Monthly Archives: July 2011

Days Off



Right now the only bentos I’m doing are really for Emma, since she is the only one who HAS to bring lunch, but I was off of work last Thursday and Friday so I made a couple of wannabe bentos for the other kids.

I’m going through a clean-the-pantry type of thing right now, so I just tossed a bunch of things together: fruit skewers with grapes and cantaloupe stars, bowtie pasta, turkey bacon hearts, sautéed squash stars and Colby cheese cubes.

The turkey bacon hearts are probably my favorite because they were a happy accident; I cut the ends of a pound of bacon to oven fry and put in with the pasta, but they were cute enough to stand on their own, so they did! And the kids loved them.


After an afternoon of swimming, Saturday night we came home and the kids were asking for Lunchables. I don’t buy those for a variety of reasons so I made my own.

This is really a pretty straightforward bento: Ritz crackers, deli ham, cracker cuts, one Colby lamb, broccoli trees, quartered carrot stick logs, star-shaped pasta with melted mozzarella and vanilla wafers with Nutella between them.

To add a little special touch, I wanted to put a Bible verse on a little paper and put it in the container, but the only Bible I could find was my huge family Bible at the time and I just wanted to get it over with so we could play Family Game Night on the Wii, so they just ended up with “Jaiden/Jaylen/Jenna had a little lamb …” on a sliver of paper taped to a paper straw (I cut one into thirds). My oldest, who is nine, said, “‘Jaiden had a little lamb?’ Really?” and laughed. But, you know, I thought it was adorable. They adore the paper straws, though, and went into the drawer to get one each to drink their milk. lol.

They were also a little bewildered at the lamb’s eye, which I poked out with a pen. He was precious, though.

I will say this: making bento lunches is difficult, especially times three or four. I did see some bento boxes in the new Pottery Barn Kids catalog and want to order them at some point, perhaps, but at $14 a pop I’m not sure when that will be. We might stick with the divided plastic containers for a bit.


Bento for Mommy



On Wednesdays and days when money is tight, I usually try to bring my lunch to save time and funds (Wednesdays are our production days at the paper).

Really and truly, money being tight has been nice in some ways. It forces creativity in meal planning; I’ve tried a lot of different ideas.

Today was one of those days.

I cubed pork loin, like I did for Emma, quartered a couple of slices of provolone, added some of the grape tomatoes our next door neighbor grew and made a sandwich with wheat Deli Thins, cream cheese, dill and sliced cucumber. It was SO good that I’m making it again for dinner!

You can see that I cut a star shape out (and flipped it over, cream cheese side up). What can I say? Even mommies like pretty lunches.

Squares and butterflies



Today’s lunch was a rush job; usually I like to make it the night before (or with the case of yesterday’s lunch, an entire day and a half before), but last night I was feeling the stepmom blues in addition to being engrossed by the Jaycee Dugard tell-all, so this morning I had to put something together quickly while the kids got ready.

Today, apparently, I felt drab? Because the lunch looks boring, all orange and tan, but I know it will taste good. She has cubes of both cheddar cheese and a spice-rubbed pork loin left over from Monday’s dinner, cantaloupe butterflies (and a star), cinnamon toaster squares and her beloved Trix yogurt in the middle.

I hope she eats a majority of her food today; yesterday the PB&J roll-ups ALL came back and she told me that she doesn’t like peanuts or peanut butter, which is not true. She goes back to her mother today, so no kid lunch again until Monday.

Day two.



Day two: PB&J roll-ups, carrot sticks, broccoli and cheese shapes. We have provolone crosses and a church and a Colby bible and cross. She goes to a private, religious school, so this totally fits.

I want to get the food markers so I can write on her book; we’re teaching her (and her stepsister) to read.

And in the process of this lunch (for tomorrow) I realized I forgot to send dip for today’s lunch (it’s 7:30 am), so the broccoli & carrots might come back. We’ll see.

My first attempt



I’ve heard about Bento-style lunches for years and, thanks to adorable images on Pinterest and a desire to eat better spurred by watching Food Inc., I’m wanting to jump on the bandwagon.

My stepdaughter, Emma, has to bring lunch every single day, so packing hers is nothing new. Coming up with ideas is somewhat of a challenge, so I’m hoping this will help.

My other three kids – Jaiden, Jaylen & Jenna – have the option of buying lunch or bringing it (they go to a public school; Emma does not). That’s all fine and good, it saves me time, but is saving time really worth it? School lunch is now $1.75 times three, so $26.25 per week, and the food is not really worth it: it’s not really healthy for them and, let’s get real, it’s not very tasty most times. So I think this year all four will bring lunch and the three in public school will have the option to buy when they really like something on the menu.

Today I bought groceries, including some divided Ziploc containers and cookie cutters. I will have to build up to the real deal since summer childcare is, literally, 3/4 of my paycheck (seriously). But! I just made Em the cutest little lunch for tomorrow, which is pictured above.

My first almost-a-bento is Ritz crackers and star-shaped cheddar cheese, broccoli, carrots, black seedless grapes, a gummy worm kiss/heart and animal cracker style cookies that are letters and numbers (we just have letters and they, obviously, spell her name). Adorable!