Saturday, July 24, 2010

the bento phenomenom

when ella was in kindergarten i packed her lunch nearly every single day (not grilled cheese day…the girl loves her grilled cheese). but after baby #4 arrived the packed lunches were few and far between. this coming school year i will have two kids in elementary school, so i am determined to pack their lunches as often as i can. i want to save money, and also, i want to control what they eat a little bit. when i pack their lunch i know that they will eat it, because i pack foods i know are good for them, and that i know they like. at school they pass over foods that they don’t like, and do not end up with a balanced meal on their tray.

i want to find more interesting things to pack for their lunches this year…not just your usual peanut butter & jelly and a banana. so i have been spending some time online looking for ways to spruce up our lunches, and i have been reading about this “bento” phenomenon that is gaining popularity in the u.s. in japan mothers have been packing bento lunches for their children for years, they design these elaborate lunches that are healthy, and aesthetically pleasing at the same time. google the word bento, you will see what i mean! these women are making rice balls shaped like animals, veggies that look like flowers, and more. there are blogs all over the internet documenting these creative lunches. i like the idea of making my children’s lunch “cute” in an effort to get them to try new foods, or to be excited about eating good food. here is a picture of my first attempt at making “bento” lunches for my three kids.
not quite as fancy as those you see on the internet, but they got a kick out of them. i used baking accessories to spruce up the lunch. i have to admit though, that even a pirate flag was not enough to convince sam to try the celery, but i will keep trying and maybe someday he will decide to take a nibble. i doubt they will get fancy lunches every day…but they will be a nice special treat for them. another idea I had was to stick sweet notes in their lunches. i’ve done this in the past for ella occasionally, and she loves the surprise.

i think what i like best about these bento lunches is that they are environmentally friendly. that is my major goal this year, is to pack lunches that produce very little waste. ella’s school is having a fundraiser right now in conjunction with easy lunchboxes. we bought some for ella, max and daddy for packed lunches, and i have to say, they are quite cool, perfect for packing lunches, and lots of space. if you are interested in purchasing these for your family shoot me an email and i will send you the code to use so that her school gets credit for your purchase: i love these lunchboxes; i was able to pack their lunch with very little garbage involved. next thing i need to do is teach myself how to sew those little reusable bags for sandwiches and snacks.

stay tuned for a giveaway here on the little things on monday…you can win fun things to spruce up your child’s lunch (or your own lunch!).

ps…if you are wondering what happens to the food scraps from this lunch, mama took care of them, they were not thrown away ;)


Cindy Reaper said...

what a great idea. I am pretty handy with needle and thread, if you tell me what you want for the "baggies" I can try my hand at them. Are they made with some particular fabric or are they lined, is there someplace I can see an idea? Let me know and I will try it. I have lots of friends with kiddies and it would be good for them too!

RoseMamie said...

Cindy- the snack bags I have are these they are 100% cotton lined with a nylon fabric on the inside. I've been looking for the lining everywhere and can't find it! Katie, I'm with you on the lunches this year, and the Easy Lunchboxes do totally rock!! Those are some adorable lunches!! I can't wait to start packing the for the boys this school least with theirs I can get cute, Rodney might object to the Wild Thing or Pirate flag ;)

katie and the little things said...

I have a pattern somewhere for the bags I was going to make, I will try to find it to share with you. The pattern I have calls for oilcloth or a similar fabric. I am loving these lunchboxes! I just packed Sam's dinner in one for him to take to Grandma's house.

Pauline Childs said...

Last year, I bought small tackle boxes for lunches. They make great Bentos lots of little sections and easy to wash!

LibraryMom said...

Katie- I've got a TON of oil cloth for this same project. I'm happy to share!

katie and the little things said...

Library Mom -- do you have an easy pattern I could use? I have a bit of oil cloth here, I just need to figure out how to make them!