What are bento lunches?
Doesn't it take a lot of time?
Where do you buy the stuff?
How much does it cost?
They look so small; is it really enough food?
These are just some of the questions I have been asked since my kids started carrying bento lunches as opposed to the typical American sack lunch. Honestly, I was just getting irritated at packing their lunches every day and having them come home with a crushed sandwich with one bite taken out of it, an empty "junk food" wrapper, and a guilty admittance of throwing away the fruit or vegetable that I had included. School lunches weren't a much better option, and were a bit pricey when buying for four children... at $1.35 each, that adds up to $27 a week... and add in another $10 a week if they want to buy an orange juice to have with their lunch since they don't like the vanilla soy milk the school offers as a cow milk substitute (bottles of water are even more expensive at a shocking $1 each!). That is nearly $40 a week out of my food budget! I don't know about your budget, but that is quite a big chunk for me!
The other problem that I have with school lunches is the quality of the food that is being served. Like most schools, ours rely on frozen, processed, and often breaded "meat" products, a lot of fruit cocktail swimming in heavy syrup or applesauce sweetened with HFCS, and canned vegetables that I am sure are not the same no-sodium added kind that I buy. Since I only buy fresh meat, fresh fruit or fruit canned in 100% fruit juice, fresh/frozen/canned no-sodium vegetables, all natural applesauce and peanut butter, etc. for us to eat at home... why would I want my children to be served inferior quality foods five times a week at school?
If I look at next Friday's menu in our district?
CHEESY FRENCH BREAD
FRESH SALAD & RANCH
Okay - throw some nasty, preservative-filled frozen bread with a bunch of cheese gunk on it in the oven, rip open a big bag of that nutritient-void iceberg lettuce w/ shredded carrots and cabbage, provide one type of fatty chemical laden dressing, and open a can of fruit cocktail swimming in sugar. Yeah... healthy. And 2 of my 4 little ones wouldn't even EAT the salad, so exactly how nutritional would this lunch be for them?