Making Lunch Fun, One Box at a Time

ben·tol·o·gy (ben t äləjē) Noun : The study of making nutritious and fun lunches for my daughters.

I get a lot of inspiration from other blogs. So, in hopes someone might get some inspiration from me, I've decided to post some pictures here.

This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.Proverbs 3:7-9

FAQs

How Do I Get Started?

Are you just getting started with bento packing or maybe just considering it?  Here are a few things to know as you get started.

1.     The first step is choosing a bento box – or maybe a couple.  I think having a variety of boxes aids in creativity.  It’s also beneficial because you can vary the types and amounts of foods you include.  I have two little girls so smaller sized boxes are perfect for them.  In fact, we rarely use both tiers in the two-tier box. 
There are lots of other boxes, such as the Goodbyn, Laptop Lunches, and EasyLunchboxes, that I don’t have.  Well, that’s not true…I HAVE a Goodbyn, it’s just huge and I haven’t gotten up the nerve to use it. 
2.     Now that you have your box, you need something to carry it in!  There are zillions of bags out there.  Some bento boxes even come with a bag!  Here are a couple of things to consider when you are looking for a bag.
·         It needs to be insulated.  To keep that yummy food fresh and safe until lunch time, you will want to pack it in an insulated bag with an ice pack.
·         Consider how it’s carried and how your bento box fits into it.  Some bags seem like the perfect size but when you close it up and grab it by the handle, you’ve suddenly flipped your beautifully packed lunch on it’s side.  *Hopefully* you’ve packed it tightly enough that it would stay put but why press your luck!?  Pick a bag that will keep your bento box upright as it’s being carried.

3.    Get some fun accessories!  Cute picks, forks and cutters are certainly not a MUST when it comes to bento packing – but they do make it a lot more fun! 

Where Do You Get Your Supplies?

If you are lucky enough to live in a big bento city, like San Francisco, you may have a lot of local options!  I have found one store in my area that sells true bento supplies.  To find it, I just googled my city's name and "bento".  But, I have purchased most of my supplies online.  One of my favorite bento websites is www.allthingsforsale.com.  Another good site is www.jlist.com.

You can also think outside the bento box for bento supplies!  One of my favorite boxes to pack in is actually from Babies R Us!  You can also find a lot of great bento supplies (silicone cups, seasonal cupcake picks, cookie and fondant cutters) at your local Michael's, Jo Ann Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby -- Don't forget to take your coupon!!

Which Boxes Are You Packing In?

Sometimes it's difficult to tell which box I am using.  So, I'll try to remember to mention which box on each post.  Here is a picture each:
  1. Sassy On The Go Feeding Set
3.  Lovely Bento Box

4.  Happy Balloon 2-Tier Bento Box

5.  Disney's Ariel Bento Box
5.  Small Yellow Bento Box
6.  My latest addition...LunchBots Trio

 How Old Are Your Girls and Do They Actually Eat the Food You Pack?

My girls are 8 years old (3rd grade) and 6 years old (1st grade).   I am blessed that I have very good eaters.  I only pack foods they like (i.e. Haley never gets oranges in her lunch and Avery almost always has some form of PB&J) but luckily, they like a lot so that still leaves me with lots of options.  They almost always eat everything I pack.  When they don't, it's usually that they got too chatty during their lunch break and didn't have time to finish.   Even when that happens, my oldest will usually finish her lunch at the afternoon snack time.    The amount I pack seems to be just about perfect for their appetites.

12 comments:

  1. This is great info, Caren. Although my lunches are nowhere near as cute/fancy as yours, I thought of something that might be useful. If you're just starting out, you don't have to buy a "bento box." Other containers (Gladware) can work, too...but they have to be the right size (to fit the appropriate amount of food) and the right depth. You need to pack the box all the way up to the lid to prevent shifting! (my first try was in a box that was too deep and everything went everywhere, but you diagnosed the problem right away!

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  2. Good point Kim! The depth of your box is very important. The key to not having your food slip and slide is packing it to the brim.

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  3. Caren, Kim was a huge help to me. She directed me to the right box to minimize "spillage." I really have enjoyed your blog. I am a pretty "crafty" person but the food art is NOT one of the areas I excel in. However, I have gotten a bunch of fun ideas from your blog. Thanks!!! Aimee

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  4. I am really new to "bento" and I have a question. I've noticed you have cupcake holder-like dividers in some of your lunchboxes. Do they come with a particular box/brand or can I purchase them separately? Thanks!

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  5. Anna, the silicone cups are sold separately. You can buy them online and you can also find them in the cake decorating section at stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels Crafts. If you buy them there, look for a coupon!

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  6. how easy would these be for a 3 year old to open. i'm staring to pack bento style lunches for my 1st grader and want to do similar snacks for the preschooler... but some of these don't look easy to open. what might you recommend??? today i put her veggies and cheese in a sandwich box and ranch dip in a lil' tupperware.... not as fun or practical

    -darci

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  7. Darci, the sassy box, the "fuel" sandwich box, and the boxes with latches are pretty easy to use. The lid on the Trio is very tight so I would probably avoid that one and the Disney boxes are VERY difficult to use, so I would avoid those. Have fun!!

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  8. WOW, your blog is awesome! I hope to buy some supplies this weekend and make a bento lunch for my son on Monday! :) Wish me luck!

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  9. Meg, I'm so glad you like the blog! Good luck!! I'm sure you'll do great and your son will love it!

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  10. i loved to know how old your kids are and if they eat everything you pack for them on average. My child is 6.75 and I still have a hard time figuring out how much to pack. Can you draft a post addressing this perhaps?
    Much appreciated.
    cg

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  11. Do you pack your bentos the night before or in the morning? And, if you have ever packed in the evening, has anything ever spoiled (or dried out) by lunch time? Also, I use tupperware lunch-n-things so I only have to wash one piece - it is great! Your blog has inspired me to be more creative this year; thanks for sharing!

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  12. Barbara, I'm glad my blog has inspired you! I almost always pack my lunches the night before. I keep them in the fridge and they are perfectly fine the next day. The only exception to that is that if I'm using icing eyes, I don't put those on until the next morning because they tend to melt.

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