Monday, April 26, 2010

Hey-o, Bento!

A couple of weeks ago a conversation among Twitter friends popped up about these “Bento” lunches (See what you’re missing on Twitter???).  At the very basic level, a Bento lunch is a traditional Japanese boxed lunch.  There’s a bunch of other elements to it, but that should perk up your ears enough. Last summer I decided to change my approach when it came to my kids’ lunches, so I had already done a lot of research on it.  If any of the following apply to you or your children, this post might be for you.

  1. Are your kids picky eaters?
  2. Do you want your kids to eat healthy lunches?
  3. Are you or your children “visual” learners?
  4. Would you like to do your part for the environment?
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This group of photos is what I do NOT do.  I’m not cool enough.  Nor am I a good enough mom. Nor would my kids ever eat this.

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I’m not even cool enough to own an actual Bento lunchbox.  I went to Wal-Mart and bought these Ziploc containers.  There’s two in a package for about $2-3.00.

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Let’s try not to remember the Bentos that I just showed you.  Here is my interpretation of a healthy and appealing lunch for my kiddos.

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To be honest, last week was a little bit of a boring palette, but I wanted to show you what it can look like. I may have sacrificed some aesthetics, but I know what my kids like—or don’t like as the case may be. 

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Case in point?  They will only eat cheese sticks if they’re diced up; they’ll only eat ham if it’s wrapped in a tortilla shell; they only like cheese on a pizza if it’s cold. 

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Just for fun, here’s what their lunch looks like on Fridays.  We’re talkin’ bottom of the barrel in the pantry, people!  That was the last slice of bread.  It had to last!

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In case you’re wondering, I don’t forget a drink.  It just doesn’t fit into the container.  I chose a lunch bag that fits the Ziploc boxes perfectly. 

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I thought I’d include a couple of sites that I referred to OFTEN when I first got started. 

What’s for Lunch at Our House is a favorite read.  I’m still too afraid to tackle her muffin recipes, but I plan on it…

To the Moon and Back has a daughter with severe food allergies, and she includes near daily pictures of the lunches she packs for her.  I’m obsessed!

Lastly, if you type in “Bento lunch” or “kid lunch” at Flickr, you’ll find a ton of pictures and groups.  I use it often when I’m in a slump.

So there you have it—my attempt at getting my kids to eat healthier lunches.  So far, I think it’s working beautifully! 

One more thing…my mom might get on here and make a comment about how picky her daughter is.  DON’T let her fool you.  I survive just fine on chocolate, chicken tenders, and toast, thank you very much.

49 comments:

Kim said...

My kids friends probably think they are strange. My Kindergartener has in her lunch for tomorrow: English Cucumber, yogurt, mozzarella stick and some cheese flavor mini rice cakes. :) My 11 yr old, ham on multigrain FlatOut bread, cucumber slices, cheese stick and mini rice cakes. Odd children.

Love your use of the cupcake liners, going to have to try that!

mrs. c said...

My daughter does Bento lunches for her daughter everyday. She does the coolest stuff and everyone on my grand daughter's class loves and wants her lunch! She uses veggies and rice and different dips and beans. they are both vegans.

Rachelle said...

We bento! We also do the lunches at home in the muffin tins... :) They love it !

Anonymous said...

Are the first ones (the ones you don't do) serious?!! Do some moms actually take/have the time to make those creations???? I would be like "lets take pictures of your lunch and then frame them on the wall since I took all this time on it" lol I love yours and it looks a lot like what my kids would eat. ;)
~Jennifer S. in Texas

Shannon said...

Thanks for adding my blog in your post!

We've just done the bento thing for so long that it's second nature, but I promise nothing on my blog is complicated. My mom would tell you all about my laziness in the kitchen!

With all the Earth Day stuff my daughter has been reading, it's also a good selling point for "green"!

Anderson said...

Love this post. And love that you "kept it real." Honestly, those first pics were gorgeous- but intimidating. Your more real-life approach made me think I could do this... TODAY! :) Thank you. Great idea.

Rachel and Jacob said...

if you have a Borders Books close by you can go there to not only get the Bento style lunch boxes but you can also buy "snack boxes" from "paperchase" its a super cute box with 3 smaller boxes stacked inside, i actually use them in my husbands lunch box, its not only good for the environment but has been good on my budget! http://www.paperchase.co.uk/p/469469/lunch-box-cameo-design.html

Astrid said...

We love doing bento lunches here! One easy way to dress up those sandwiches is to use cookie cutters and cut cute shapes out of the sandwiches. (I usually flatten the bread first with a rolling pin to make it easier to cut). My girls love having flower or heart shaped sandwiches.

Kate said...

What a great way to reduce baggies used too!

Jamie said...

I love this! We are definitely in a lunch time slump here. Thanks for the great ideas!

SILVIA said...

i love these..i dont have the time for fancy ones but yours are great and healthy too.thank's

My Loss/Their Gain said...

I love this idea...but have a question. Doesn't the food end up all mooshed together when the kiddos turn the boxes sideways and upside down, etc. in their bags?

Jennifer said...

These look so fun! I don't have kiddos yet but I want to make my own just by looking at these and checking out the other blogs you mention! I like all the little containers, sticks, and cookie cutters. ;)

Ann said...

I've been thinking about invisting in some Bento boxes but haven't wanted to spend the money. I can't believe I didn't think about ziploc containers! Thanks for the great idea!!!

Cindi said...

I love our bento box! I did a post back at the beginning of school on ours. Here's the post... http://cindis.blogspot.com/2009/09/moms-secret-weapon.html and here is one on mini ice packs for them... http://cindis.blogspot.com/2009/09/ice-ice-baby.html

Susan said...

Oh my goodness. I did several posts on this very same thing, so imagine my surprise. I think there are a select few of us left on this planet that are not buying into the crummy school lunches and picky eater scene anymore. Please visit my blog to see what I'm talkin about. Thank you for sharing this. I think I came across your blog through 3Bs Blog.

Jess said...

i have also seen the bento lunches....so crazy! love your approach...and i haven't seen the ziploc containers...i need to go check that out...thanks for keeping it real!!!

Mom Taxi Julie said...

I think the Bento lunches are really cool looking but I don't think my kids would eat them! (heck I wouldn't even eat that stuff I don't think!?!)

I like those zip lock containers, I haven't seen them before I'm going to look for them.

Rachel@MyPinkFlipFlops said...

I think I'll store this away for when my baby actually gets to go to school! Very cool!

Talk about picky eaters...I ate a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich everyday for YEARS. My mom couldn't convince me otherwise. I say I survived ok. :D

Carmen said...

My kids eat school lunch. I think your lunches are adorable. I will make sure my kids don't see this post. haha!

Heather L. said...

I've been a fan on Bento lunches but never wanted to spend the $$$ on the actual boxes - how smart of you to use those Ziploc containers! I am going to have to try this.

PS - does their food move around at all during the day? I can just picture it all piled together once they throw their lunchbox around. Also, what brand/style of lunchbox did you buy that fits so perfectly?

care-in said...

I was wondering the same question about their food dumping together. I love those containers, I haven't seen them yet. We do muffin tins. I too run out of lunch ideas, thanks for the websites.

Robin said...

This is such a fun idea. I have never even heard of this before. My kids will love it. Thanks!

Tracey Bower- Bower Studio said...

So funny because I've been obsession over this site and her bento type lunches: http://anotherlunch.blogspot.com/

I really want a Goodbyn, but don't want to spend the $$!

Jerri-Lea said...

I started packing my daughter's lunch the same way, mainly because she is slow and if it is all ready for her she can pick at it and hopefully get something into her in the 15-20 minutes they have to eat!

Beth@The Stories of A to Z said...

I love that you posted about this! I was hoping you would!

Barb said...

Oh Chris..I love you. Your such a great mom. I packed terrible PBJ lunches. Poor Boyd, good thing he loved PBJ. And you? Well you mentioned chocolate, chicken tenders, TOAST but you left out the three RADISHES! You turned out absolutely perfect. I think this is the best part of blog land. Helping each other with ideas to be the best moms you can. Although, I love veggies. Wish I had been introduced to them when I was very young. Cucumber sandwiches are great.

Your 1970's PBJ Mom

Amanda said...

I think you're a good mom, and your lunches are great! Your containers are probably better than actual bento boxes, because they seal better, and the food stays separate better. I'm not sure about your kids, but mine would swing and twirl their lunch boxes around, so a typical bento lunch would get really scrambled up!

Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

I love this! I've wanted to do bento boxes for awhile but I've never planned well enough. Have you ever read The World According To Eggface?

http://theworldaccordingtoeggface.blogspot.com/

She uses bento boxes daily. She posts really healthy low fat recipes and is crazy-obsessed with Bento boxes. Your post reminded me of her blog.

Thanks for having such an awesome blog! I love it!

K :) said...

Oh my goodness,I have spent a year trying to find an item that will fit into my girls' lunchbox and serve as a bento box. Thank you so much for the Ziploc idea. Now I think I'll head out to Walmart and pick up a couple!!!

Misty said...

Thanks so much for the Ziploc container idea. I bought the last set my wally world had yesterday. I looked all over for something like that at the beginning of the school year to no avail. I'd love to make my kids lunch each day, but I'm really NOT a morning person, so they eat the school lunch quite often. No pb&j anymore with classmates having peanut allergies.

To The Moon and Back said...

Chris, you are too sweet. Thank you for adding me to your blog post. I'm glad you found an alternative to the lock 'n lock that works for you. Good idea to keep in mind:)

Bec Shulba said...

you MUST follow this blog - she's amazing with her bentos....though it does mean you'll have to get yourself some food safe markers: http://wendolonia.com/blog/category/bentos/

Tiffany said...

I think urs was pretty darn kool. Made me wanna pack a lunch for my kidd-0, cause he gets a check on the 1st school day of each month.

Andrea said...

I love this. Thank you for sharing. I was just thinking this morning that I needed to switch it up. I was down to the bottom of the barrel this morning.

I can't wait to go shopping now.

maureen @ The Inglenook Decor said...

they all look adorable & those bento boxes are making me hungry

Gina said...

Genius. I am inspired anew!

Alison@howdoesshe said...

I'm impressed that's what you had at the bottom of your pantry!
Love doing this for my kidos! Thanks for helping me toss it up a little:)

Melanie said...

Such a cute idea. My 16 yr. old buys his lunch. You know that it's not cool to take a lunch in high school! LOL!

Sharon said...

I think you are doing a wonderful job! Never had heard of these before.

thekettrickfive said...

What a great idea!! Thanks! I am dreading my daughter buying lunch in first grade next year after watching Food Revolution and seeing what goes in to cafeteria lunches. She will think this is so cool!! Thanks!

Anne - Fiona and Twig said...

Okay, I am SO happy to have found you!

Girl, you are FUNNY.
And stylish, and you have really pretty pictures, and great content, and....I'm not a stalker, I promise!

I discovered you via Kristin at An Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, so nice to meet you!

Anne

Randi said...

I love those containers - I'll have to check for them at my store. Thanks for sharing the sites.

Anonymous said...

I bought my dd Laptoplunches bentos. I do not create all the cool stuff that I see on Flickr. The only time I go all out is during halloween. DD loves it. Her lunches are boring...PB&J, pretzels and two types of fruit. At least the fruit changes from time to time. I hope to continue with the bentos when she goes to 6th grade next year.

Iris T. said...

I buy my bento boxes from "ILoveObento.com" They have the best bento boxes and a lot of accessories that are hard to find in the midwest. My girls love the tiny soy sauce bottles. The links are good for people who are new to bento box lunches too.

Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

You were one of my top 10 referrers for this week! Thank you so much!! I've given you a big shout-out THANK YOU on my blog here:

http://www.houseofhepworths.com/2010/04/30/winner-features-and-thanks/

Thanks again!

Gracefully Vintage said...

YES- i have a 3 picky eaters -but one really bad one who is almost 8-
funny we all decorate-re-paint and fancy up items to make more appealing-but didnt occur to some of us (me) to do the same with food.
LOVE that idea.
karryann

ROLLERWRITER said...

I think the lunches look yummy. I bought an acutual bento box at Oriental Trading 20 years ago when my daughter, a very particular eater, was in school. Take a look at the Tiffin boxes at Target if you need to feed a high school football player or maybe for a pitchin or your own food for the day. Similar to bento but instead a set of stacked containers,

Melissa said...

Swing by my bento blog sometime! I'd love to have you! :)

http://anotherlunch.blogspot.com

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