain if you’ve got multiple layers of fillings like cheese, veggies or meat. I tend to make Bug’s sandwiches with spreads, so it’s fine for my needs. Large cookie cutters would serve the same purpose, but probably with more waste as this is optimized for sandwiches. Here are some ideas on what to do with the leftover scraps.

Dinosaur sandwich bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler lunch: Dinosaur-shaped sandwiches of cream cheese and Marmite yeast extract spread (sold here) on whole wheat bread, rambutan fruit, blueberries, bite-size pudding cup, tiny tangerine, and sauteed snow peas with garlic and Thai oyster sauce. The shelf-stable Kiku Petit Pudding cups (like a little flan or creme caramel) can be found here and here online, and in Cost Plus World Market’s retail stores in the U.S.

Morning prep time: 7 minutes, using leftover snow peas. In the morning I just made the sandwiches, reheated the snow peas in the microwave, and cut the fruit open. (Click to read the full entry with Asvel bento box review…)

490ml Asvel bento box with closable ventPacking: I used one of the box’s three removable subcontainers to pack the moist snow peas away from the fruit. If I didn’t have a subcontainer specific to the box, I could have used reusable silicone baking cups or disposable coated paper ones. In addition to cutting the rambutan peel around the middle, I freed it from the base and popped it totally out of its skin once to make it easier for three-year-old Bug to eat on his own. I tucked a tiny plastic spoon for the little pudding alongside the sandwich, and peeled the tangerine after I took the photo when I realized it was going to be harder for him to peel than a loose-skinned Satsuma. He’s only got so much time for lunch and he gets distracted when his friends finish before him and go play, so I try to make his food easy for him to eat.

Bento box: The lunch went into a new 490ml one-tier bento box with removable subcontainers from Asvel, a company that puts out sturdy, well-made bento boxes. The last Asvel box with subcontainers that I had lasted for years until one of the flaps wore out, so I’m hoping to have similar luck with this one. The other key feature with this box that I’m jazzed about is the steam vent in the lid. There’s a plastic stopper in the vent hole that can be removed if you need to close up a lunch before letting the food inside cool thoroughly. With airtight bento boxes, if you don’t cool the food before putting the lid on, condensation builds up inside, increasing the chances of food spoilage and the development of a vacuum inside of the box that makes it difficult to open the box (definitely an issue for children with less hand strength). Thanks to this design, I was able to position the hole in the lid right above the still-warm snow peas and close the lid without worrying (see the open vent and the steam on the lid in the photo below). BTW, the base and subcontainers are microwaveable, but not the lid. Thanks to Jen from the Delphi Forums bento board for getting this to me! Evidently she got it from Mitsuwa in San Jose.
Dinosaur sandwich bento lunch for preschooler (lid closed)

Verdict: Thumbs up over time. Bug ate the sandwich, tangerine and little pudding during preschool, leaving the rambutan, blueberries and snow peas until afterwards. He ate the fruit and a few of the snow peas as a snack. I’m still working on winning Bug over to Marmite. He ate the sandwich, but said he didn’t like the Marmite, which I’d spread very thinly inside. He liked the cream cheese, though, so thankfully that was enough to make him overlook the Marmite. I’ll continue to work on him!

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  1. Yum, looks good, and I love the idea of cutting the fruit free from its skin first but putting it back in- a kind of handle for kids who might be picky about touching sticky things (limited experience with rambutan, but lychees are a little wet/sticky, so I assume it’s similar). I LOVE the dinosaur sandwich cutter- a friend of mine recently started bento’ing and asked me how I manage to cut the sandwiches so easily and together and I was really confused until I realized she was cutting each piece individually. I thought you were supposed to cut them together and she said it was so much easier once she did that, but those were meat/cheese sandwiches… yum.
    Possibly silly question about the vent- you leave it open, do you leave the little piece in your bag to cover up later? Also you’d then have to be more careful about how roughly you handle the lunch to prevent leaking/spilling, yes? Thanks!!! I have a couple of boxes with vents but I never use them.

  2. Thats the cutest sandwich cutter ever! I need to check bed bath and beyond.

  3. What a cute sandwich cutter :)
    Now I won’t be able to do anything till I find some sandwich cutters to buy….

    Have a great day, Margot

  4. I want my sandwiches to be shaped like dinosaurs!

    That’s possibly the coolest thing ever.

  5. Have you tried miso as a sandwich spread? It’s surpisingly good on toast with some butter, like marmite (which I’ve never tried), miso should be very thinly spread, but I’m guessing it would be yummy with cream cheese in a sandwich too. Start with the mild white (shio) miso which is also sometimes a little sweeter, the red is much saltier and stronger in flavor. It’s a nice change from the standard sweet PB&J to have something creamy and salty.

    Another weird sandwich combo I just learned about but haven’t tried yet: PB&P – peanut butter and pickles! (using dill chips) I don’t know if this is a southern thing as we’re new transplants to a southern state, but it’s crunchy, sweet and salty, a taste sensation. Kids would love this or hate it.

  6. How timely my husband just brought home that dinosaur cutter last night although he found it at the evil Wal-mart empire.

  7. I spotted the Dinosaur Cutter at the store yesterday too, it looks so cute :) Yummy lunch too.

  8. Mmmmm, marmite! I didn’t know it had made it over to the US. Less is definitely more but I love the stuff. The UK ad campaign is based around the tagline, “Love it or Hate it”.

    As a kid we used to eat Marmite and potato crisp sandwiches:-)

    They have (limited edition) Guiness – and Champagne – based versions for St Patrick’s and Valetine’s day respectively.

  9. @8 from docsarah: Oh my, I would give my left arm for some of those limited edition Marmites (esp. the Guinness)! (Guess I’m off to eBay to get some Valentine’s Day Champagne Marmite for my husband — don’t tell him!). Don’t suppose you’d be interested in a bento gear for special Marmite swap, would you?

  10. @1 from Yvo: Rambutan fruit is a little moist, so Bug appreciates the little handle (and asks for an oshibori afterwards). I suppose I could have packed the little vent stopper to close the hole up afterwards, but I thought that Bug would lose it, like, immediately. There’s nothing really liquidy in this lunch that would leak much — I drained the snow peas in my little strainer and bowl before packing. If you had more moist foods inside you’d want to be more careful with the little hole and how you handle the box in transit.

  11. @2 from wonders: Thanks, wonders! The cutters are quite widely available in a number of designs.

  12. Hmm, BBB had none on their site..
    Checking walmart now… nope. Boo. If anyone finds it online but from a brick & mortar store, please give a shout! Thanks!

  13. I have the same bento box. I got mine at Mitsuwa in New Jersey. I love it but sometimes I need an extra small bento for fruit or veggies.

  14. Waisze- thanks, but I was referring to the dinosaur sandwich cutter :)

  15. @3 from Coffee and Vanilla: Good luck finding the cutters; I hope it’s not too hard to find something equivalent in the U.K. Let us know where you found them if you do!

  16. @4 from Boosette: Ha ha, who knew the dinosaur cutter would be such a hit?!

  17. I found the cutter and a matching sandwich box at Current. They offer a pink heart design too. I’m thinking you could use the cutter as a divider in the box if you were packing two dry items for a snack or small lunch. They are each on sale for 50 cents off. They are also offering free shipping but you need a catalog code. Maybe if you call they will give it to you?

    The cutters:
    http://www.currentcatalog.com/087935.html?AS=1&keyword=dinosaur

    The boxes:
    http://www.currentcatalog.com/087937.html?AS=1&keyword=dinosaur

    Also, thanks for introducing me to the rambutan fruit. I have several children in my first grade class who are Karen refugees. I’m sure it would delight them to share this fruit with our class. (We are having a “heart healthy” red foods taste test for Valentine’s Day.) I will look for some this weekend!

  18. @5 from Yvette: I haven’t tried miso on sandwiches, but theoretically it makes sense as it’d include the ‘umami’ taste like Marmite does. I’m currently on the lookout for alternative sandwich spreads for Bug — we’ll see if he does any better with miso, then!

    PB&P (peanut butter & pickles) is something I haven’t tried yet, but I’ll remain open-minded until I do. When I was in high school we had a German exchange student staying with us for a while who liked sandwiches with liverwurst and bread & butter pickle chips inside. Sounds repulsive, but it was actually surprisingly tasty!

  19. @6 from Jamie: Perfect timing, indeed! Press & cut away!

  20. @7 from Nicole: Thanks, Nicole! I’d been resisting spending money on the dinosaur cutters because I already have QUITE ENOUGH BENTO STUFF in my kitchen, but I guess it was meant to be with me after all (found a way in). Which store did you see it in? I’ve seen them at Safeway here.

  21. @12 from Yvo: Hey, try Safeway — I saw it there before.

  22. @13 from waisze: It’s a good-quality box, isn’t it? You can tell the difference between it and the 100-yen-type boxes when you hold it — solid construction. Thanks for the New Jersey Mitsuwa heads-up; that’ll be helpful to NY/NJ readers.

  23. Love the sandwich cutter concept. I found a store near me (near being in my state instead of another country) which is starting to stock some of these sorts of things which I had only seen in Japanese or American stores previously, so hopefully next time I am there they will have this. Australia is catching up on the cute and innovative cooking devices finally.

  24. Good Morning! I spotted the Dinosaur Sandwich cutter at our local Wal-Mart. I’ve wanted to buy it and see if my son likes it too, it might have to go on my wish list :)

  25. I like the dino cutter too, but its a little hard to push it through the layers of a sandwich. My fave is still the old metal cookie cutter. It makes nice clean cuts.

  26. @23 from Metanoia: What’s the name of the store (and city) you’re talking about in Australia? I’m sure our Aussie readers would be interested in hearing about your find.

  27. @24 from Nicole: Well, they cost about US$4, so it’s not an outrageous price for something on your wish list…

  28. @25 from hoppers: I agree about it being hard to push through sandwich layers. Metal cookie cutters are great (and they’re multi-taskers), but there may be more waste with them depending upon the shapes you use.

  29. @26 Biggie: I am in South Australia. I don’t remember the exact name of the store, but it was in the Northpark shopping complex for anyone to the North of Adelaide. They had a larger focus on things that could also be handy for having kids in the kitchen or kids you are making meals for than some of the other homeware stores around here. There are some small “icing stencils” for example in cute shapes that would be perfect for furikake seasoning. Also I found we can get those icecream moulds you mentioned in a previous entry here now in several stores including “The General Trader” which has stores in Adelaide and Tea Tree Plaza for two…

  30. I have that same box, but I thought the vent was supposed to vent without the stopper being removed. I have to take it out to vent the steam? And then send the box off to school without the vent?

  31. @29 from Metanoia: Thanks for the Oz shopping info, Metanoia! There are a surprising number of Australian readers here, so this might be interesting for them.

  32. @30 from snappiness: Take a close look at the lid, snappiness — you’ll find that it’s watertight when the stopper is in place, so nothing would vent that way.

  33. I found the same cutters on UK eBay, also similar one with two hearts… :)
    I will look for some more designs before buying… I already have same food pics and same egg moulds like you… ;) That is a pity that there is such a small variety of bento items online.

    Enjoy your weekend, Margot

  34. @33 from Coffee & Vanilla: Glad to hear you found a (somewhat) more local source for the cutters, C&V! I hear you on variety, but there are lots of different bento accessories out there if you poke around (not only online, but also in your local stores if you put on your creative “bento glasses”). Some eBay sellers charge a premium when they tack on the word “bento” in the description of widely available kitchenware, though — beware.

  35. @17 from Courtney: Thanks for the online sources for the dinosaur cutters, Courtney! Were you able to find any rambutan for your students’ red fruit taste test on Valentine’s Day?

  36. @35 from Biggie: I have had no luck finding fresh rambutan. I checked our Whole Foods Market and two local Asian markets. All said they carry them at times but not regularly. One of the stores had them in a can so I might go for that until I can find them fresh. I know it would mean a lot to my Karen students to have some at school to share with friends.

  37. @36 from Courtney: That’s too bad; good luck finding the fresh rambutans. I bet your students would get a kick out of the funny bristles on the peel.

  38. For the Dino Cutter – I spotted it in a store on the weekend (go Australia! We’re catching up with these trends) In South Australia there was one in Howards Storage World in Tea Tree Plaza, Modbury for around $5.

  39. @38 from Metanoia: Thanks for the Modbury shopping info, Metanoia!

  40. I’m a little new to your website, so I was wondering where I could get the little pudding cups ^^

  41. hmmm I love this lunch as always! but i don’t know where to find the little pudding cups they seem so convient and so cute!

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