Friday, August 22, 2014

Fast and Healthy Bento Lunches

(4 1/2 Years)

I love all of the bento school lunches that I'm seeing displayed across Pinterest, they are so adorable!  For the past month or so, I've collected some fun and healthy ideas for when my Little Miss and Wild One go off to school (here are my favorites).   There are some really elaborate bento boxes out there, with cutesy picks, cutters in every shape and size, portioners inside portioners, PLUS the lunch boxes themselves!

Yeah... so... my style is cute and simple.  I wanted to find a quick and easy (and relatively inexpensive- you should see the prices on some of those fancy bento boxes) way to prepare bento-style lunches for my kidabunks.

First the box (well, bag).  The kids picked out their own insulated lunch bags.

We now need containers.  We purchased two types:
Ziplock Divider Containers
Rubbermaid LunchBlox Entree Kit

We also bought:
Silicone Muffin Cups - these are fantastic for instant portioning, AND I've been using them when we bake muffins and we have just enough batter left over to bake another one or two muffins.  Why does that happen?  Shouldn't a recipe for a dozen muffins make a dozen muffins?
Star Cookie Cutters- perfect for our bento-style lunches and for Christmas stars

We already had left-over Snow White cupcake liners and picks from their last birthday.  Plus we make our own picks using toothpicks and stickers- easy peasy.

Now comes the fun part.  Choosing delicious and healthy ingredients, and turning them into something that looks fun.  We stocked up on high water content fruit: strawberries, blueberries, grapes, apples and mandarin oranges.  My plan is to fill their lunch boxes with the following:
         lean protein
         high water content fruit (they may not drink as much water at school as they do at home)
         whole grains
         and eventually vegetables (Little Miss isn't a fan, but we keep trying)

Here is what we have created so far:
Red and Green Seedless Grapes, Blueberry Coconut Muffins, Clementine Slices, Chocolate Cheerios

LEFT- Star Sandwiches (whole wheat bread and roast beef), Cheddar Stars, Clementine, Sliced Strawberries,  Mickey Mouse imprinted Wheat Bread (Little Miss made this one- isn't it adorable?)
RIGHT- Clementine, Mini Cheddar Stars, Blueberries, Roast Beef Triangles, 
Sliced Strawberries, Chocolate Cheerios

LEFT- Red and Green Seedless Grapes, Apple Slices, Mickey Shaped Roast Beef 
Sandwich, Grape Tomatoes, Turkey and Ham roll-ups, Banana and Chocolate Cheerios (someone stole the chocolate Cheerios while I was getting ready to take the picture)
RIGHT- Flower Cheddar Cut-outs, Flower Wheat Breads, Chocolate Cheerios, 
Cat in the Hat's Hat (strawberry slices alternated with banana slices), 
Flower Roast Beef Sandwich, Turkey and Ham roll-ups

The Verdict?  Little Miss and Wild One love these!  In fact, it's one of their favorite parts of their school day!  Seriously, it's been on their top three favorite parts of their day (it's been number one for Little Miss all three days).  They love the surprise of what it's going to be, and what it will look like.  I love that they are eating a delicious and healthy lunch.  

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