Cutie Bear Bento Lunch -- I love all the girly touches!

As the mom of two boys, I don’t get a lot of chances to make girly-girl lunches and sometimes — every now and then — that makes me sad. Like kids clothes and scrapbook supplies, it seems like bento manufacturers create waaaaay more products that are targeted at girls than they do for boys. Despite the fact that my kids wore pink pajamas and played with tea sets and dolls when they were younger, they both began adhering to strict gender norms when they entered elementary school and now the color pink is strictly forbidden in their lunch boxes. Boo hoo for me!

I happen to like pink a lot though and I also enjoy hearts and bows, so on a whim I decided to make myself a girly-girl lunch last week. Basically, I just pulled every bento tool my kids won’t let me use on their lunches out of my supply stash and I went to town. I started by adding slices of a Cara Cara orange which is supposed to be kind of pink-ish inside. (Yeah, I dunno…maybe.) I also filled a small container with some Eat Well Embrace Life beet hummus. I was sent a sample of this hummus and I love it. It’s a little sweeter than normal hummus and it doesn’t have that strong cumin flavor that so many store-bought hummuses (hummi?) have. Also, it is the most gorgeous pink color I’ve ever seen. It’s like fairy princess hummus. Next up: snap peas and cauliflower with every pink pick I could find jabbed into them. There were flowers and jewels. It was glorious. Finally, I made a cute little bear sandwich filled with tuna salad using my CuteZCute Cuddle Palz set. I put another pink bow pick on top of her head and I gave her a thin slice of radish cut into a heart shape to hold. Unfortunately, I realize now that I forgot to give her hands to hold the heart. Sorry, cute bear sandwich…

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Wyatt's 1000th Bento Lunch!

This morning I packed Wyatt’s 1000th bento box lunch!

1000 lunches packed with love, fruit, salami, dinner rolls, a ridiculous number of strawberries and probably approximately 40 pounds of carrots that were never eaten!

In honor of this occasion, Wyatt and I put our heads together and came up with a celebratory lunch this morning. If I’d planned a little in advance I would have hit the store last night and picked up some of his favorites, but I didn’t give it that much forethought so we pulled this together with items we had on hand.

Wyatt chose our red Yumbox Panino because red is his favorite color. He wanted a bagel and cream cheese in his lunch so I made that and then cut “1000” from slices of Monterey jack cheese that I “glued” to the top of the bagel with a little cream cheese spread on the back. Wyatt spotted the Facebook thumbs-up in the cutter set I was using and asked me to add that too. Below that is a silicone cup filled with sugar snap peas. I layered a carrot stick and three little meatballs on top to include another “1000”. I also chopped up an apple and carved “1K” in that with a  U-shaped carving knife. The last two sections were filled with savory rice crackers and peppermint mini marshmallows.

In honor of this milestone, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite lunches I’ve packed for my boy throughout the years.

Wyatt's first bento box

Let’s start at the beginning with wbento001! If you’re wondering how I know that today’s bento box was #1000, this is why: I was a web developer back in the olden days, and part of my job was to come up with logical naming conventions for photos (and other files) that were used on the web sites I built. So, from day one I named Wyatt’s bento boxes as wbento001, wbento002, … etc. right on up to the file I renamed this morning: wbento1000. (If you’re curious, Augie’s are abento[number] and bentos I pack for myself are bento[number].)

Anyway, the first bento I ever packed for Wyatt was made for his first day of preschool when he was 3-years-old. He had strawberries, pieces of plain white bread, Cheez-its, two pieces of Laughing Cow cheese and deli ham and cheese roll-ups. Dang! That’s a lot of cheese! I packed way too much food for him the first week or so I did this, until his preschool teacher suggested I cut the amount I sent in half.

Wyatts favorite bento: salami, strawberries and a bun.

Wyatt’s all time favorite things to have in his lunch are salami, strawberries and a dinner roll. This early lunch is a perfect specimen! You can see many more lunches with strawberries, buns and salami in the gallery.

Preschooler bento with berries, turkey and banana bread

I love the way this lunch looks with the frosty berries, turkey roll-ups and a piece of banana bread. Simple, but pretty!

Berries, pretzel thins and salami for a preschooler

This bento is notable because it was one of the first ones that inspired a critical comment! Some person on Flickr said, “Hmm. Do you think there might be just a little too much salt in here, especially for a preschooler? I mean, salami and pretzels?” Probably true, but she could have just kept it to herself. (Believe me, there have been many more — much meaner — since then!) I was especially upset by it because I read it while I was in labor for Augie. Good times!

Breakfast bento for a preschooler

This breakfast for lunch bento is one of my all-time favorites: leftover pancakes cut in half and stacked on one side of the box, a little dude cut from fruit leather, frozen blueberries in a heart-shaped silicone baking cup, pieces of chicken apple sausage and a small container of syrup.

Christmas in July Bento Box

I packed this Christmas lunch for Wyatt in July and we both were super amused by it! It had baked tofu cut and decorated with food-safe markers to look like candy canes, garlic toast cut with a christmas tree cutter and some grapes (under the toast). I used to pack baked teriyaki tofu for the kids all the time, but they’re sort of off it now. Maybe I should buy some and see it they like it again soon.

When Wyatt was in kindergarten and first learning to read, I used to write messages on his bread with food markers all the time. This one said “You eat buns.” Hee hee!

My all time favorite bento box for Wyatt!

Let’s wrap things up with my all-time favorite bento I have ever packed for Wyatt! This little beauty had it all: rice balls with cute faces made from nori cut-outs, sprinkles on the peaches, and tofu with Wyatt’s name spelled out with a little heart! (It also had clementines, pretzels and dried cranberries.) I was SO PROUD of this lunch (and I still am) and I couldn’t wait for him to open it up at lunch time and see all the love and care that I had poured into it. I knew his eyes would light up and he would smile beatifically as he glowed from his mother’s love.

Beautiful, adorable bento box: decimated!

And this is what came home.

To quote my original post about this lunch:

“The rice balls…they…um…what the hell did he do to them? None of them looked like they even had a nibble taken out of them. So what’s up with the faces? Did he just scrape random facial features off? Why would he do that? I’m baffled. Anyway, this just goes to show that no matter what you do to a lunch, you can’t make a five-year-old eat anything he doesn’t want to eat.”

And five years later I’ve learned that you can’t make a 10-year-old eat anything he doesn’t want to eat either!

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Looking back at 2014, Looking forward to 2015

January 5, 2015

Happy new year! I hope you had a fun, restful, and joyful holiday season. I’m excited to start a new year and I’ve been enjoying looking back on the year that has just passed. To wrap up 2014, I made a video showing all of the 365 bento boxes I packed throughout the year. (No, […]

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Two Weeks in Bento (Sorta): December 1-12, 2014

December 15, 2014

Whoa! I had a major screw-up with my bento photos this last couple of weeks! I took a trip to visit my parents AND I cleared a bunch of stuff off my laptop and in the process I managed to delete most of the lunch photos I took in the last two weeks. [Insert forehead […]

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12 Ideas for Fun Christmas Lunches

December 1, 2014

December is finally here and that means it’s a special time here at Wendolonia! What time is it? It’s time for fun Christmas lunches! I’ve pulled together twelve ideas for you to put into Christmas bento boxes or to serve up on plates. Most are super simple though a few require some equipment you probably […]

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The Week in Bentos: November 24-25, 2014

November 26, 2014

I’ve got a short and sweet little lunch round-up for you today. The kids are off school for the rest of the week, so I’m going to share Monday and Tuesday’s lunches for you today and spend the rest of the week relaxing with the family. But stay tuned: I’ve got a fun post coming […]

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