Bento Box Adventures

Twinkies, Ding Dongs, mini cans of Coca-Cola, Cheetos, individually wrapped slices of American cheese—it’s fair to say that my childhood experience with packing my own lunch was far from nourishing. In fact, I might even say I’ve got a little lunchbox PTSD. It reared its head a few months ago when my daughter started asking to take her lunch to preschool, even though meals are provided. So I slyly put her off (“Lunchboxes are for big kids!”).

Until this week.

With the start of summer camps, packing a lunch is now a daily requirement. Oh my.

Breeeeathe, breathe-breathe-breeeathe, Breathe.

It’s only lunch.
And a snack.
Um, for the next 15 years or so!

But I think it’s going to be OK. I mean, I feed the child at home daily, and that’s working out alright. Plus, this: Bento boxes! I think they just might save the day, especially with the help of the Yum-Yum Bento Box book and the fantabulous Facebook page and website for Wendolonia, where Wendy-the-chief-bento-maker posts her creations by the week. (I can practically hear the heavens singing  … Wen-DAH-lOOOOOO-nEEE-Ahhh!)

I made my first go of bento yesterday:

Bento Box Adventures-1

Obviously, I’m no Yum-Yum pro just yet, but the novice crafter in me felt like a kid again. My daughter was delighted too. Hooray, me! The menu:

  • rice ball
  • nori for the eyes and mouth
  • Laughing Cow mini-cheese
  • Pirate’s Booty
  • turkey
  • pita bread
  • carrots (under the turkey, along with the pita)
  • hummus (in a separate container).

Here’s a peek in the snacktime box:

Bento Box Adventures-2

I cut out a heart-shaped chunk of cheese with a cookie cutter. Just. Plain. Fun. I’m looking forward to making snack again tomorrow! (never thought I’d say that about preparing school lunch!) This bento box also included:

  • dried strawberries
  • kettle corn
  • whole grain crackers
  • roasted seaweed.

My girl loves roasted seaweed. Proof? The box came home empty.

As I get more practice at making bento box lunches, I’ll invite my daughter to help a bit with preparing her pretty lunch. And beyond that, I think bento boxes just may be the gateway to better eating at our house, inspiring more thoughtful cooking in the evenings to make great leftovers for lunch. Goodness knows we need something to get us fired up about meal planning!

How about you, mama? Thinking about bento? (check out the helpful Wendolonia FAQ.) Or do you bento already? What works for you? I’d love some great examples in the comments here and pictures of your bento beauties over on the Mamahhh Facebook page. Thanks!!

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