Thursday, January 2, 2014

Yummy Yummy Yummy: Seven Bento Box Ideas

"Yummy Yummy Yummy / I got love in my tummy"

Everyone who has been to my house is familiar with my Planning Board, which lays out our family menu for four weeks, along with the corresponding grocery lists for the current week. On grocery day, I simply take a photo of the lists and off I go! 

I know some of you, like my beloved sisterfriend Betsy, think I am a little crazy for going into so much detail, but this level of mega-anal-retentive organization helps me keep a calm, orderly, healthy-eating household. 

I feel calm just looking at this photo. Ommm... nom nom...
When Diana started full-day kindergarten last September, I had to add a lunch feature to the menus. Her favorite lunches tend to be sandwiches like Nutella and banana or SPAMwich, but I try to make it more complete by building a bento box around it, with veggies or fruit. A lot of my Facebook food porn shots are of the bentos I make, and they've become quite popular. Popular enough, in fact, that I've been asked how I do it.

So! I have a list of main lunches I know Diana will eat (A) that I pair with different veggies and fruits she likes (B). If your kids' school is like ours, then snack is separate from lunch, so the snack (C) is a different list. Still, when I have it all written down, packing is (say it with me) easy as ABC. 

Here are seven favorite bento box lunches to give you ideas for back-to-school next week. The snacks aren't pictured, but listed for reference.

A: Quorn brand chik'n nuggets w/ ketchup (It's Meatless Monday!)
B: sweet red peppers, cucumber cherry blossoms, nectarines
C: cream custard bun & dried blueberries
A: salame, gouda cheese, crackers (Who needs Lunchables?)
B: grape tomatoes, olives, cucumbers
C: applesauce turnovers
A: SPAM hearts and rice
B: sliced Roma tomatoes, cucumber cherry blossoms, sweet red peppers, nori seaweed
C: squeeze yogurt & brownie oat bar   
A: whole wheat mini-bagel w/ cream cheese & roast beef
B: carrots, pears, grape tomatoes
C: squeeze yogurt, almonds, dried blueberries 
A: pig in a blanket (hotdogs wrapped in crescent roll) w/ ketchup
B: cucumbers, three colors/shapes of sweet peppers
C: squeeze yogurt & strawberry breakfast bar
A: soba noodles w/ tsuyu sauce
B: grape tomatoes, edamame beans, carrots
C: squeeze yogurt, almonds, dried blueberries 
A: Nutella and banana kitty-shaped sandwich & flower-shaped bites
B: grape tomatoes, carrots, clementines
C: squeeze yogurt & cherry-pomegranate toaster pastry 

"But how do you make such cute food, Cookie?" Behold:
Animal-shaped sandwich cutters ordered online
Silicon cups, tiny bottles, egg/rice molds, steel veggie cutters from local Asian stores

Now, go forth and make cute, yummy lunches for your kids. May the Force be with you.

Yummy Yummy Yummy by Ohio Express 

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