Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tips of the bento trade

Just like all skills and crafts, there are tips that will make your bento life much easier and save you from tearing your hair out.

First - Pack that sucker (box) as high and tight as you can. You don't want teeny items rolling around in your box, you want it jam packed so things don't get all messed up. This is where the right box comes in handy.

Second - Get creative with your decorations. Big A really wanted a firetruck once and I was all "how the heck and I supposed to decorate this?!?". My best lunch at summer camp reputation was on the line and I had to do some fast thinking, it was 10 minutes to out the door time.
Solution? I used a hot sauce cap for the wheels and cut strips of cheese and cucumber peel for the decorations, and a food marker for the ladder.
Don't judge, I can't cut straight for beans

Third- Prep, prep, prep. All those fruit and veggies  you just bought on your shopping trip? Cut, wash, store/freeze. I like to do a combo of straight cubed shapes and balls/start/hearts that way the kids don't get bored. If there is a awesome sale on berries, buy tons and freeze for when the price jumps in the winter. 
By chopping and cutting right when you get home, you save tons of time when actually assembling your lunches. No need to ball a whole melon when you can grab a portion and be done with it. 
** I don't like using plastic baggies, but for the juicy fruits I like them better than plastic containers. Little boys like to open containers in my house. To reduce waste I label and wash then reuse the baggies for the same fruits. 

A weeks worth of cantaloupe all ready prepped 

Fourth - Use as many leftovers as possible, or as much as the same fruit in the same week. Sounds counterproductive to getting your kids to eat new foods, but that cut melon isn't going to last forever to pack it in every other lunch. If you waste it, you might as well throw money directly in the garbage. Have two types, and one is a kind your kid/husband/gerbil doesn't like? Make a fruit salad! Have extra hamburger rolls? Make a fun sandwich with it instead of using bread slices. 
I got lucky, the husband always takes leftover dinner for lunch, so I only have to worry about using fruits and veggies. 
*All those scraps from cheese shapes and cutting cucumbers? Make a salad for your own lunch or dinner. I reuse the cheese in the morning scrambled eggs or grilled cheese. Once it's melted no one will ever know it was a cat that you failed miserably at cutting. 
 Left over bread for eggs in a basket!

Left over rolls from a BBQ for sandwiches 

Fifth - Have fun! Cutting fruit into shapes is not exactly the most awesome thing in the world (totally is to me!), but imagine the look on your kids' faces when they open it up at school. Their little wide bug like eyes. I never let Big A look at his lunch (unless he sneaks in the kitchen) and his teachers always tell me how excited he gets! If you can't think of ideas, GOOGLE some. There are tons of parents who blog  their kids lunches. *See! I'm not weird*
 Try out different things, from pizzas to sandwich sushi and enjoy the bento cult adventure. 
Not my best work
That's better! Using leftovers and being adorable! 

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