Last week was a big week for us — Augie started after school care three days per week! He’s been on the waiting list since before school started and I was beginning to think he would never get into day care but it finally happened! He’ll be going Monday, Wednesday and Friday and that means I need to start packing him proper lunches for those days instead of just little snack bentos. Yay! Last week was also fun because I made a bunch of Halloween bentos. Some of them were the lazy-woman’s version of a Halloween lunch because I was adjusting to packing two lunches again, but my kids don’t care and I’m happy with them too, so it’s all good!

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Monday

Lazy Halloween lunch for a big kid

I found some cute Halloween rings at the drug store over the weekend, so I popped them into the kids lunches on Monday morning. Wyatt’s lunch was packed in our Yumbox Panino. He had turkey meatballs (with skull and spider mummy on top), white cheddar popcorn, radishes, carrots, black bean dip and strawberries.

Lazy Halloween Yumbox

It was a double-Yumbox day with Augie’s lunch packed in our original box. He had grapes, carrots, sugar snap peas, hummus, strawberries, cheese popcorn and meatballs. I also decorated his lunch with Halloween rings.

Tuesday

Happy ham and cheese pita lunch

Wyatt took the Yumbox Panino again on Tuesday. This time he had a happy ham and cheese pita (the eyes were picks, the mouth a thin slice of radish) along with grapes, Halloween Joe-Joe’s popcorn, bean dip, radishes and carrots.

Popcorn, cukes and grapes snack

For his snack, Augie had cucumbers, grapes on a jack-o-lantern pick, and popcorn with sprinkles. Technically, he wasn’t supposed to have the sprinkles because of the “no sugar” rule in his classroom but I honestly forgot about it until it was too late. This was packed in our Steeltainer snack-size box.

Wednesday

This and That lunch for a 5th grader

On Wednesday, Wyatt had a hodge-podge lunch: leftover chicken taco meat from dinner the night before, popcorn, cookies, radishes and carrots (look carefully!), bean dip and apple chunks. This was packed in a Laptop Lunches box and I also included a Lego fork to eat the taco meat.

This and that kindergarten Laptop Lunches bento

Augie also used a Laptop Lunches box. He had popcorn, cookies, sliced olives with a piece of kitty baran for decoration, cukes, snap peas and leftover chicken from our taco dinner the night before.  I included a Lego fork in this lunch box too.

Silly vampire cracker snack

Augie still needs a snack for his kindergarten hours and so I made him this little crackers and ham cutie. The top cracker was decorated with icing googly eyes and a black food-safe marker to make a cute vampire and I poked some of the ham onto a jack-o-lantern pick.

Thursday

Frankenstein Quesadilla Lunch

Thursday Wyatt took our new Fit & Fresh bento lunch kit out for a spin. Fit & Fresh sent me the kit so we could try it out and so far (after a single use) I am liking it pretty well. He had apple chunks, a pork and cheese quesadilla that I decorated with a food-safe marker to look like Frankenstein’s monster, strawberries with a skeleton hand decorations, and buffalo cheddar popcorn with a skull pick stuck in it.

Skeleton Stawberries and Spider Popcorn

Augie had strawberries with a skeleton decoration and popcorn with a spider ring for his snack.

Friday

Monster Mouth EasyLunchboxes bento

Hee hee! I love these lunches! Both kids got a sunbutter and jelly sandwich with eye picks and fake vampire teeth stuck in them. And they made us all laugh and laugh. In addition to the sandwich, Wyatt had carrots, radishes, buffalo cheddar popcorn and some Halloween Joe-Joes.  This was packed in an EasyLunchboxes bento box.

Vampire sandwich EasyLunchboxes bento

Augie also had a sunbutter and jelly sandwich with eye picks and fake vampire teeth stuck in it. For sides, he had Halloween Joe-Joes and cucumber slices with a Frankenstein pick in it.  This was also packed in an EasyLunchboxes bento box.

And for the final snack of the week, Augie had apple chunks and and “cherry” tomatoes (use this pick to achieve full cherry-osity).

A week of fun Halloween lunches
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A few ideas for getting more vegetables into kids' diets

OK guys — let’s talk about vegetables. Let’s talk about how important they are for a healthy diet and some ways we can get our kids (and ourselves) to actually put them in their mouths, chew them up and swallow them.

Did you know that, according to The State Of The Plate report, 9 out of 10 people in the United States do not eat the proper amount of vegetables? I’m certain my kids are members of that large majority and I’m afraid that most days I am too.

But I am fighting the good fight! I know it’s important to to find ways my boys can enjoy vegetables now so that they will learn to love them and become life-long veggie eaters. Because of this, I’m constantly looking for fresh ways to add them to our plates. Today I’m teaming up with Birds Eye to bring you some ideas for incorporating more vegetables into your family’s diet. In turn, Birds Eye is working with Melissa d’Arabian, chef, mom of four, and host of FoodNetwork.com’s web series The Picky Eaters Project, to give parents lots of tips. This video in particular really spoke to me:

I liked Melissa’s idea to pair vegetables with dishes my kids already like and as I watched the video I realized that this is a technique I’ve had a lot of success with myself without being conscious of it.

Here are three ways I encourage my kids to eat more vegetables:

Add Veggies to Tacos:

My kids will eat anything if I wrap it in a tortilla. Seriously.

Recently, our family decided that we should have a weekly taco night. We all love tacos, there is endless variety in the types of tacos I can make and they are almost always really fast and easy to put together. For classic tacos I like to mix a bag of Birds Eye Ultimate Southwest Blend into ground beef or turkey. The package includes corn, black beans, poblanos, red bell peppers and onions. I was a little worried that  my kids might balk at the peppers, but after they ate this meal repeatedly with no complaints I realized that they will eat just about anything at all if I wrap it in a tortilla and call it a taco. Bonus: in addition to the vegetables in the meat, they are surprisingly willing to top their tacos with all sorts of different things: lettuce, tomato, avocado, olives — they’ll even add cabbage to fish tacos sometimes when the stars align.

Veggie Up Soup:

Dude! Kids will totally eat veggies when you put them in soup. (Except when they won't.)

Another place I like to add lots of vegetables? Soup! Last week I made a super simple chicken and rice soup by combining diced rotisserie chicken, 2 quarts of chicken broth, a bag of pre-cooked frozen rice and a bag of Birds Eye Classic Mixed Vegetables (corn, peas, carrots and green beans). I just dumped them all in a pan together and heated the mixture all the way through. The whole process took less than 15 minutes from start to finish and was shocked by how much the boys liked the dish. My 10 year old even told me “You’ll have to make this recipe again because it is a hit!”

For a fast lunch, I sometimes streamline this idea even further by adding a couple handfuls of the mixed veggies to a can of soup. I’ve done this for so long that they wonder why the soup looks different when I leave the veggies out!

Make the Vegetables the Dip:

What if your kids don't like ranch dressing? Try having them dip in salsa, hummus or bean dip!

You know that ubiquitous advice to increase your kids’ vegetable consumption by giving them ranch dressing to dip it in? Well, it doesn’t work on my kids. I apparently have the only two children in the United States who think ranch dressing is disgusting. BUT, they do like to dip veggies in salsa and hummus!  Those two dips for veggies are actually MADE of veggies. How sneaky is that?

I’ve also found that if I suggest vegetables and dip when my kids ask for a snack they resist eating them, but if I have a plate of raw vegetables out and waiting on the kitchen table when they come home from school they start eating them with no comment. I’m not sure what the psychology behind this phenomenon is, but I just roll with it.

How do you encourage your children to eat more vegetables?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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The Week in Bentos: October 13-17, 2014

October 20, 2014

I can tell that the days are starting to cool off because I’ve started packing — and Wyatt has started requesting — warm dishes in the thermos for his lunches. This week, three of the four lunches I packed him used a thermos! And good news — he’s waaaaaay more likely to eat these hot […]

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Cute Halloween Bento Box/Creepy Halloween Bento Box

October 15, 2014

I think we all know how much I love Halloween lunches. I mean, I really love making Halloween lunches for my kids! I have tons of equipment and there are so many fun ideas around that I love to start cranking them out as soon as October starts. Still, I sometimes have a bit of […]

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The Week in Bentos: October 6-10, 2014

October 13, 2014

Hey Lunch Packers! Are you ready? I have another week of real-life lunches for you to peruse. Check it out: This post contains affiliate links. Monday Wyatt started the week off with a back-to-basics Laptop Lunches bento. He had granny smith apple slices, white cheddar popcorn, cherry tomatoes and a sunbutter and jelly sandwich on […]

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The Week in Bentos: September 29 – October 3, 2014

October 6, 2014

Last week’s lunches were…interesting. I never managed to do a big shop — just a few little ones — so I felt like I was pulling lunches and snacks for the kids out of the air practically every day. Even so I managed to get food in boxes every day, so I guess things weren’t […]

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