Adventures in Bento


School has officially begun for Emily, which means lots of homemade packed lunches! I know how challenging it can be to pack a healthy, quick, and budget-friendly lunch, so I thought I would share some of the lunches and snacks Emily enjoyed this week.

Clockwise from Top Left: Stonyfield Organic Yogurt, Whole Wheat Cocktail Bread,
Tuna Salad with Cheese Stars, Organic Carrot and Celery Bites,
Organic Strawberries, Small Cookie.

Both of us love her new PlanetBox for packing lunches. Everything stays neatly in its place, and the box itself is very well-made. One of the key requirements we have for lunch box containers is that they MUST be easy to open, and this one is a synch! It is pricey, so I’m hoping it lasts for a very long time ((fingers crossed)).

And for snack….

From Left to Right: Organic Blueberries, Raspberries, and Kiwi,
Goldfish Crackers, Organic Celery, Mini Babybel Cheese

Her class has lunch very early in the day, so they have a few minutes for snack time in the afternoon. She ate some of it at school, and then finished the rest when she returned home. Also, we wash and reuse the plastic forks, since I try to pack her lunches to be relatively waste-free.

The next day she made a specific request to pack leftovers from dinner the night before for her lunch — a splendid idea!!

Clockwise from Top Left: Organic Apple Sauce, Broccoli,
Cous Cous with Carrot Flowers,
Organic Strawberries, Chicken Bites, Small Cookie

Then we mixed things up a bit with a whole wheat mini-bagel sandwich!

Clockwise from Top Left: Stonyfield Organic Yogurt, Organic Apples,
Peanut Butter, Butter, and
Cinnamon Whole Wheat Mini-Bagel Sandwich,
Organic Strawberries, Organic Carrots, Small Cookie

The apple slices were coated with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. The only thing that she didn’t eat were the leaves on the strawberries!

Are you getting hungry yet?????

This next lunch was a big hit too…..

Clockwise from Top Left: Stonyfield Organic Yogurt with Honey,
Sweet Potato and Beet Chips,
Turkey and Cheese on Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins,
Organic Cucumber, Organic Blackberries, Mini Peanut Butter Cup

I think she liked the whole grain sandwich thins a LOT!

Here’s another fun snack….

Left to Right: Whole Grain Crackers with Peanut Butter,
Cheese Stars with Turkey Roll Ups,
Organic Blackberry and Grape Mini Fruit Kabobs

This Tupperware container was inherited from my grandmother!! Check out the retro turquoise! *glee* I love how nicely it holds the silicone muffin cups, and it’s the perfect size for Emily’s lunch sack.

One day for a hot lunch, she took some soup in an insulated thermos along with some fresh fruit and crackers. The soup was completely gone, and most of the other container was eaten as well, and she finished the little bit that was leftover when she returned home.

Left to Right: Cheese Crackers, Organic Blueberries, Kiwi, and Strawberries

That’s it for this week!

In case you missed it,  you can read more about how I make these packed lunches affordable by reading our Bento on a Budget post. Coming up next week, we’ll share some tips for saving money on organic food so be sure to check back again soon!

I linked this post to:
Get Your Craft On @ Today’s Creative Blog
Works for Me Wednesday @ We Are THAT Family

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Comments

  1. Dear Valerie,

    … my lunches never look this nice. What am I, chopped liver?

    Love,
    Mark

    p.s. you knew that I wanted a Hello Kitty thermos, too!

  2. I have been looking at bento lunches lately because I think they are a great idea. Only thing is I guess I won’t be able to figure it out until I see a bento box… But how do the celery and cookie and chips not all get mixed up? If the box turns sideways and is carried by a handle, it stays put?? Love all the ideas.

    • It has a hinged lid and is designed so that everything stays neatly in place, even when carried on its side. The Tupperware container is the same way, although everything is kept in place with silicone muffin cups and the container is packed to keep things from shifting all over the place. Hope this helps!

  3. These are so healthy, too. They look so do-able. Makes me want to pack lunches just for the fun of it. :) Perhaps we will have to have a picnic while the weather is still warm.
    (I had a wonderful laugh at Mark’s comment, too.)

  4. Nice new layout! Just wanted you to know that I really enjoy your blog & have given you a blog award! You can accept it & pass it along on my blog at http://www.survivingateacherssalary.blogspot.com Have a fabulous week!!
    Crystal- AKA- The Teacher’s Wife

  5. Emily must have the prettiest and healthiest lunches in her school! I found this interesting blog: http://www.bentolunch.net/ – Shannon has a lot of good ideas there as well (not that you need to copy anyone else, you rock!)

  6. More proof why you are my hero, these lunches aren’t just healthy, they’re fun! I did a guest post on Simple Mom a few weeks ago about bento lunches. Still working on getting to your level. Wish me luck! Any tips on getting kids to eat tuna?

    • Can you post the link to your guest post? I’d love to check it out!

      No tips on getting kids to eat tuna… Emily is so weird with that. She LOVES tuna — to the point that she requested a can of tuna from the tooth fairy when she lost her first tooth. Crazy kid!

  7. Oh, your lunches are just so pretty! I wish my boys were better eaters. We get tired of making PB&J.

    • Good luck of your kids ever go to a nut-free school. My little ones had to give up their Nutella when they started camp & school. Try reading them “Bread and Jam for Frances” some time.

    • Clara is a lot more picky, but it might just be her age (I hope!). I remember Emily being a picky eater around age 2 as well, but she out-grew it. Thank goodness!

      I remember asking my mom for PB&J almost every day when I was a kid!!!

  8. My oldest is only 2.5 yo so we have a little time before school lunches but these are amazing and have totally inspired me to start making better lunches at home!!!

    Plus, I kinda want to start using that lunchbox myself :)

  9. These look awesome! Is your daughter loving them? My two kids absolutely adore their bentos, apparently cute food is much better than non-cute food, and food on a stick tops everything! ;o)

    I followed a backlink on my blog, you’re welcome to come add this to What’s for Lunch Wednesday if you’d like! It’s a once a week bento link up, just for fun. :o)

    • I will definitely link up next week — awesome!!

      She does love them, and it’s fun to spend time together packing her lunch. I do think she eats a lot more healthy food when it looks neatly put together.

  10. These lunches look too cute to eat! Love how great they look. I’m sure it makes it more fun to eat when they look so fun.

    http://www.holy-craft.blogspot.com

  11. my mouth is watering! Do you want to pack my lunch when I go into the office on Mondays?

  12. Those are wonderful lunches filled with nutrition and so colorful. Awesome job mom!

  13. Fantastic ideas! I’ve barely dipped my toe into the bento world and would never claim that what I pack in my divided gladware was anything near a real bento lunch! But, being creative does make my little guy eat better. Thanks for your tips!

    • That’s pretty much all I do — it’s like speed Bento! I’m hoping to be in for the long haul, so anything too intricate is going to burn me out. They are so much fun!!

  14. This post proves our kindergarden teacher wrong. At parent’s night, she mentioned that the kids may celebrate their birthdays in school, but any treats had to be healthy. Which she implied could never be a fun or popular snack. I’m thinking some carrot stars and fruit kabobs might change her mind.

    BTW, frozen fruit kabobs are a summer favorite here. It can be as simple as a banana (or popsicle shape of melon or pineapple) on a popsicle stick or as intricate as a fruit salad on a skewer, with maybe a marshmallow thrown in for kicks.

    • That makes me very happy!! Healthy fun can DEFINITELY be lots of fun!!! And I love your ideas for healthy birthday treats… yum!!!!

  15. Salaam and peace! I love your lunches! Really they were just so cute and healthy; I am going to look online now for a nice compartmentalized container for Aaminah’s lunches. She goes 3 half days to child care , and I like to pack healthy, fun lunches.

    Thanks a bunch for great ideas for lunch! :-)

    • Fantastic!! I’ve seen a few with compartments, but if you find a single container, like the Tupperware one we use, the silicone cups work really nicely to keep things from sliding all over the place. Have fun!!

  16. I loved the lunches!!!! I agree that Emily must have the best lunches in her class.
    Please keep the bento posts coming. Also, you read my mind!!!
    I wanted to ask you to share some tips on how to save on organic.
    I recently am adding more organic items into my grocery shopping, but my bill goes up a lot.

  17. Can you come to my house and make lunch for my kids? Actually, can you make my lunch too?

  18. Thanks for sending coming to my blog and commenting on my dd lunch. I LOVE your lunches from the week too!
    Funny that we both started Bento type lunches at the same time…I guess great minds think alike LOL.

    Can’t wait to see more lunches you plan – maybe we’ll get ideas or inspire each other :)

    YOU ROCK!

    • Awesome!! I know what you mean, I read your post and thought, “Wow, I just posted about the same thing!” LOL

  19. Valerie ~ please will you adopt me? :)

  20. Fantastic lunches- will you come make some for my family??? =o)

  21. These look great and now I’m hungry. Unfortunately, my bento box is in my freezer and gets microwaved after I peel the saran wrap from the top.

  22. Ohhh my God!!!!!
    I can’t beleive such an Expensive $$$$$$$$$$$$ box on Frugal…………….so very much disappointed:(:(:(

    • It was a tough price to swallow, and probably the only drawback to it, but a huge drawback nonetheless. The good news is you certainly do not need the same box to pack a Bento style lunch, as you can see with the Tupperware container I use for Emily’s snack.

  23. yum!

  24. I’ve been looking for a good bento box, for my husband, actually. You’re an artiste! I doubt our lunches will ever look as pretty!

    • The small Pyrex containers with lids work very well for Mark’s lunches. He uses the 5 x 7 dishes that are about an inch deep. I’m amazed by how much food I can pack in there!

  25. These look wonderful! I bookmarked the site…. I may seriously consider treating myself to one of these boxes for Christmas!

  26. Can you tell us if your daughter uses the carrying case for the PlanetBox? I have looked at these before, but they are so pricey! All the compartments are wonderful and the big & little dipper containers look great.

    • If you already have an insulated lunch box with similar dimensions, just reuse it. We have the carrying case because it allows for an ice pack, which means if there is food leftover from her lunch, she can eat it once she gets home, so food is never wasted. The only issue we’ve had with the PlanetBox was the price. It is really well-made, well-designed, and we’ve been very happy with it otherwise. I do hope it lasts for a long time!

  27. http://secure.laptoplunches.com/AMAZING/index.asp?FSCat=41&url=IND&iFromFeatured=1
    Has less expensive boxes than Planet Box, but they are plastic, not metal. I always go to them for their menu ideas, though. Yum. Love the Bento idea.

    • I would have absolutely gone with Laptop Lunches, especially since they are not as expensive, and they are made in the USA… Yay!!!

      But Emily couldn’t open the containers by herself, which means she would have to ask a lunch aide to help her every time. I do think it is perfect, for the older ones especially!

  28. I’m so jealous of your Planet Box! I was looking at them on line and boy are they spendy! Since you’re so thrifty, do you really think you’ll save money with one and how many school years do you think you’ll get out of it?

    • I do think it saves money over time, and will certainly keep you posted on how long it lasts…. I’m hoping for at least 3 years, and we’ll be using it every weekday. Buying snacks in bulk is often about 1/2 price, and not having to purchase disposable containers, single-serve pre-packaged snacks, disposable baggies, plastic ware and napkins for every lunch will help make up the cost of it.

      At least… that’s what I keep telling myself! We’ll see!

  29. I keep coming back to this box. I really like it but was so surprised at the price. I know for sure one of mine loves packed lunch and would adore this box. I’m looking forward to filling it too but I’m not sure yet if the other one is so I’m holding out until I know for sure. Half term is the deciding time. By then you’ll have a whole 1/2 term of excellent ideas to inspire me. lol.

    • Perfect! Yes, I would wait and see since it is a big investment. Plus, you’ll be able to see how it’s working for us, or if for some reason we’re not happy with it, we’ll let you know!

  30. Wow, that not only looks yummy, but it’s beautiful as well. Is it just me or do you have a lot of patience and cute little fancy cutter thingies? :-)

  31. I LOVE the idea of using silicone cups for snacks. I send my daughter’s preschool snack in a Tupperware bowl that is divided into three sections but it’s very shallow, which makes some snacks a challenge. I’m going to look through my mom’s basement for that Tupperware container (or a local thrift store) as another option for sending snacks. Thanks! As always, you are awesome!

  32. I love this!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  33. OK, can you please share your grocery shopping frugal tips?!?! All this organic food is expensive, but I know it’s worth it. Just want to know how you balance it all. How much do you spend a month? What does your grocery list look like?

    Thanks for all you do!

  34. Can you plz make my lunches? I am gagging over the same old pb sandwiches.

  35. I really love how you cut the carrots into flowers and the cheese into stars!! I used those ideas with some foods with my daughter. Thank you :)

    here is my post
    http://www.lifeglutenfree.com/mama_baby_gluten_free/2011/03/making-food-fun.html