For many it’s that time of year again. The annual “What do I pack my kid for lunch?” blah’s. I used to have this same dilemma until I came across a few blogs that feature Bento lunchboxes. For those of you unfamiliar with the art of Bento, it is a single-portion meal originating in Japan. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, packed artistically in a box-shaped container. I will stop right here and let you know I DO NOT take it to the level shown below. (smile)
Recently, I ran into another stay at home mom at school who said “I can’t BELIEVE you are still packing your kid’s lunch!” She added in an extra eye roll (not egg roll) for punch. At first it kind of made me feel like the chicken on the left.
Then a voice inside me said “She has mother guilt.” Given that I try to have lunch with Sweet Boy (accompanied by his friends) at least once a week, I knew what her kid was packing in his lunch.
Ok I’m not being exactly truthful. I forgot to add in the coke that he washes it all down with. (insert evil cackle) So instead I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oh I just can’t trust Sweet Boy to pack a healthy lunch, or his dad either for that matter. I pack his lunch too.” This was somewhat of a surrender flag raised on my part, but she got the message.
Given that Sweet Boy now has braces, as well as a palate expander device, this has made lunchtime all the more tricky. Everything must be soft or cut into small pieces. This bento includes ham, cheese, grapes and crackers tucked into cupcake liners.
A classic pb & j sandwich, pears, pretzels, raisins and chocolate chips. I used to find many of my fun food containers at Borders. Alas, they are now out of business. Sniff. But every now again the dollar store also carries fun plastic ware.
Most of the time I assemble lunch while I am in the kitchen cooking dinner. Often dinner becomes lunch the next day. My Sloppy Joe sauce hides a multitude of goodness such as finely chopped mushrooms and zucchini. The cheese provides a bit of dairy and protein.
The next morning I give the Joe a quick zap in the microwave and wrap it up in foil (which is later placed in the recycle bin). Going with a red theme, I added a box of juice, yogurt, teddy grahams and blueberries. A plastic red dino and cocktail sword add a bit of fun to the mix.
The compartmentalized ziploc container can be found at any grocery store. Plastic ware from Ikea is wrapped up in a napkin. (Zoo Pal utensils are also fun.) Sweet Boy is great at bringing the containers and utensils home for me to wash and reuse again and again. (But on the rare occasion he doesn’t, it’s ok.) I save a lot of money, not to mention the world, by not using throw away plastic lunch bags.
I then place everything into a traditional lunch bag. On the rare occasion we do a fast food run, our restaurant of choice is often Subway. They pack their kids meals into reusable lunch bags. Reuse we do!
I love referring to the book “Yum-Yum Bento Box” for ideas. While it will be a million years before Sweet Boy eats seaweed or tofu, it provides me with enough ideas to get my brain humming.
The fun accessories you can get for Bento’s are off the charts. Ebay has TONS of choices if you don’t have an Asian market near you. As usual, the girls have more of a selection. Given that Sweet Boy is now in 4th grade I have scaled way back in the cute arena per his request. Boo, no fun!!! I mean just look at some of the choices:
What’s in your lunchbox today?