The weather is starting to give us some cool days (and morning) and school has started for the children. It has going on for about a month for the Cork household. You would think that by now we would have a smooth pattern established…and you would be wrong. School started for us at the beginning of August. A week later my husband had to have surgery that had him in a sling and unable to drive for two weeks. Last year my mother was helping us out by picking up the Babydoll from school a couple days a week. This year she has been unable to do so thus far. So I have been doing drop off and pick up for the Babydoll, going to work, and running all errands for the family. My husband just received the okay from his surgeon to begin driving and getting around on his own, so now he will be able to help out.
The one thing that we have been able to master smoothly is lunch. My Babydoll has a few digestive issues that keep her from eating everything. At the same time, the things that she likes to eat are not readily available from school lunch. It took me two years of wondering why my baby was so hungry every time I picked her up from school. That lightbulb moment actually occurred when I was able to have lunch with her when she was in Pre-K4 (My Babydoll started out in Private School when she was three years old and they ate in the classroom that year. The next year she began eating in the cafeteria and I was able to have lunch with her at that time.). I started packing her lunch for her after that. But lunch was always the same thing: a slice of ham, some fruit (or fruit rol-up), Cheez-its, maybe a cookie, and a juice box. To my mind it seemed so predictable and unexciting. I love to cook guys and this is what I was giving my kid for lunch EVERY day. UGH! Kindergarten, she started asking for a Lunchable on occasion. She was getting the same thing that I was packing for her, it was just coming in a prettier package. Really…I’m going to pay the same amount for 1 Lunchable that I would spend on half pound of ham. I don’t think so. Well let’s just say that although I didn’t do it very often, I would break down every now and then (especially when they were on sale and I could get them for under $1.50. Last year I decided that there had to be a way to create a Lunchable and make it a little healthier. Maybe I could include some of the things that I prepare at home that I know that she loves. I didn’t have the pretty package but I was able to put everything in snack-sized Ziploc bags and things were looking up. This year there was a request for a lunch bag that was seen on television. I checked out the item online and gasped at the price for a lunch bag. It was advertised as getting two for $19.99 plus s/h. Closer inspection revealed that s/h for each bag plus the special, free gift was another $25. Do I have “STUPID” tattoo on my forehead? NOPE…I’m not buying it. I started researching (like I always do) to find something comparable or better. That’s when I stumbled upon Bento Boxes.
Yes people Bento Boxes!!!! Where have I been? Why hasn’t someone told me about them? It was a Lunchable the way that I had been longing to do it. I have now become a cookie cutter, small storage container, condiment container, silicone muffin cup, juice container buying diva. I’ve always been one to buy accessories; whether it is in the form of jewelry, cooking utensils, office supplies, or shoes. I now have a new accessory to purchase – lunch box accessories. But now I’m able to fix the Babydoll awesome lunches like nachos and cheese, and ham and crackers with all the fixings, cute sandwiches cut into fabulous shapes and so much more. I’m able to add more fruit and veggies (which my kid actually likes to eat…yes she will order the apple slices instead of fries at Mickey D’s) and she is also now eating all of lunch (even if she has to finish it in the car on the way home because lunch was cut short in school).
Here’s one of the first lunches that I packed early in the year. I’ve since become a little better at turning slices of ham into flowers and I’ve found some really cool “boxes” to pack lunch in.
With this type of packaging I’m not using so many plastic bags for packing food and everything pops into the dishwasher (I finally got a new one, but that’s a whole blog by itself) for clean up.
I understand that there are stores just for Bento box supplies, unfortunately I have not found one in my city although I have made stops to a couple of the International Grocery stores and looked in the non-food areas but found nothing. If I run across an online store I’m going to be in trouble. I’ve been hitting up every craft store I can to try to find square silicone muffin cups and larger cookie cutters (not the gigantor ones, just large enough to cut my pretty flower with).
I would be a terrible person if I did not tell you about this cool blog that is completely full of pictures of kids Bento lunches and content ideas. You guys have got to check out http://wendolonia.com/bentoboxgallery/ if you have children in school and you prepare lunch for them. Here are a couple of photos of a couple of the lunches that I’ve made so far. When I come up with something really spectacular I will show more pictures if I can remember to snap a photo. My boxes aren’t as beautiful as Wendy but I now have a new lunch packing goal to aspire to.