Thursday, August 26, 2010

So, what's with all the bento stuff? Part 1

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?
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?


Tawny said...

I think the bento lunches are the way to go. You're correct, the lunch the schools offer sounds horrific. And nothing about it teaches a child to eat healthy and respect their bodies. The bento lunch is fun and a novelty that will hopefully teach your children (and the ones around them) good nutrition. Keep up the great work!

DarcyLee said...

Did you see Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? It really opened my eyes to what our kids eat everyday for their school lunches and sometimes breakfast. I love the ideas you have for your kids' lunches. Great series!

Anonymous said...

I'm still stuck on the $1.35 lunch... it's $2.85 each here and I have 5 kids! And you're right, it's for crap food!

Dani said...

I'm with you. And though my kids aren't in school, I am still planning to do the bento thing for their lunches when the new baby comes because we'll be home more and it will make life easier. I can make everyone's lunches before I go to bed and stick them in the fridge. We can do school work and lunch is quick and easy because it's already made!