Making, writing about and posting photos of bento box lunches is all the rage in the mommy food blog community. Blogger after blogger posts their children’s school lunches in cute compartmentalized boxes with creative sandwiches cut into flowers, butterflies, robots, etc, hard boiled eggs molded into different shapes, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other cute little treats. To be honest, I don’t know how these moms manage to put together such elaborate lunches, and then how the lunches don’t fall apart as they get jostled in a school bag. Then there are all the supplies you need to create these works of art, which don’t stop at the compartmentalized boxes. There are the egg molds, sandwich shape cutters, and various silicone cups to fill with berries, crackers, dip or whatever you want and further compartmentalize the compartments. This is all enough to make a mom’s head spin, especially if she’s a newbie at the whole packed lunch thing.
use these to mold your hard boiled eggs
cut sandwiches into cute shapes
put it all in a whimsical lunch box
good enough to eat
Having been a stay at home mom since my little ones were born, I have not had to worry about packing any kinds of lunches, let alone getting creative with sandwich shapes and such. But now that I am preparing to go back to work and putting the kiddos into daycare, I need to come up with some kind of solution to the picky eating and make it portable. Don’t get me wrong. There is no way I’ll be able to make anything that will come close to what the bento box heavyweights create but I can learn some lessons from them. What I’ve gathered so far is that bento box lunches should be visually appealing and offer some variety. Beyond that I think you can go as crazy or simple as you want. You can make sandwiches look like cats or offer up small portions of different items in pretty little cups placed in a lunch box. Given that most kids eat a few bites of this and a few bites of that, I think the bento box approach to lunch makes sense (as long as you’re not losing precious sleep trying to arrange strawberry slices into a rosette). For inspiration check out this slide show from parenting.com: http://www.parenting.com/gallery/bento-lunch-boxes
The kiddos started daycare today, so I have spent the past few days getting together materials to make their lunches. I found some divided lunch boxes by Rubbermaid and even went the extra step of buying some silicone baking cups. Then it occurred to me that the silicone cups might not make it back home either because Little Missy might think they are too cute to put back in the lunch box or they might get accidentally tossed. So I decided to start out with just regular paper baking cups. Those will only go in Little Missy’s lunches. I don’t trust the Little Fella to not try to eat the cups if I put them in his lunches. Here are the two lunches I came up with for the kiddos for their first day of daycare.
Little Missy got a flatbread turkey and cheese sandwich with cherry tomato halves and pretzels. There was also a cheese stick and a cereal bar. She ended up eating the tomatoes, pretzels and cheese, and nibbling on the sandwich.
The Little Fella got the same sandwich with sliced kiwi fruit. He ate most of his lunch. I am beginning to think he eats more than his big sister.