My Adventures In Bento

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Adventures in Bento: The First Week of School Aug 25-29, 2014

on August 29, 2014

Well, I have survived. Five whole days of getting up two hours earlier than I did all summer. Five whole days of reminding Delaney that we now need to get dressed and ready quickly instead of lollygagging like she did last month. Five whole days of preparing healthy lunches for my girls to take to school. And I did it!  Woohoo!!!

Starting out making lunches again felt very awkward. Not only had I taken the entire summer off and had gone so far as to just letting them “find something” in the kitchen the last week or two, but I had gotten lazy on the bentos even while school was still in session last year. Around mid year last year, I happened upon a Japanese supply store and bought great lunch boxes that had four separations. (I will show that to you in a later blog) After a while, I found myself using that box every day and, since I no longer needed to get clever with my packing, I ended up getting rather lazy. So, it’s been a very long time since I bentoed properly. However, after Monday’s awkwardness, it started coming back to me and I’m really enjoying things.  I’m hoping I can really keep it up at this level all year. Both girls have come home this week and told me how their friends think their lunches are so cute and how they wish their moms would make them lunches like that. It was really good to hear that my work is being appreciated. :o)

Another change from last year is that I’m sending the girls with morning snacks as well. Now, I sent Delaney a snack for kindergarten last year, but it normally ended up being a granola bar or applesauce pouch and a small box of raisins. Boring and it produced a lot of trash with the wrappers. This year I am utilizing some of the smaller single tier boxes that I have and sending the girls with some fruit and crackers instead. I’m eliminating the waste of the wrappers, saving money (those applesauce pouches are pricey!), and finding a great use for boxes that are super cute, but too small for a whole lunch. Win/win/win!

(Side note: I have decided to start writing reviews and posts about the specific equipment I use for bento. When I first started, I really wanted to be able to find detailed pictures, dimensions, prices, and ideas on how to use certain items. While I was able to find information on certain items, others I couldn’t and I ended up having to trial and error a lot of things. I’m hoping that I can help other newbies to bento avoid that hassle. So keep your eyes open for these informational posts. I will do one post per item so I can be as informative as possible)

But, onto this week’s bento!!

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Monday’s lunch was fairly simple, but I did get to try the waffle sandwiches I saw in Wendy Thorpe Copley’s book Everyday Bento.  The waffles are mini chocolate chip frozen waffles that I got on a whim from Sprouts. They come four stuck together, which makes them easy to toast. After they cooled, I put peanut butter on one side, jelly on the other, and then sliced a fresh raspberry for the middle. The girls LOVED them. They also got cheese sandwich crackers, grape tomatoes, fresh blueberries with a pick, and 2 Gummy Tummies. The Gummy Tummies and crackers both came from Trader Joes. I love that store for lunch items because they have great, healthy options and the prices are nice. (I paid $2.69 for the crackers and $1.69 for the gummies, I believe) Plus, because they come in small and cute shapes, they’re perfect for bento lunches.

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Tuesday came and I decided to pull out my CutezCute sandwich cutters. Because this box is deep, but not very big, I did a lot of layering. The girls got kitty PB&J sandwiches that are resting on cheese sandwich crackers. They also got red grapes, which are laying on celery sticks, cut red apple with an apple star on top, and 2 Gummy Tummies. The Gummy Tummies are laying on a small container of ranch dressing for the celery.

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Wednesday, I used the CutezCute cutters again, only this time we had panda ham sandwiches. Also included was the cheese sandwich crackers (Delaney really likes these), champagne grapes, and alphabet cinnamon cookies. Both the grapes and the cookies came from Trader Joe’s. I told you they have great, cute stuff for lunches. (I can’t remember how much the grapes were, but it was less than $4 for the carton, and the cookies were, I think, $2.69) (Oh, and I live in California, where everything is more expensive, so you might find even better prices at your Trader Joes)

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I really liked how Thursday’s lunch turned out. I personally love this lunch box, but am limited on the shapes of sandwiches that will fit in it because it’s so narrow. However, elephant sandwiches fit splendidly. :o) (By the by, this is the first box I will be doing an in depth informational post on, so be ready for that coming in the next few days) The elephant sandwiches were PB&J again, and they got more apple, this time with a flower apple on top, flower cucumbers, and fresh blackberries. Delaney has decided she doesn’t like cucumbers, but she’s going through a picky phase, so I thought she might eat them if they were in flower shapes. However, I was wrong. I’m still going to try to sneak one or two slices in every so often in an effort to get her to eat them. Tatem, however, loves cucumbers and asked for there to be more in her lunch next time. :o)

One of the reasons I love this box so much is because it comes with a small top layer. It’s supposed to be for chopsticks, but I find it’s perfect for small cookies and other treats. I took the opportunity to spell out a simple word for each girl. (The words are completely random. They were just the first words I could make out of the letters I happened to grab. This was Delaney’s. Tatem’s said jump)

A note about the apples. As you probably surmised, the girls aren’t getting a whole apple in their lunch each day. I can get about a quarter of the apple to fit, using one half each time I make lunches. So, I save the other half in a baggie in the fridge and use it in a later lunch. A lot of people have issues with browning, but I haven’t really had any problems. I squeeze all the air out of the baggie and it sits fine in the fridge. When I go to use the rest of the apple, I may have to cut a thin slice off the cut side and discard it, but it’s not much. As far as the apples browning while in the girls lunches, I’ve asked and they say they’re not brown when they go to eat, so… However, I have hear that Ball’s Fruit-Fresh is great at combating that if you have that issue.

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And, lastly, we have Friday’s lunch. I took a break from sandwiches and gave them turkey dogs instead. Before I started assembling the lunches, I took 3 dogs out of the fridge, sliced them, and then pan fried them in a small amount of butter. Once they cooled, I divvied them up in the lunch boxes. I gave the girls each an animal fork so they can dip their hot dogs in the ketchup, which is in the little panda container. I picked up some mini pitas, so sliced those up and put them in too in the top tier. The bottom tier has sliced grape tomatoes, fresh raspberries and Gummy Tummies. (The Gummy Tummies are penguins, btw, in case you can’t tell in the photo) :o)  The pitas and tomatoes also came from Trader Joes. I told you they’re great for lunch stuff!. :o)

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4 responses to “Adventures in Bento: The First Week of School Aug 25-29, 2014

  1. Jen L. says:

    Your lunches look great!

    So I need to know what size and where did you get the green Bento box. And did I see an similar one in orange on another post? It looks like a perfect size for my kids. I got one on Amazon not long ago and was shocked at how tiny it is. I’ll still use it once I get a band made to keep it shut.

    • knittingdodo says:

      Thanks, Jen! I got the green box on Amazon and they’re really rather small. I thought they would be way too small for my girls’ lunches, but I’ve never run into a day where I cannot fit enough food in them. In fact, my 6 year old told me yesterday that she didn’t finish all her food because she got full. However, I could never use these for my own lunches. :o)

      Oh, and I had my mom make bands for them because the boxes didn’t come with it. She just took some elastic and a pretty button and sewed them together. Voila!

  2. Jen L. says:

    Thanks! Funny thing is that it looks exactly like the one I ordered in blue! Amazon listed it as a 2 tier but I received a 3 tier instead. It will work for my 9 yr old and his growing appetite. I’ve placed an order for some bands…with my mom as well! Love this because as a sewer she has plenty of elastic and buttons. She even found some pumpkin buttons for Halloween. I even talked her into making some napkins so I no longer need to send paper ones. At this rate, she may lend me her machine and tell me to get busy!

    Again, I enjoyed reading all your post and look forward to seeing more!

    • knittingdodo says:

      Mom are great, aren’t they? I don’t sew, so she’s always the one I go to when sewing is needed. However, I knit and she doesn’t, so it works the other way round too. ;o)

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