Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guest Post: Bento Boxes Make Fun Lunches Easy!

Hello to the followers of Making Lunch Special! I am an old friend of Amanda's and your guest author today! It makes me feel kinda famous and cool but I promise you I'm not. You can follow my blog over at . I've been blogging since long before it was cool.

So I know the Leahys from when they were young pups in love at Purdue. We're all grown up now with kids of our own too and thanks to the wonder of Facebook, have still kept in touch. Like the Leahys, my husband and I are navigating the seas of parenthood. We have a 3 year old and 5 year old. Your prayers are appreciated.

This past August, our 5 year old started full day Kindergarten and I cried for about a week. The good news, though, is that she loves it and is very happy with her school and teacher. While mourning her transition into school, I realized that there are some things a mom of an elementary schooler needs to do each day. Help with homework, make sure they are wearing the right shoes on PE day, sort through office paperwork, drop off, pick up and make lunch!

Tessa's school has a really great hot lunch menu (which even includes Little Caesar pizza on Fridays) but I decided to pack her lunch for a handful of reason. First, it's way cheaper. At her school the lunches are $4 a day, which adds up pretty quickly. Second is that it's probably healthier (although you will notice some delicious cold pizza and giant marshmallows make our regular menu).

 But lastly, I wanted to show her my love through her lunchbox. I know that sounds a little cheesy but it's true. I'm not used to being away from her this many hours a day, and I miss knowing what she's doing at all times. Those other things are somewhat out of my control as we 'cut the cord' a bit, but I do have control over what surprises she finds in her lunchbox each day.

The best decision I made was to buy a bento style lunchbox. Bento just means little containers. You know when you eat Japanese food and they sometimes have bento meals with lots of of little compartments of little things to try? You don't?....really you should, it's delicious.

I bought her and her brother both a basic bento kit with insulated bag to fit at Best purchase ever!

I've dabbled a little bit in making cute shapes and faces on food like Amanda does, but I'm nowhere near her level of awesome. Partially because I'm too lazy. But nothing make food cute like a quickly added candy eyeball, and my kids have really enjoyed that part. 

Here is a smattering of pictures of some lunches I've made since school started....

Here I made cheese and PB&Js into star shapes along with some carrots and ranch (in the tiny container), pudding with candy sunflower seeds and a banna applesauce. They 'apple sauce squirts' as my kids call them, are a great portable snack! We like the Trader Joes brand because they come in lots of flavor.

Excuse the nuclear color here. I went through a short obsession with the 'super vivid' setting on my camera. Those are not nuclear yellow worms, but cheetos. Also ham and cheese pinwheels, grapes, yogurt with honey and a pickle pack.

With the packaged things, I've found that part of the trick is to find things that fit into the box, otherwise it won't close. For instance, most yogurts are too tall.

One of Tessa's favorites...her Greek lunch. Those are pita chips with olives, carrot and a big vat of hummus for dipping. Plus an applesauce and giant marshmallow. Because it's giant, and cool.

Mini bagels are a perfect fit. I really need to buy some more of these cause the kids really dug them. This is a pretzel mini bagel with cream cheese, veggie chips, raspberries and yogurt. The kids Dannon with Micky Mouse on it is the perfect height!

So the only tricky thing about the box can be fitting things in just right. For instance, traditionally cut leftover pizza doesn't fit...but square cut pizza does! All the more reason to eat at Arni's.

I used a little melted chocolate to adhere eyeballs to their plums one day. Freaked the 3 year old out, though. He wouldn't eat it.

But he sure does love a dinosaur ham or PB sandwhich. This was just done with a cookie cutter and some candy eyeballs.

So I get questions on how things all stay in place without jumbling around. Well, several of the contatiners inside have lids, so anything that is liquidy or sticky gets a lid. (Look there are the nuclear yellow worms again)

Then the big box closes very tightly over the little ones, so there's no room for things to jumble around and intermingle.
Inside the bag is a spot for an ice pack to keep it all cold.
Then it all zips up in an insulated bag with a spot for a juice box on the outside. Unfortunately the juice doesn't stay cold but nobody at my house has complained about that.

I've really enjoyed making her lunch and I think seeing the containers makes it easier to pictures both balanced choices and correct portions. I know for sure it make it easier for her to eat as well, because she can see her whole meal laid out in front of her. Last year she took her lunch to preschool and was notorious for not eating it. I think because there were so many little items packed in ziploc bags that were hard for her to open, plus hard for her little brain to think of as a complete meal. So she would eat the crackers and ditch the rest.

She also loves how 'cool' her lunchbox is and showing her shapes and eyeballs to her friends. She's happy, I'm happy...and I feel like I'm giving her something important every day. Lunchbox love.

No comments:

Post a Comment