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FAQs {part 1}... just in time for back to school!

Miss C is going back to school in 10 more sleeps. How can it be possible that my baby is 5 and going to Kindergarten... to the "big kid" school... on a "big kid" yellow bus. (Did you notice though that school buses are orange?)  Anyway, I thought I’d write a couple posts this week on how to get started, my favorite bento/lunch boxes and tools, and other tips. Today, I’ll focus on food.  In a couple days, I will show you my supplies and my favorite lunch making tools.

Hello Kitty lunch box
Q:  What kinds of food do you pack?

A: Anything! From sandwiches to leftovers, I pack pretty much whatever is on hand.  I use the USDA’s Choose MyPlate as a guideline on what to pack. I try to pack the 4 major nutrition blocks: protein, vegetables/fruits, carb/grains.  Sometimes, I add a treat like fruit snacks or candy. My child pretty much eats a variety of food, so I try to pack food that she has already tried and I know she likes. I don’t put something she hasn’t tried yet with her lunch, we try to introduce new foods during dinner, when I can encourage her to try.

Lock & Lock divided container
I have not gotten the allergy/lunch guidelines at her new school for kindergarten, but with her preschool last year, they had a nut-free policy. Check on your school policy regarding allergies, and I encourage you to please follow those guidelines. I know it’s a challenge when your child loves peanut butter and refuses to eat substitutes, but I think of the other child’s life and health. Allergy reactions can be mild or life-threatening, so please keep an open mind and follow your school’s allergy guidelines, whether for your own child’s lunch or special classroom treats. My friend, Keeley of keeleymcguire.com, has a daughter who is allergic to gluten and nuts, so check out her site for allergy-friendly ideas.

Sunbuttersandwich on a 2-tier lunch box 
Q: How do you think of cute ideas to shape or arrange the food?

A: I don’t typically make character foods. Once in a while, I will get inspired by something Miss C watch, an upcoming holiday or a Bento Blogger (a network of my bento-blogging friends) themed blog-hop.  A simpler way to explain “bento” is arranged lunches in a box. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you make it. You can use divided boxes, silicone cups or small containers to divide. Sandwiches are pretty easy to cut with cutters. Cut up vegetables in similar shapes. Arrange crackers or cheese in rows or stacks. Use mini skewers or food picks to make kabobs of fruit, or meat/cheese, or even meatballs and tortellini! If you choose, you can draw or paint on the sandwiches with edible markers, shape and mold rice or mashed potatoes. You can even mold eggs!

Star Wars Bento Bloghop in an EasyLunchBox container
(May the 4th be with you)

I invited my other bento friends who have written and posted ideas on how to get started bento-ing (is that a word?) to add their links below! Check them out and get inspired!

Q: When do you find the time to make lunches?

A: I tend to do procrastinate (this post was supposed to happen 4-6 weeks ago). It is a bad habit, I know. I try to make lists and menus. And while I try to make lists and menus, I tend to deviate from them a lot, depending on my mood, Miss C’s mood, or what food we have in the fridge.  

2-tiered bento box with "Gogurt" in silicone ice pop mold
 This was our morning routine last year (which will probably be similar to kindergarten this year): 
- Wake up, shower/dress, (get myself ready for work,) 15-60 min 
[depending on how many times I push the snooze button]
- Wake up Miss C, get her dressed and ready, 10 min if she’s in a good mood.
(she can do this herself now, so I’d free up more time to get our breakfast ready,) 
- Miss C eats breakfast while I prepare lunch, 15-20 minutes. 
- Take pictures of lunch, pack up and leave. 5-10 minutes.

(To be honest, I leave the kitchen a mess until my husband comes home 

and washes the dishes in the afternoon. I love that man!)

There are times when I pack our lunches the night before. Usually, if we have great leftovers and I don’t necessarily have to “pretty it up”, I grab the EasyLunchboxes and store the leftovers on those, leaving the other compartments empty to for me to put fruit/vegs/etc the next day.
Mommy's leftovers in an EasyLunchbox 

Q: Why do you do this?

A: “Mommy, that is AWESOME!!! Thank you so much! I love you, too!” That pretty much sums it up… We all have different ways to show love to our children.  This is my way, I guess. My gift to my child that I can actually do.  I have friends that sing to their children or teach them music. I can’t sing (well, I can, but not well) to my child. I have friends that are very animated and are great story tellers. I can’t make fun voices when I read to her. I have friends that sew cute dresses or costumes and make bows. I can’t sew a button. I work full time, so I can’t be home to make certain memories with her that my other stay-at-home mom friends do.  I’m not comparing myself with my friends and their gifts. “Playing with food” is what I love to do. And every single lunch box is packed with love. :)


P.S. Did you notice the new blog redesign by my friend Shalon of Pretty LovelyDesign! Check her out! She’s kinda awesome! Thank you so much, Shalon, for the logo, for the blog, for your patience w/my pickiness, for everything!
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Comments

  1. The blog looks awesome! And thanks for the tips. I especially love the part at the very end, "I'm not comparing myself to my friends and their gifts" Just doing what you love! A lesson in bento and character development all-in-one! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your new blog design looks awesome!! Love all your ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love your new blog design!!! It looks awesome :)

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  4. LOVE the blog redesign!! 100 million times over love it :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOOOOOOVVVEE the new design! WOW! Very very cool!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your new blog design rocks! I absolutely love it.

    ReplyDelete

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