Thursday, February 25, 2010

On a "Bento Box" kick

I'm hooked on the Bento Box concept.  My neighbor Emily, who is my original inspiration for assembling bento boxes, possesses super human mom powers, seriously, she makes her kids the most amazing lunches by packing it the "Bento" way! 

I loved the concept and soon began packing my own version of a Bento Box for my boys because I wanted to provide them more variety,  healthier choices and offer greater convenience.  It takes no more time than what I was doing before and actually saves me money, I'll explain.

Opening up one container with everything ready to consume is extremely convenient!  Have you ever had lunch at school with your child?  My oldest son has 20 minutes from the time he sits down to open his lunchbox, get every compartment, bag and container opened and devoured.  I sat for the first 5 minutes helping all his friends open milk containers, go-gurt packs, fruit cups, chip bags, juice boxes, cheese sticks and anything else their little hands couldn't open themselves.   By the time I was halfway through my salad, they were lining up ready to play!

My kids actually do love fruits and veggies, but this was profound...just by simply having the items ready to consume (no bags to mess with) they were more apt to eat everything I packed.  I always throw in items that I know they will love (my little one loves tomatoes...crazy, huh!)

My kids love to nibble on lots of things and not necessarily on the same item.  I've been able to open up their food choices by giving them a broader variety.  By not putting a whole bag of chips or crackers that might have previously filled them up, they will eat all the little veggies, fruits and even get a special snack along with their main course. 

We don't live close to an asian market so instead I found this little Sterilite container at Target and although it may appear to look small, this little guy can pack a perfect amount of food for lunch!  It measures 4 x 6 inches and approx 1 3/4" tall inside.  I like this particular box because it is so simple to open - all four sides have a snap that little hands can flip open with ease.   I found a drink cup that was small, easy to open, without a screw top and leak resistant (I know, if there is such a thing, but this one does work well).  I purchased this little gem at Target too  (in the sporting goods section).

Simply Cutting up some of the foods in different shapes or using cookie cutters, adding decorative toothpicks, special utensils or cups just adds to the fun!  I usually cut the boys sandwiches with either the Mickey Mouse or Flower cookie cutters.  Yes, I do have boys and they do get flower sandwiches sometimes.  I'm just not sure that a lightsaber cookie cutter would yield much of a sandwich after it was used.  *grin*  I also use different things from my kitchen to separate some of the food when it's in the container.  I'll use an assortment of items like mini, medium and large baking cups, doilies, waxed paper, bento dividers and even other plastic cups.  Thank you Emily again for some very fun food decorations!

The best advice I can give, is make sure you are using all the space in your box.  When things start to move around, it can get a little ugly inside and food can start to mix together and the last thing you need is something soggy.  I try and pack items tight and fill in all the gaps.  I do usually put my napkin inside along with any utensils.

We have been really getting creative with our lunch choices.  It's not just a turkey and cheese sandwich anymore.  We've been trying different types of sandwiches, sometimes no sandwich at all, the other day I made pumpkin muffins and the boys wanted those for lunch along with fruit and yogurt.  We do leftovers, pasta seems to be a favorite.  Anything that will tuck nicely in the box and doesn't need to be heated up is a great choice.  My kids don't seem to mind room temperature foods, although most times we've got a freezer pack keeping things cool. 

Save yourself money and consider purchasing the bulk conterpart to the items that you might normally have purchased that are packed for individual consumption.  Not only will you save money, your also saving the environment because now your producing less waste!  Hooray!  Assemble your food smart and you won't need separate bags!   

I hope you enjoyed reading about my version of a Bento Box...For more information and some great recipes, check out some of these websites that I've really enjoyed reading, they are so informative and thorough.     

My favorite Bento Box site is: Lunch in a box (building a better bento).
Great Recipes and Meal Suggestions: Meal Makeover Mom's Kitchen
Amazing Recipes and Great Mom Inspriation The Executive Mom

1 comment:

Debbie Flattum said...

This is very cool, Kelly. My kids are grown, but this makes me want to start packing lunches again. Thanks for all the detail and pictures.