FAQs {Part 2}... My bento supplies and tools

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Last year, I started out with only a couple boxes and cookie cutters. My first lunch looked kinda plain. As the year progressed, our lunch/bento collection started growing. I started following other bloggers and gave me ideas on what other products are out there. Then I found All Things For Sale... like a kid in a candy store...

Q(s): What do you use for packing lunches? How do you organize/where do you store them? 

A: At first, our lunch supplies fit into a little cupboard in our kitchen. Then our collection just grew astronomically that I used one of those big Sterilite plastic tubs. Last weekend, my husband put together this cabinet/drawer combo specifically for our lunch stuff! (I love that guy!) 
The pictures on the left show most of the lunch boxes we have.
 As for the tools I use, I pretty much use anything in my kitchen. I use sandwich cutter, my cookie and fondant cutters from my cake decorating supplies, molds, chopsticks, toothpicks, and many more. I'll pick my favorite supplies and feature them below.
Upper left: lunch bags including EasyLunchBox  Cooler Bag, Thirty One Thermal Tote and Cinch-It-Up Thermal Tote and Miss C's Hello Kitty Lunch Boxes. Upper right: egg molds, rice molds. Lower right: Sandwich cutters, mini cutters, silicone ice pop molds, containers cups. Lower left: picks and misc bento supplies, napkins (paper and reusable), stickers  
My favorite supplies: 

1. EasyLunchBoxes

Hands down my favorite purchase last year. I've been using them for 7 months and have are the same quality as when I bought them. They have not warped or stained or discolored. We use them at least 3-4 times a week. The divided compartments allow me to easily divide food so they won't touch. The Wilton silicone cups fit in the container with the lid on. The containers are not leak-proof, but I have put yogurt and applesauce in them without it spilling, but Miss C was pretty good about keeping her cooler bag upright most of the time. This was easier for her to open compared to the disposable like product. 

2. Cutters
The one shown above is my favorite for vegetables and fruits.  Knives, sandwich cutters, cookie cutters, sandwich cutters -- if it can cut or shape a food or a sandwich, try it! You don't need anything fancy. They have sandwich cutters hanging near the bread aisle at most grocery stores and at dollar stores. I've taken heart or Christmas tree cookie cutters from my baking supplies and used them to shape sandwiches. I think to start out with, I would recommend getting the Wilton 100 cookie set. It has letters, numbers, basic shapes and most generic holiday cutters.

3. Picks and Decor

I highly recommend AllThingsForSale for all your bento/cutesy lunch decor needs.
This is where the fun starts. Use picks to make fruit or meat/cheese kabobs. A boring leftover spaghetti lunch? Stick a cute elephant pick on top to make it more lively! (make sure your kids understand to take them off but don't throw them away! haha!) 

4. Silicone Cups

These cups not only divide food too keep it from touching, they also add a pop of color. 

Q: What do you use to keep hot lunches hot and cold lunches cold?

A: Most of my lunches are leftovers, and we have a microwave at work; that's why I use ELBs the most. Most of Miss C's lunches are cold--I have more flexibility with other bento boxes. 4 out of 5 lunch bags we have are thermal lined. I use ice packs for C's lunch and it keeps them cold until lunch. I have several types of ice packs, flat ones, round ones, shaped ones and I choose depending on the space in bags. (Hint: If you put the ThirtyOne bags in the freezer or refrigerator, it keeps cold longer) I have a couple Thermos-like containers that I use for hot lunches.

Q: Where do you buy your supplies?

A: Everywhere! Online, in stores, garage sales... Here is a list of stores I have found bento/lunch supplies
Target (check the Dollar bins near the entrance for cute stuff!)
Walmart (I've found some Lock/Lock-type containers in the kitchen section)
TJ Maxx
Dollar Tree 
Family Dollar/Dollar General
Daiso (I've never been there, but I have friends and family in California that has generously bought and shipped me some goodies!)
Michael's (check the baking section for picks/baking cups)
Old Navy (they sometimes have lunch boxes and bags near the cashier area)

Tomorrow morning is Miss C's first day of school! It is a little weird to start on a Friday, but it is what it is. Backpack is packed up, clothes are laid out, bento lunch supplies are organized and put away, ingredients are in the fridge, Miss C is (finally) asleep... Kindergarten, here we go! 


Jenn @ BentoForKidlet said...

Awesome! I love your bento cabinet :D

JeeJee Bento said...

Looove it.. nice information :)

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