Making bento boxes really sparked a whole new trend in the house for a while.
Our entire view on food shifted to keeping in mind what would work well to put in the lunches the next day. Even the dog got compartmentalized food a few times. And here, my mom skipped trying to travel with a full awkward veggie tray by doing several individually packed veggie bags.
The same could be done with plastic bowls as the larger holder, of course, and would be good for long car rides with the kids, picnics, etc. Actually, those Glad salad bowls that come with a little pop-out salad dressing bowl would work perfect for them, too, but I didn’t see those until quite a while after Mom did these. Why buy specialized bowls when you can work with what you already have anyway? These are much cuter.
Somewhat last minute, we decided to start sending the kids’ lunches again and cutting out some possible trigger foods. Dairy and sugar are being mostly tossed out the window for a little while and while I don’t use much processed food anyway, it’s completely gone, too.
So when I realized first off that sandwiches weren’t going to cut it, bento boxes were my go-to plan. They’re extremely versatile, can be made as healthy as you want, and hopefully the occasional cuteness will keep the kids interested.
I don’t have actual bento boxes, but standard plastic bowls with lids worked just fine. They’re a bit on the large side but I think that can be adjusted as I get more used to how much food is enough vs. too much.
Because of the time pressure, the only “cuteness” in these boxes are the simple drawn on faces and the hamburger lookalikes. I’ve got Anna to thank for that one again. Mine are made with barbecue meatballs sliced in half and put back together with a slice of carrot and lettuce leaf to make them look like mini burgers. For some reason, I didn’t take a picture of one individually so you can see what it actually looks like, but they were a big hit.
What’s in the box?
- Boiled egg (edible markers were used and it was actually black the night before but melted into a blue by morning…..I squished each one slightly so two are round balls and the other is a triangle)
- Grapes (cutting them in half and mixing them up only took a couple extra minutes and was also a huge hit, so well worth it)
- Ants on a log
- Leftover rice from the night before (a light Spanish rice of sorts)
- Edamame on toothpicks (not a big hit….needed a bit more salt….probably won’t use again once the bag is gone)
- Hamburger lookalike meatballs
- Homemade fruit rollups (no sugar is needed….just toss some apples into the mix and it’s sweet enough…..not shown in the picture above, but can be seen in the bottom of this one)
So uh, the guy above had a little accident. I had partially prepared them the night before and stacked them in the fridge without lids. One bowl shifted so that it ended up resting in this guy’s face overnight. Oops!
I ran into a few other issues but nothing too major. I forgot the girls switched to the lunch bags from Subway last year instead of the old bags I remembered from before. The bowls I chose didn’t quite fit easily, so we had to do some squishing. B pointed this out almost immediately in her least offensive tone….”Are you really going to send those to school with us?” I was afraid she was talking about the food, but it was really just the logistics of getting them in the bags that worried her.
Their excitement was less than peak before they left for school which really threw me off because they’ve been begging to take their lunches again for a while. They weren’t really sure what to think of the sheer lack of sandwiches, I don’t think, but when they got home from school, it was a whole ‘nother story. “I’m so happy we get to take something other than sandwiches,” L told me first thing and N couldn’t stop talking about what the other kids wanted from her box, but she couldn’t/wouldn’t share. Definitely a success and now they’re full of a huge stream of ideas of things they’d love to take. :D