Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bento Mania!

Bento Mania Strikes the NK Home

Lunch #1:
"Snowy Ants on a Log" (see below); kiwi and grapes; cloverleaf shaped cheese; popcorn

Lunch #2:
Salad with Carrot, Bell Pepper and Celery with Ranch dip; Unsweetened Applesauce; popcorn; Turkey Rolls with Cheese Stars (and crackers with the popcorn).
Lunch #3
Ham sandwich on whole wheat; kiwi and grapes; salad with ranch dip; popcorn

I got tired of little zip-close baggies. As clever as the snack size ones are, especially for parents of school-aged kids, I was always running out of the right size, and throwing out 6-8 of these per day is pretty shocking when you start to think about the financial and environmental impact.

As one school year ended and another began (a week later--we're in year-round schools here), I pondered my options for making lunchtime greener and, honestly, less boring for my Kidz. Mine are fairly picky, and the littlest one has no problem just not eating. She's not a child who'll eat when she gets hungry enough. She won't. She'll have a meltdown, but she won't eat. I was easily as sick of the lunches coming back to me barely touched as I was of wasting zip-close bags.

I'd heard about Bento Boxes from a few different folks. I did some googling (why does that still sound vaguely dirty to me?) and found Laptop Lunches, a website with everything you'd ever want to know about Bento luches done American style, including recipe ideas and a store. After much hemming and hawing, I finally ordered 3 for the Kidz. The ones I got were the new "2.0" style boxes that came with four inserts (two with lids) and a teeny tiny adorable little container with lid just perfect for dips and sauces. The sets also come with really good quality stainless steel flatware--no more plastic spoons for me (or those mornings when I nearly have a meltdown of my own because I ran out of spoons and forgot to buy more)!

They arrived and I love them. They're a good substantial size but still fit into my Kidz' standard lunch boxes, so I can slip in an ice pack if I want. You can also purchase insulated sleeves, but I'm cheap.

My youngest Kid was so excited about hers she took off to her room to play with it. It took some negotiation but I finally got her to agree to actually use it for her lunches. Once she accepted that it wasn't, in fact, a new home for her Calico Critters, she pulled a stool up to the counter and packed her lunch herself. My picky picky girl even came up with a new food for her Bento: "snow ants on a log" (see lunch #1, above)--celery, peanut butter, and yogurt-covered raisins. Yum.

The Laptop Lunch kits also come with a handy paperback guide to packing healthful and appealing lunches for your Kidz. I was pleased with how colorful and easy these lunch boxes are to use. Hopefully the fun won't wear off too soon and the Kidz will continue to enjoy healthy, whole-food inspired meals!

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