Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting better...

...at packing bento lunches, I think.  For Timothy's lunch tomorrow, we're trying the Mickey Mouse box again.  I asked his teachers how he did with it the first time.  They said it was easy getting into it, but trying to figure out how to put it back together wasn't easy.  I knew that Timothy would have some issues putting it back together, because it is rather finicky about how it wants to fit.  However, I think with time and practice, he'll remember how to put it together, so his teachers can help him.  At least, that's my hope.

Anyway, here's his lunch for tomorrow...

Top Box - 1/2 clementine with raisins, goldfish crackers, pb&j roll ups
Bottom Box - carrots and celery with ranch in the snowman cup, string cheese, pretzel grids, 1/2 clementine

I say I'm getting better at packing bento lunches because I'm starting to realize all the things that I can make or use to fill up the box to keep it from shifting and making a mess.  Now, bentos aren't about how much you can stuff in a box.  It's about WHAT you put into the box.  Is it healthy?  Yummy?  Fun to eat?  All of these things rank right up there on the healthy, yummy and fun lists for Timothy.  We're trying celery with ranch tomorrow.  Celery with pb hasn't been a hit yet, although I've enjoyed eating what he doesn't finish.  :)

Also, I think bentos are about having a compact meal without a lot of leftovers.  I usually end up sending separate containers of things for Timothy to eat for lunch, but I think all he's going to need for tomorrow is this box, a juice cup and he'll be set.  That's nice to know.  Less to wash tomorrow evening! 


***Update Dec. 1 - I added this bento lunch to Bentolunch.com's  What's for lunch Wednesday blog.  Shannon herself does some amazing bentos!  Check out all the fun bentos from other families! :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Goodbyn lunches

I recently ordered a Goodbyn lunch box for Timothy.  They're a really neat idea for keeping items in your lunch separate.  Great for bento style lunches.  Check them out!  Goodbyn Lunchboxes

At the blog The Goodbyn Girls, they show how they use Goodbyn boxes for lunches.  I've gotten so many good ideas of what to pack for Timothy's lunches so he doesn't get bored with the same old thing.  Of course, he'd eat pb&j with tortilla chips every day, so getting him to try something different is much easier when it's packaged in a fun way.  Enter bento style lunches and the Goodbyn box.

The Goodbyn Girls are holding a giveaway for a Goodbyn box.  I had to make a fun bento lunch and include the 3 C's - Cucumber, Carrots and Cheese.  I think I got those easily and added 4 C's to it - Chicken and Chocolate Chip Cookies.  :)

Timothy's lunch tomorrow consists of:
Apple and Eve juice
Drinkable yogurt
2 Chicken nuggets with BBQ sauce underneath
Mac and Cheese
Carrots and Christmas tree shaped Cucumber with Ranch dressing
2 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Goodbyn Girls - I got 7 C's in my lunch!!!  Does that count extra?!  :)


Muffin Tin Monday

It' Muffin Tin Monday over at Muffin Tin Mom and there's no theme this week, so our theme is "Fix whatever you can that the kids will eat so they'll take good naps this afternoon." Good theme, no?  XD

Top Row L to R - 'ants on a log', mac and cheese, cucumber and carrot with ranch
Botto Row L to R - clementine, more mac and cheese with octodog,
bread and strawberry yogurt spread roll up

I've just recently started introducing celery to my kids.  What better way than with peanut butter?!  It's been mildly successful  -  I'll keep trying!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rice Mold Success!

I purchased some rice molds a few weeks ago, having no prior experience using them but having some knowledge of how to use them.  I bought what I thought were single heart, star and bear shapes.  However, they are joined together.  No biggie...

Anyway, so I steamed some sushi rice (Nishiki) tonight in my steamer and covered the top because I had read that sushi rice needs to steam for about 10 minutes after it's done.  The lid on my steamer has holes in it, so I just covered it with a kitchen towel.  Worked great.

I made these molded pieces of rice for my oldest son, who LOVES rice.  I gave my little guy some rice on his plate because he's not been a huge fan of rice in the past.  Next time, I'll be sure to make him a molded rice of his own because he loved the rice!

Here's how my first attempt turned out...

Not too bad for my first attempt with no directions!  Well, there were directions on the packaging, but they were in Japanese.  That doesn't help me out any.  They're a little rough around the edges because I wasn't careful how I was filling the molds.  I'll be more careful next time.  The face of the bear is made with cucumber and carrot.

Here's what Timothy thought of them:

He had no problem eating them.   As a matter of fact...

He managed to shove them in.  He loved them!

I'm so glad that he likes them and I'm glad I bought the molds.  I hesitated, because I thought it would be a lot of trouble.  But it's no trouble at all, if you don't mind dealing with sticky rice.  He told me he'd like to have one in his lunch this week at school.  We'll see what his teachers think about him bringing shaped rice to school!

I'll post soon about making shaped eggs.  Those are as adorable as these!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday - Thanksgiving

It's Muffin Tin Monday and the theme is Thanksgiving.  We have much to be thankful for in our home:  Daddy got to come home from Afghanistan for R&R these last 2 weeks.  He has to go back today, so I'm surprised I even got it together enough to make a MTM.  However, it did provide about 30 minutes of thinking about something else.  :)

I went with foods that they may have had at the first Thanksgiving.  Some of it is a stretch, I know, but work with me.  I figure berries and apples, veggies, and 'turkey' were there.  Turkey shaped PB&J, pumpkin pie and Ranch dressing...probably not.  XD

From L to R - top row:  Apple shaped apples and blackberries, popcorn,
pumpkin shaped cucumbers and carrot sticks

bottom row:  pumpkin pie with cool whip, turkey shaped pb&j, ranch dressing cup

Hope everyone has a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bento Lunch in a new fun box!

We were in Orlando, FL over the weekend and I was looking EVERYWHERE for ANYTHING pertaining to Bento-ing.  (is that a word?)  We went to Colonial Ave where I knew a few oriental/asian markets were and prayed they had something.  The first one was so cluttered, it was hard to find anything.  However, the pastry counter was divine!  There were things there I'd never seen.  If I hadn't had my 3 year old with me, I probably would have started asking questions and purchased something.  Since pastries weren't exactly on my list, I declined.

The second store I went into, I immediately found out they spoke English.  This helped me out a lot because I felt more comfortable asking if they had any supplies.  I ended up buying 2 kinds of picks (short and long), a heart and star shaped egg mold (which I've already used and LOVE), some rice molds and some sauce containers.  The sauce containers are really small.  I was hoping to be able to use them for Ranch dressing, but I can't even get the dressing in them.  We'll see if I come up with some other use for them.

The third store I went into had a few things, but I heard the cashier being rude and hateful to a customer, so I left. 

Then we ended up at the Florida Mall where there is a Disney store.  On a whim, I asked my dear, dear husband (who had been watching the kids for me all this long while) could we go in and look.  I'd seen Disney character plates, etc at the dollar store, so I was hoping that there would be better quality things in the store.  Was I excited to see that they had not only plates, cups, silverware and sippy cups...they had BENTO boxes!!!  So fun!  And all the 'kitchenware' stuff like that was 3 for $12!!!  Even better!!!!

I ended up purchasing 2 boxes and a package of 2 straws for my little guys to use at home.  One box has Mickey Mouse on it and the other has the aliens from Toy Story 3.  The Mickey one is a 2 tiered box with a clear lid.  The top tier has a divider in it.  The bottom tier is covered.  I'd say the whole thing is about 5-6 inches tall.  Muffin cups fit perfectly in the bottom with the lid on.

The Toy Story one is a round one tier with 2 dividers.  The dividers come out, so you could use both of them, or just one or none at all.  The top for this one is clear as well.  There's no picture for this one yet.  When I send it to school with Timothy, I'll post pictures then.  :)

I had Timothy practice with the Mickey one the other day.  I wanted to see how easily he could get into it and put it back together after lunch.  He's 3, you know, and I don't want to send something to school that would require a lot of extra help from his teachers.  Getting into the box was OK, but he'll need help closing it if it's going to fit back into his lunch box.  We'll see if it ellicits any response from his teachers.

Enough talking about the box.  Let's see what Timothy will be having for lunch tomorrow!

He asked for meat and cheese roll ups, which usually consist of my taking a small tortilla, spreading it with some flavored cream cheese, adding the meat and cheese, rolling it up, cutting it in half and spearing it with a pick.  First of all, I didn't feel like doing all of that.  Secondly, I know he pulls the tortilla apart and just eats the meat and cheese.  So I saved us both some time and did bologna rolls and string cheese on the new ocean picks I got over the weekend.  He also requested pretzels, so those are in a pumpkin baking cup.  In the top are shredded carrots with leaf shaped cucumber on top.  The other side has the requested grapes with blackberries and heart shaped strawberries. 

Here is his whole lunch for tomorrow.  His Mickey bento box, an Apple and Eve juice box we got for FREE at Sam's yesterday, a drinkable yogurt, Sassy sauce container with ranch dressing and Fruit Loops on a stick.  That's just for fun.  I'm sure the fruit loops will be the first thing eaten.  :)


Monday, November 1, 2010

Bento Lunches

I don't know about you, but growing up, the biggest thing about going back to school was what kind of lunch box you would have.  My 5th grade year, Strawberry Shortcake was all the rage.  I even had a huge strawberry that I kept my characters in.  I think my mom still has it in a closet somewhere.  That year, I had a metal strawberry shortcake lunch box.  It was small and had 2 handles, much like a picnic basket.  It was the cutest thing.

In 6th grade, I believe I had a fabric lunchbox with a butterfly on the outside and it came with its own thermos.  Why any kid would want a thermos is beyond me.  I can't count on one hand how many times I took soup or some other hot food to school in that thermos.  Heck, I can't even remember how many times I actually carried the crazy thing for lunch. 

Since Timothy has started school, I've been making his lunch 2 days a week.  The first few days were interesting to say the least.  I don't remember what I sent.  I've slept since then.  I do remember packing WAY too much food, and I'm sure a lot of it was thrown away.  I've gotten better about how much I send because I've been paying better attention to WHAT he eats and HOW MUCH of it he eats.  Duh.

I've also recently discovered Bento lunches.  This is a Japanese way of packing a meal in a compact box but it has everything in it.  A well balanced meal in a small package.  THIS is what I needed to be able to pack Timothy's lunches for school.  Small containers with very concise foods in them.  Not too much fluff or stuff - just what he'll eat and package it in an entertaining way.

Now, by no means am I doing full blown Bento lunches yet.  My bento container for Timothy is a $1 sandwich container from WalMart.  In it, I use silicone muffin cups to separate things like cheese or veggies from everything else.  This is the idea behind Bento meals. I'll post some links later so you can see how they're SUPPOSED to look.  Plus, we're not of Asian descent and we don't eat the things that are typically in a Japanese Bento meal.  But that's the beauty of this - you make it your own and pack it how you want to.

Needless to say, I have had a ball doing Timothy's lunches since I discovered Bento.  I've been able to think of new things to send with him, of course, after doing a trial run at home.  I don't want to send something with him that he won't eat.  I don't want him to be hungry and I don't want it wasted either.

Usually his lunches consist of some sort of protein (ham or bologna usually), cheese, crackers or a tortilla roll up, fruit and veggies, and a sweet thrown in.  That covers all the bases.  And he usually eats most, if not all, of it.  I think by the time lunch rolls around, he's so hungry, he'd eat the crayons off the floor.

I found some great little slider rolls at the commissary this weekend and thought that I'd make him a bologna and cheese sammy with them.  I added some raisins with white chocolate chips, some carrots an cucumber with ranch dressing and some wheat thins.  I spruced up the sammy, too. 

What do you think?

My first attempt at making a face.  I decided not to go too crazy with it because I'm NOT an artist and I wanted Timothy to know what it was.  The mouth was actually a wrinkle in the bun itself, so I went with it.  The shiny stuff over the veggies is plastic wrap.  I'm hoping to keep the dressing inside the cup and not get it everywhere.  We'll see how it goes.  There are sauce containers for Bento boxes that you can purchase, but I don't know enough about them to know exactly what to get yet.  Sooo...I'll try wrapping with plastic wrap.  If that doesn't work, I'll come up with something else.

Timothy will also have a drinkable yogurt and some applesauce to eat tomorrow.  He'll be a happy boy!!

Here are some links to blogs where these amazing moms make bento lunches for their kids on a daily basis!  Check them out!

BentoLunch - This is Shannon in Dallas.  She makes wonderful bentos!

Another Lunch - This is Melissa - she's a mom of 4 who somehow finds time to make bentos for her kids!

A Pocket Full of Buttons - This is Stephanie - she's a military wife like me and loves making bentos for her entire family!

I hope you'll be inspired to try making bentos for your sweet family.  I can't wait to make them for both Timothy and Asher!