Friday, October 28, 2011

munchables bento

A few days ago I was cleaning out and reorganizing some of the cabinets I have bento stuff in and a lot of boxes I hadn't used in a long time were all over the counters. Ethan immediately grabbed up this Paperchase box and requested lunch in it. It's the same box from Tyler's batty bento I posted yesterday. :)

lunchy bento

Packed in this bento box: a row of Wheat Thins crackers, Boar's Head peppered turkey, a couple cheddar cheese pumpkins, and a patch of lovely organic strawberries.
The turkey is threaded on two cute homemade bento picks

I'm a total slacker this year with the Halloween bentos! Last year I was loving (love, love, LOVING) doing Halloween bentos and I just can't muster up the enthusiasm this time around! My apologies to all the seekers of spook. Man, I don't even have a Halloween costume for Tyler yet. I think I'll be ransacking the dressup bin and see if I can find anything that is small enough to fit him. Lame Mom of the Year, right here!
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

toddler lunch: batty bento

A few days ago I was looking through some old posts and I realized that by the time my little girl was my youngest son's age I was making her cutesy bentos. That seemed to be the age when she noticed and enjoyed certain shapes and whatnot. So yesterday I used the other half of the sandwich leftover from Paige's nervous jackawantern to make a cute sandwich for Tyler, rather than just leave it plain. It was his first cute, non-scrappy, bento. :)


His batty bento - the leftover sandwich cut with a bat shaped cookie cutter, a few ham & cheese roll-ups, cucumber slices, clementine orange segments and chopped strawberry in a pumpkin shaped silicone cup, some organic "pirate booty" stuff. The bat's eyes are chocolate covered sunflower kernels.

Tyler was totally grinning ear to ear! He isn't much of a talker yet but he pointed at the bat and said "monder! grrr!". Translation: "monster! grrrr!". Teehee. :)

paperchase box

This bento is packed in a Paperchase box, using only one of the three inner dishes it came with. Paperchase is (was?) a company that made cute novelty stuff, some bags and containers, lots of stationary items, stickers, etc. Borders used to carry their stuff, but since Borders has gone belly-up I have no clue where Paperchase stuff can be found these days (besides the UK). Bummer. :(    Luckily I was able to snag a few of these boxes way back when (I have two, and provided the third in a giveaway).


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

bento lunch: the case of the confuzzled jack-o-lantern sandwich

Remember the other day I made my demanding preschooler my little princess those little sealed square-ish sandwiches in a bento and she complained they were not cool for Halloween? Hmph. Well, I thought I'd make her another jack-o-lantern sandwich, but to get back at her add some Halloween spookiness I attempted to make it a SCARY jack-o-lantern. Not all smiley like that last one.

I got my face shapes ready...I found the wiggly mouth shape from a set of popsicle tools from Williams Sonoma. I knew instantly it was meant for a jack-o-lantern grin. Can't you envision the menacing face they will make?
Ooh, I was reveling in the delicious passive aggressiveness  frightful fun!


And then the shapes in action:
confused jack-o-lantern sandwich bento

Um, yeah. Fail.
It's not scary at all!
In fact Paige squeeled, "oh my! This jackawantern looks nervous! Aw, poor little guy."

Sigh. Bento box contents:
- peanut butter and jelwee sandwich on whole wheat bread
- a couple perfect strawberries
- homemade pickles in a pumpkin shaped silicone cup
- cheddar cheese cat heads
- pretzel sticks
- almonds
- grapes
- a couple Hello Panda cookies
- I think that's it, but this is a lot of food to remember. :p

I drew a freaky cat face on the top piece of cheddar cheese using food safe markers (I realized after that the kitty's nose was upside down). Fail again (haha). :)

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

tutorial: how to make cute bento picks

I just thought I'd share an idea to make your own cute bento picks. :) It's nothing crazy creative, definitely not reinventing the wheel, but a fun and easy little craft that can help add a bit of cuteness to your bento boxes.

how to make bento picks

Step 1: Gather your supplies.

You'll need picks.
Regular tooth picks and bamboo forks are really easy to find - I've seen the bamboo forks everywhere from Target to party supply stores. I like the plastic picks because they are washable and sturdy...I found this box at Dollar Tree.

You'll need stickers.
Any small stickers will do. I really like the little plastic stickers that are kind of bubbly and thick. I found cute Halloween ones at Target. The fall stickers are from either Target's Dollar Spot or possibly the cheap bins at Michael's. I got those last year and can't recall exactly.

You'll need a glue gun, possibly. Definitely if using the cute little plastic stickers, but not for regular paper stickers.

Step 2: glue stickers on picks.

Like I said, this is not rocket science. :)
Just a dot of glue will do.

Place sticker on glue. Smile at the cuteness.

To help ease the stickiness on the back of the sticker you can rub a drop of dishsoap and rinse off.

alternate Step 2 for paper stickers.

For these picks I used stickers that were mirror images. The same size, same shape, same image, just facing opposite directions.
See the two turkeys where the toothpick is pointing? Those are perfect.

Take the two like-stickers and sandwich a toothpick end between them and press firmly.

If you don't have mirror-image stickers you could easily cut a small piece of paper to use on the back. In that case you may need a drop of glue. These stickers were not very sticky and a dab of glue could have helped them seal up better. That's what I get for buying dollar bin stickers. :)

Making your own picks can be a fun craft to do with your kids. Homemade picks may be a good option if you have kiddos who "accidentally" don't remember to bring home their regular bento picks, or for field trips (or other days a disposable lunch is needed), or to spice up a food tray at a class party!
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Monday, October 24, 2011

hauntingly awful Halloween bento lunch

There are times that despite my best efforts the bento box just doesn't come together the way I had hoped. This was one of those times.


This bento lunch was hauntingly awful.

Packed in the sandwich box:
- two little sealed pb&j sandwiches
- two clementines
- silicone spider cup full of homemade pickles
- goldfish crackers
- silicone cup of cheddar cheese

There is a little fruit leather scaredy cat cut with a mini cutter for a bit of decoration and I used grassy barran to keep any moisture from the clementines off the sandwich bread. One piece of the cheddar cheese was cut into a pumpkin shape using a mini cookie cutter, with the scrappy pieces hidden under it.

Paige informed me on this day that she only likes peanut butter and jelwee sandwiches and requested I stop putting "that other stuffs" inside them. So pb&j it was. I sealed the little sandwiches using a Play-Doh toy from the kids' stash and a sharp knife.

sealed sandwich

I used the top/wide side of the cutter to smash the bread (and seal it) and used the knife to trim around. I was able to make one mini sealed sandwich per bread slice with very little left to waste. It's always fun to find regular items around the house to use for bento-ing. :)  Fun until the little sassy pants girl informs me that square sandwiches are not very cool for Halloween and what she willy wanted was another jack-o-lantern sandwich. In the words of Charlie Brown, GOOD GRIEF!

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

batty Lock & Lock bento

This is a pretty lame attempt at a Halloween bento. It was early and cold. That's all I have to say on the matter. ;-)

a little batty Lock & Lock bento box

Packed in a 4-square Lock & Lock box:
- ghoulish pickles (I never buy these kind because I think they look so ugly. My hubs got them and I have to say they do look very Halloweeny)
- pretzel thins (I realized after they sorta look like a cartoony skull or owl face) (Right??
- organic raspberries...probably our last raspberries of the year
- organic baby carrots

There is a spooky bat pick in with the raspberries to spice things up a bit. Ethan also took a cereal bar, granola bar and yogurt in his lunchbox to augment this lunch and snack. Since his lunch period is so early this year (10:30!) his appetite varies. He eats what he is hungry for during brunch lunch, and then has the rest during his afternoon snack time. And he always has milk in an insulated Thermos Funtainer, too. :)

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween jack-o-lantern sandwich bento lunch & a scrappy one too

Woo! That may just be the wordiest post title I've ever used. :)

This was my Paigey-Pie's lunch today...
jack-o-lantern sandwich bento

Packed in an Everset Sandwich Box she has:
- cucumber mishaps in a pumpkin shaped silicone cup (found those at a hobby shop last year)
- raspberries
- jack-o-lantern ham & cheese sandwich
- bbq flavored Pop Chips
- a couple tiny clementine oranges

The cucumber mishaps were born from a cucumber idea gone awry. My idea didn't work out so I hacked them up and tossed them in the silicone cup.

The jack-o-lantern sandwich was made simply using a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter and then using tiny bento cutters to make the face. The cheese inside the sandwich shows through nicely.

Teensy cutters:
bento shapes cutters

I've purchased a lot of these little cutter sets. You can find similar ones here and here.
Little cutters are one of my favorite bento supply staples. :)

The skinny-ish pumpkin cookie cutter left a lot of bread to waste - almost half a slice for each side, but not quite enough for me to squeeze another pumpkin out of, but too much for me to just toss as scraps. Times have changed since the days my littlest kidlet began eating the scraps...these days they usually end up in his little bentos. :)

Bento scraps turned bento

He's got the exact same foods as his big sister, just in a less inspired presentation.  Almost every time I'm making a bento for Paige I'm making one for him too, his are just (almost always) not as cute, and usually the landing pad of all the scraps.  Luckily, he doesn't mind (yet). :)  The bread used to make his sandwich was the leftover bread from Paige's jack-o-lantern sandwich - note the rounded shape on the cut side!
This box is a sandwich box I found at Marshalls a year or so ago.


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Monday, October 17, 2011

teeny weeny bento box to go

This bento may be teeny weeny (4" square!), but it was a pretty filling snack/mini lunch.


In this compact bento:
- boiled egg

- clementine orange
- few grapes
- ham & cheese roll-ups
- giraffe bento pick

Paige ate this right up during some recent travels she and I were on. It was just the right size to not take up much carrying space, but keep her tummy happy for a long stretch. God bless eggs and the powerful protein punch they pack. ;-)
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Friday, October 14, 2011

bento lunch: slightly spooky in a Sassy box

This was one super quick and easy bento with a slightly spooky switch-up. :)

spooky Sassy

In the top section are two spider web ham & cheese sandwiches,  secured with spider picks.

In the bottom section is a clementine orange jack-o-lantern, mini pickles goblin fingers, and a silicone cup of black olive spider abdomens. Nom nom nom.

This scrumptious meal is served up in a Sassy Box.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

PlanetBox lunch: smiles and swirls

This PlanetBox lunch is beary smiley and swirly. :)

Planetbox smiles and swirls

In the large compartment the PlanetBox big dipper dish holds a citrus-y flower of clementine orange segments with a strawberry center.

Top section: swirly ham & cheese sandwich sushi rolls

Side sections: mini Teddy Graham crackers and cucumber bears with nori face details.

The tiny treat spot holds a piece of dark chocolate.

The cucumber bears were cut with a small bear-shaped cookie cutter and the nori faces were made with a nori punch (I got mine from JBox).

I've had this stuff in my pantry forever and have just recently started to enjoy working with it. Eating it on the other hand.... I'm still working on that. :p  Paige and Tyler will eat it if it's in tiny piece like this, Ethan thinks it has cooties.

Anyone else playing with nori?
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lock & Lock bentos: two for the 4th grader in my life

I'd love to report after all this time that Ethan is suddenly a lot less picky than he used to be...but I would be lying if I did. Sigh.

His lunches look much the same as always.

Lock & Lock box bento

On the right: baby carrots, strawberries with elephant pick.
On the left: Trader Joe's cereal bar, granola bar, pretzels, grassy baran to separate, cheddar cheese hearts. 
Packed in our tried and true "4 square" Lock & Lock box.

On another day...a very similar lunch...

Lock and Lock bento

Once again, in a Lock & Lock, he has:
- Wheat Thin crackers with cream cheese
- baby carrots
- the same cereal bar and granola bar, cut in half so they fit in the small box
- purple grapes and a clementine with leaf pick.

The one big shake-up that's occurred with Ethan's school lunches is that he is actually eating THE school lunch the cafeteria serves up 1-2 times a week. I used to be able to use the threat of cafeteria food to whip him into behaving/cleaning his room/etc., but now he's usually game for it (for eating from the cafeteria, not necessarily behaving or cleaning his room). Sigh (again).

Another new thing we are dealing with this year - his lunch time is at 10:30! Isn't that crazy? So he has lunch just two hours after school starting and then has five hours until he's home. He does get a snack in the afternoon, but it's definitely an odd adjustment for him.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

how to make sandwich sushi rolls

Making "sandwich sushi" is a really easy way to make your sandwich take up a lot less space in your bento box. Just look at this tiny wittle bento...

Sandwich Sushi how-to tutorial
This is made with two whole pieces of white-wheat bread, the pb&j, strawberry and Annie's organic cheddar bunnies.

Here's how I make my sandwich sushi rolls. Stay tuned, there's a little trick I do to make my rolls. :)

Step 1: gather your ingredients and supplies.

You will need:
-contents for your sandwich rolls (here I'm using sunflower butter and preserves, (though at the last minute my husband found the peanut butter I overlooked in the pantry))
-sharp knife
-rolling pin or extra cutting board

Step 2: take two slices of bread and cut off the crusts.
sushi1 Sushi2

Step 3: separate your pieces and prepare to smoosh.

Step 4: smoosh gently. Slightly smoosh. This is not the grand squishing moment.
I like to lay a cutting board over the top and press. That usually works really well for me.

See? The bread is smooshed, but not totally flattened. This is important for the secret step coming up next.

(this is the super secret tip part....)

Step 5: overlap the edges of the bread, like so -
Haha, can you see my palm print and finger indentations in the bread? I had to fiddle so much with my camera between steps that the bread started puffing back up. I had to beat it back down into submission.

Step 6: Roll that sucker flat. Or smoosh like heck. Flatten it anyway you want.

ta-dah!! One long piece of bread now!

Step 7: Trim the edges so they are all nice and straight.

Step 8: Add your filling.
Whatever you use, whether pb&j or ham & cheese, leave a little space at the end because the contents tend to squish toward the end as you roll. Now, I could have spread mine a little more than I did here, like maybe half-way to the end more. The thicker your filling is the more it tends to creep to the end.

Step 9: Roll 'em on up. Then, slice with a sharp knife.

Step 10: Admire your cute little sandwich sushi rolls. :)

And finally, pack 'em on in. These went in the tiny Sistema box. This is the same little box  I used in the itty bitty snack boxes post last summer two summers ago, where I referred to them as about the size of a deck of cards. I wanted to show the comparison this time, but couldn't find a deck of cards anywhere in this house. I did, however, (finally) find Uno cards. :p


There's no other way a 2-slice-of-bread-sandwich would have fit in this tiny little box!

So there ya go. I spilled my super secret sandwich sushi trick. Enjoy! :)

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Monday, October 10, 2011

EasyLunchboxes: "back in the saddle again" bento lunch

After a week of posting I'm starting to feel like I'm back in the saddle again. The bento blogging saddle, that is. :) 

Here's my dapper bento lunch to celebrate.

Back in the Saddle again! bento lunch

Packed in an EasyLunchboxes container I have:
- a whole wheat multigrain sandwich of (low sodium) turkey, low fat provolone, mustard and spinach
- crunchy organic gala apple slices
- spicy jalepeno almonds
- organic baby carrots

I ordered those cowboy-esque picks last year and I can't remember what the heck I was planning to do with them, but they seemed to tie in with my "back in the saddle" theme, so there they are in my apple slices. I cut out the "giddy up" from provolone cheese using mini alphabet cutters. A little grassy baran provides a barrier between my sandwich and the apples. My sandwich was so full the lid needed some help staying on, so a big rubberband held it together securely for an afternoon of errands. :)  This was actually lunch and a snack for me.

Nutrition breakdown:
sandwich: 310 calories (9g fat, 29g carbs, 27g protein, 5g fiber)
apple: 90 calories (0 fat, 25g carbs, 0 protein, 5g fiber)
almonds: 170 calories (15g fat, 5g carbs, 6g protein, 3g fiber)
carrots: 30 calories (0 fat, 7g carbs, .5g protein, 1.5g fiber)
total: 571 calories (24g fat, 59g carbs, 33g protein, 13g fiber)

During the time I was on a blogging hiatus I really knuckled down on my health and have become a compulsive calorie (and macronutrient!) counter. And I've forged a deep love of exercise. It's such a fantastic avenue for stress relief. That's a great thing since my kids totally stress me out. Ha! I love going to the gym now. LOVE it.  Oh hey, and I lost 50 pounds in the process. Yay me!

I am really sorry I just fell off the radar for so long, I know when that's happened to bloggers I follow I get really worried that something happened to them or to their family...and on the occasions they popped back up and started blogging again like nothing happened and without explanation I'd even get miffed and wonder incessantly why had they disappeared? what were they doing? don't they care that I worried about them?! 

Sooo... I felt the need here to sort of explain where I went for...oh...9 months.  It's not that I didn't love bento-ing or blogging (or you!) that kept me away for so long. I was just really focused on my health and making this new lifestyle stick. :) 

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Friday, October 7, 2011

EasyLunchboxes: Frankenstein monster wrap bento lunch

One of my bentos from a few days ago...I decorated it to thrill the kids, and I ate it to thrill my hungry tummy. ;-)

Frankenstein Monster wrap Bento

In the large section is a spinach wrap filled with turkey, cheese and spinach. Decorated with nori and icing eyes. There are a handful of grapes on Halloween picks. I really don't care for purple grapes, but I'm trying to make myself like them. More antioxidants in the purple ones than in the yummier green ones. ;-)
In the side sections are jalapeno almonds and organic baby carrots. Yum.

This is all packed in a fabulous EasyLunchboxes container!

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

creepy little monkey bento

I think when it comes to monkeys there are two camps: you either think they are creepy or you think they are cute. I am in Camp Creepy. And this bento just proves my point.

creepy little monkey bento

Packed in an Everset sandwich box:
- two little cream cheese and fruit preserve sandwiches
- silicone cup of cucumbers and a big strawberry
- whole wheat pretzel sticks
- cheddar cheese flowers cut with a mini flower shaped cutter
- purple grapes (left on the vine so they stay together better)
- fruit leather creepy monkey face, secured with a bento hat pick

The sandwich is made with what I think is an empanada press. I'm not sure how I even came to own this, but it's been in my kitchen utensil drawer for years. It's nice because it uses up the whole slice of bread, only crusts going to waste (or in our case, in the scrap bag for feeding ducks). And the edges are all nicely sealed up for less mess. And it's cute.  :)

update: I remembered! It's a dumpling maker I ordered from JBox. Mystery solved!!

sandwich maker

The creepy monkey's face was made using the same cutter set I used to make the faces on the cheese in the 12 days of Christmas: eleven pipers piping bento -- so many people asked if it was from a punch -- no way! I'd never stick anything squishy like cheese or fruit leather in a punch. What a mess that would make! :)  This is the cutter set I used:
face making for bento

I don't know what it is called exactly and I can't find them anywhere anymore - I've had these for a long time. This is actually two sets, each set came with 3 "discs". I'm missing one in this pic (that is, I couldn't find it to include in the photo). I bought one set from JBox over a year ago and the second set I found at a local bento shop before that. The closest thing I can find is these cutters on Amazon, that's the same brand packaging, but not the same set I have. If anyone has seen them somewhere, please share in comments! I know a lot of people were interested in them.

update: these cutters are now available here.

So please tell. Are you in the camp that monkeys are creepy too? Or are you in the Cute Camp? Let's hear it for Camp Creepy. ;-)

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

bento lunch: Star Wars in a PlanetBox

A cosmic lunch for my awesome 9-year-old. Actually, this was more of a late afternoon snack than a full-fledged lunch. But totally groovy  galactic nonetheless. :)

StarWars Planetbox

Clockwise from top left: baby carrots, purple grapes, mini quesadillas topped with Stars Wars cheese, sunflower kernels and the little treat section holds chocolate and candy coated sunflower kernels.

Nope, no m&m's! That tube is being repurposed to dispense sunflower kernels. :) It's the perfect size and makes them really easy to carry and eat!
repurposed m&m tube for bento

The light sabers are a huge hit with my three big kids. They are actually for cupcakes, but make really great bento picks, easy to spear things on them. I left them laying on top of the grapes here so you could see them better. :)
light sabers in Planetbox

The Star Wars cheese (a Storm Trooper and X-wing fighter ship ((according to my obsessed son)) is made with a set of cookie press cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma. I've had the face ones for a long time and then this past May Ethan picked out the new space ship set for my Mother's Day gift. Isn't he precious?
I decorated the accents with food safe markers using the same technique I used with the Hello Kitty cutters I posted Monday (shown here). It didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but the boy was happy and that was good enough for me. :)
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

EasyLunchboxes: angry birds bento lunch!

Oh. My. Gosh.  Making this bento nearly sent me over the edge! It was easily 100 times more frustrating than playing angry birds and just as addictive. I could.not.stop.myself even though I was on the verge of a full fledged psychotic meltdown.

A psychotic meltdown thanks to these stinkin' guys! Stupid birds.
angry birds bento

Those darn "black ninja birds" (as I call them) were cursed. They are olives with icing eyes and carrot beaks. Icing eyes and carrot beaks that I could barely get to stay in place. There are three eyeballs that fell down the bottom of that compartment that I couldn't get back out without shifting things too much...and any movement sent them falling to pieces again.

The big white do-do bird (as I think of him) is a hard boiled egg with carrot beak, nori feathers and eyebrows, and olive eye balls. His eyes are not right, but I couldn't have cared less at that point. I started this fiasco with these birds and I was already SO OVER the idea by the time I was half way done with them.

angry birds lunch bento

This is the dude who sparked the Angry Birds bento idea for me in the first place. You know I love my kiwi dudes :) and the big 'ol pig guy was made to be kiwi. A last minute notion was to take some of the kiwi fur to make a mustache. The mustache pigs always seem a little friendlier to me somehow. :)  His eyes are large icing eyes and I stuck some bento picks in him for ears. I had planed to carve out some kiwi from the back to use as ears, but like I said, I was really ticked off at the bento by this point. Ha.

angry birds bento

Besides the kiwi pig dude, it was the idea of cutting a sandwich up into "blocks" to make a building for little pigs to hide in that drove me to do this bento. That's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with little grape pigs taking cover.  The red angry bird is Babybell cheese with a carrot beak and nori eyebrows. I totally got this idea from one of Wendolonia's bentos. :) He was super easy, but he's also kinda wonky, so it's really all relative. :p

This Angry Birds bento is packed in an EasyLunchboxes container. It worked out just perfectly for this arrangement. Oh! And this bento didn't travel far. It went from the kitchen counters (where I cursed at it repeatedly (silently, to myself)) to the kitchen table where it greeted Ethan and Paige just as they got home from school. They were super excited over it and started fighting over the kiwi dude immediately. Fun times! ;-)

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