Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bento Box Lunches

You can tell it is back to school time, I am hitting Pinterest - a lot.

My newest interest in the land of Pinterest is the idea of using the Bento Box idea for lunches.  Bento Boxes are traditionally used for Japanese lunches.  They are compartmentalized so there is a spot for rice and a spot for the fish and a spot for the veggies.  It has been adopted by moms all over for cute, adorable lunches.   They fit my reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy for lunch boxes, we try to limit the amount that the kids toss each day.  The keep the applesauce from soaking the PB&J, the dip from tainting the grapes...you get the idea.  Keeps the cross-contamination at bay.  One lid - one box.  As opposed to a lid/box for the sammich, for the applesauce, for the carrots, for the dip, for the apple slices...it is a nightmare and I have the cabinet to prove it.

From Nina, a military mom of 4 at Mommabelly.com
Now, from the truth and accuracy department, mine, will never look this adorable.  If I am taking time, before football and after mass to make 20 lunches, chances are the cookie cutters are not coming out for the sandwiches.  I'm probably also not going to fashion  Hello Kitty out of salami and whatever else concoction is there.  Nor will I probably be digging out all of the letters from each of their names for the alphabet Cheese It piles. I know, I know.  I will never win mom of the year this way, but some how, I will soldier on.
http://happylittlebento.blogspot.com/2012/03/hello-kitty-pizzawiches-bento.html
The idea in and of itself is perfect for my three youngest, who are always leaving food in the lunchboxes...ummm...it is SO gross at some points.  This box system allows me to control their portions to alleviate how much gets tossed, without having to go through a million bazillion pieces o' tupperware, hoping to find a lid that matches a container. (Okay, maybe million bazillion is a bit of an exaggeration, but thousands upon thousands really doesn't like much of a stretch.  I don't know where they actually go!) I can send dip for the carrots and cucumbers, without an issue.  Toss in a handful of silicone muffin wrappers to the mix and you have some nice accent pieces, that keep the dreaded touching food from occurring.  It allows me to buy in larger quantities, as opposed to individual sized portions - keeping costs and trash additions down.   It is definitely something that is do-able.

So, I started researching boxes.  You would be AMAZED at how many options there are for the pre-school crowd.  I have CLEARLY been a slacker mom for the last decade plus.  It is a wonder my kids actually show their faces in public.  And I nearly choked on my Cocoa Puffs when I saw the price for some of them.  Really?? $28 for a toddler's piece of lunch ware??  I'm thinking, not so much.  That is $116 - for one day's worth of resealable lunch containers. $580 so I can make all the lunches in one day??  Yeah, I can hire a chef to do it for that price!  So I started looking at other options.  

Some a stainless steel, some have individual components that you assemble inside a box, some are cute anime themed boxes, some have ice packs...all of them were making my head hurt.  I am going to have to invest in new lunchboxes for this to work (our current lunch boxes are the bag shaped collapsible kind - bento boxes will never fit), so the pricier pieces are off the table.  It needs to be something where I can afford TWENTY of them.  I have found that I am at my most efficient when I do not have to worry about things on a school morning.  And so the digging began...

My requirements - 

  • Two piece sets - lid and container.  That's it.  If I wanted to do the component pieces into a bigger box, I would keep doing what I am already doing.
  • Dishwasher safe - They MUST be able to go into the dishwasher.  Football is here, fall soccer will be starting, D wants to try judo...there is just no time for me to wash more things by hand.
  • Affordability - I have to be able to buy 20+ (if I want some on standby) without having to take out a home equity loan or sell my first-born child.  I have to be able to make 20 lunches on Sunday, plain and simple.

Here are the two most feasible options for us at this moment in time.  


  1. EasyLunchboxes - three compartment, 2 piece sets (4 sets per order).  Mommies seem to like them.  Sturdy, kids can get the lids off.  They would cost around $70 for me to get 5 sets.
  2. Ziploc Divided Containers, rectangle - three compartment, 2 piece sets (2 per order).  Free shipping and coupons from drugstore.com allows me to get 5 days worth, plus 2 in reserve for less than $45.  Complaints seem to come from mommies of preschool kids, mine are all school aged. They can open the Ziploc containers we currently have on hand, I don't see why these will be any different. 
I think I am going with the Ziploc.  If they break or get lost, I am out $1.75.  If they make it through the school year, I got my money's worth out of it.  With school just a few weeks away, I will definitely let you know how it goes.  Feel free to share those pearls of wisdom and experiences with me!

Happy Wednesday!  Spend some time playing with those muppets and bonding with that fireman.  They are all kinda cute, in their own way...


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