Samantha Lee started creating food art in 2008 to encourage her daughter, then 19 months old, to eat independently.
Lee did some research online and started making the creations by using just a knife and scissors.
Over the years, though, her food art creations advanced. Now the mother of two in Malaysia draws her ideas out on paper first to organize her thoughts and prevent wasting food.
"I prefer to keep the shape of the food. Cutting them into odd shapes and bits and pieces is going to waste a lot of food," Lee, 37, said via email.
Cooking from scratch takes Lee about 30 minutes to an hour.
"I decorate while cooking and it takes me an hour to an hour and a half maximum from cooking from scratch to finish," she said.
She said cooking and thinking of a character were the easy parts.
"I will run through my Instagram feed for ideas such as which characters I have not done and which ones I should repeat with different types of ingredients or method," she said.
Lee decides whether the food is for breakfast, lunch, a snack or dinner, all while sticking to simple ingredients.
"It's more practical for families," she said.
The challenge is trying to execute the creation. "I like to create the simplest methods that don't need me to spend a long time to create the characters. I simplify them," Lee said.
Despite the effort she puts into her food creations, Lee said it's never hard to serve the food to her daughters Elizabeth, 6, and Evana, 4.
"It's such a joy to see the girls enjoy eating and make out stories from the food art I made," Lee said, adding that she challenges her daughters to guess what they see on the plate.
So far, she said, they have been pretty good at figuring it out.