Monday, August 30, 2010

Bento #6 - Or what to do when your fridge dies.

Sunday morning, I went to get a glass of water from the fridge... and my water was warm. Because I didn't want to stock the fridge with food that might spoil, I knew I wouldn't be able to buy lunchmeat, eggs, chicken, or some of the other items that I was planning to put in the kids (and hubby's!) lunches this week until I knew the fridge would be working properly.

So, what did we end up with? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on toasted whole-wheat white bread, peas and corn (from the freezer), grapes, banana chocolate-chip muffins (from the freezer), and trailmix for the older 2 girls. Each kid also packed a granola bar for recess snack time, since their lunch schedules got rearranged this year and some of them aren't eating until NOON (after having breakfast at 7am at home!)

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What was wrong with the fridge? The coils in the freezer were completely frosted over and there was no flow of cold air going into the fridge half of the unit. My husband and teen took everything out of the freezer, removed the back panel, and were able to defrost the coils using my hair dryer... so for now, the fridge is staying cooler... But I'm still nervous about buying things that might spoil. Tuna casserole for dinner anyone??

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bento #5

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Contents:
Mini cinnamon bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jelly. Hardboiled egg. Edamame. Pretzels, Baby carrots.
Fruit salad with strawberries, cantaloupe, and grapes.
One half of a strawberry cereal bar added to both Sabrina and Abbi's bentos.

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?
CHEESY FRENCH BREAD
FRESH SALAD & RANCH
FRUIT MIX
MILK-VARIETY
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?

Bento #4

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Mini cinnamon bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jelly. Bologna and cheddar, edamame. Canteloupe and strawberries. Pretzel sticks, 1/2 granola bar, trailmix.
Ceci's also had some grapes and 2 cherry tomatoes (she has claimed all of the cherry tomatoes in our garden as hers, and hers alone). And Niko had a little dried pineapple mixed in to his trail mix... yet I forgot to put edamame in his lunch. I was tired this morning when I was packing and taking pictures.
I used a little plastic wrap to try to keep Ceci and Niko's dry snacks dry so they wouldn't get soggy from the fruit since I didn't have big enough silicone cups to hold all of the goodies. I used Glad's PressNSeal to do the same for the cups in Brina and Abbi's boxes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bento #3

I prepped these boxes all tonight, so I can just pop them out of the fridge and in to the lunch bags in the morning.

Bento #3

Wednesday's bento includes: turkey and cheese wraps with cream cheese (lettuce for Abbi and Ceci, none for Brina and Niko). Edamame and carrot sticks. A few cheese cubes for Ceci and Niko. A mini banana-chocolate chip muffin. Strawberry, with grapes added for Brina and Abbi. Mini teddy bear cookies. Cantaloupe.

Just for cuteness sake, I made little teddy bears out of american cheese (used mini cookie cutters we have from Michael's - 4 teddy bears from one slice of cheese, "glued" in place with a smear of cream cheese.

Our cute little picks come from Nijiya Supermarket and the kids are loooooving them!

Bento #2

Day 2, Bento #2...

Last night I hardboiled some eggs and put them in egg molds. Unfortunately, the bunny face one for Ceci's lunch got stuck in the mold and fell apart... so, we improvised a bit and she took an egg salad wrap with a flour tortilla.

Other components of today's bentos: kidney beans, shelled edamame, carrot sticks, banana chocolate-chip muffins, cheese, strawberries, grapes, and the same "Indulgent Trail Mix" from yesterday.

Bento #2

A close-up of the bear egg from Niko's lunch, with the contrast adjusted so you can see the details more clearly:
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Bento #1

The 4 little ones started back at school this morning. Here are the bentos that I packed for them:

Bento #1

Each one contains: Mini cinnamon bagel with cream cheese & grape jelly. Smoked turkey roll ups. Grapes and a strawberry. Edamame. Trail mix with almonds, peanuts, cashews, white chocolate drops, chocolate drops, peanut butter drops, golden raisins, and cranberries.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why?

Why do they make pudding cups so small?

Friday, August 6, 2010

How we pack!

Summer is insanely busy, of course, not leaving much time for blogging when it's so much quicker to post a little cute comment or something on Facebook. However, I thought I should share with you a packing tip that has helped immensely...

Ziploc bags!!

I started packing each day's worth of clothes in seperate bags for the little ones when they were all small toddlers sharing one suitcase. It makes getting dressed a snap, and keeps their bags so much neater. Since you can put the dirty clothes in the empty bags at the end of the day, it also helps cut down on that "dirty laundry" smell that can become stomach-turning by the end of the week.

Packing for camp!

These are the bags that my girls and I packed for our upcoming camping trip. Each one is labeled with the name and the day they're going to wear that outfit. Each bag contains a complete outfit for the day - shirt, bermuda shorts, underwear, and socks. We finish filling their bags with a few extra pairs of socks and underwear, pajamas, a pair of jeans for cold evenings and chilly mornings, a sweatshirt, and a swimsuit.

Now, if you'll excuse me... I have to go pack Niko's bag still!