The Week in Bentos: September 26-30, 2011

by Wendy Copley on September 30, 2011

Phwew! We’ve had a busy week with a sick boy, planning for Wyatt’s birthday party this weekend and a big (positive) change in our lives. I’ve barely been keeping up with everything! The kids still need to eat every day though, so I still need to keep making the lunches.


2nd Grader Bento #488

Wyatt’s lunch had knock-off Ritz crackers, two wedges of Laughing cow cheese, a slice of pumpkin cake made from this incredible recipe, strawberries and salami and cheese Boba Fett sandwiches.


Preschooler Bento #153

On Tuesday, Augie had strawberries and grapes, fake Ritz crackers, soy cheese rockets and low-fat salami.

Wyatt stayed home sick with a cold.


Preschooler Bento #154

Augie’s lunch for preschool was grapes, chicken shu mai dumplings, and leftover pasta.

Wyatt had school lunch. He didn’t have school lunch because we looked at the menu together and decided that it could be his one school lunch of the week. He had school lunch because I gave up. Since school started he has gotten pickier and pickier about his food and it’s really starting to wear on me. I’ve shown you a few pictures of the lunches that come home so you have an idea about how little lunch he is eating, but what you aren’t seeing is breakfast and dinner. You see, I try to only pack things I know he will eat for lunch to increase the odds that he’ll get some calories in the day and I save my efforts to get him to eat a wider variety of food for the meals where he is at home. Those meals at home are going really poorly. As of today, the only vegetable he reliably eats is corn. No peas. No tomatoes. He complains bitterly about spaghetti sauce. Even fruit is a hard sell at the moment. He’ll eat apples, pears, berries and cantaloup, but that’s all. He whines when I serve rice with dinner. It’s incredibly frustrating and it reminds me of how things were when he was 3 or 4 years old.

On Wednesday when I was packing his lunch, I kept asking if he would eat different things we had in the refrigerator and he kept saying, “No. No. No.” Finally I just threw up my hands (literally and metaphorically) and sent him off to school with instructions to buy a crappy, over-processed lunch.

I’m telling you all this because I want you to know that my kids don’t eat everything I give them.  They are picky and though I try not to get worked up, we have food battles sometimes. My feelings get hurt when I make them something I’m sure they’ll like –especially when I go to extra effort to make it cute — and they tell me it’s yucky. Things are not all sunshine and roses around here and I get crazy and extremely frustrated by their behavior just like every other parent! But I keep plugging away, doing the best I can to offer them nutritious, whole foods. I don’t always manage it and I make compromises sometimes, but I’m trying to do right by my kids. I’m just like you.


Anyhoo, I got back my determination (and took a trip to the grocery store for more lunch provisions) and I managed to make some fun lunches on Thursday.

Preschooler Bento #155

Augie had cantaloup chunks, grape tomatoes, pretzels, strawberries and tiny PB&J’s made with this crazy punch. I’ll try to do a whole post about this punch soon, but for now I’ll say that it’s time-consuming, expensive, wastes bread and makes the cutest freaking sandwiches I’ve ever seen.

2nd Grader Bento #489

Wyatt’s lunch had a jelly sandwich made with this slightly more practical sandwich punch, strawberries, whole grain pretzel sticks, cantaloup, tomatoes and leftover, diced pork tenderloin from dinner the night before.


Preschooler Bento #156

Today Augie took this lunch to preschool: yellow tomatoes, strawberries, frozen peas and cubed baked tofu.

2nd Grader Bento #490

Wyatt had raisins, lemon cookies, strawberries, whole grain pretzels, yellow tomatoes and baked tofu. I will bet you one million dollars that those eight tomatoes come home untouched.

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  • Where on earth did you find a Boba Fett sammich punch!? ADORABLE.

    And i feel you on this one. Soem days, I know the food I send is delicious and it comes home uneaten. Kids. Bah.

  • Anonymous

    I went through your food list, tediously found a pic of all the foods on it on the Internet, sorted them by food group (meat, dairy, carb, fruit, veg) and let my 3 yr old pick one item from each list for her lunch (5 teensy portion per lunch). She likes to help pack, too. Doesn’t mean she’ll always eat all the food, but it helps

  • Thanks for this blog, we are so frustrated with my 2.5 yo son not eating anything that we make.  It is especially hard on our egos as both my hubs and I are trained chefs…it made me feel better that it’s not just us, and worse that it continues on. You inspire me to make our food more fun than fancy. 🙂

  • Karol

    Well, I feel your pain, my dear. Olivia used to hide her lunches from her friends. All because I liked to use my teensey weensey high heel shoe cookie cutter to cut her cheese. So finally, I said ( in my best Steve Martin voice) “Well, Excuuuuuuuuuse me!” and that was that. She bought those nasty chickless nuggets and nasty on a bun. But I did have good intentions…..And I admire the stuffing out of you! No matter what!!

  • What is the new positive change in your life.  Please share! 🙂

  • Lilysy

    I LOVE your Star Wars sandwich figure cutters! And about the ungrateful pickiness…if we didn’t love them so much, well you know.

  • Monique Tischer

    I love this post! I especially love when you post “before” & “after” pictures of their lunches. It makes me feel vindicated. My 4 yo who used to eat anything you put in front of him, is now so incredibly picky. I’ll pack 4-5 foods that I think he will eat and he will come home with 3-4 untouched foods. It’s so frustrating but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one.

  • I made only lunch one time for my kiddos last week.  Ugh, must go shopping!

  • Rebecca Ramirez

    Awesome inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing this every week!! LOVE IT!

  • I love your honesty Wendy! It just kills me when I rack my brains to make my kids bentos fun and they still want to buy the junk they sell at school.

    One thing made me feel better though: when we remodeled part of our house a few years ago, we had to move out to a tiny apartment for a few months. With only a mini kitchen to work with and all the work of packing and moving I ended up having my kids buy lunch at school most days. Lo and behold, they got sick of school lunch too! And suddenly my middle daughter even started ASKING me to make her bentos again. Which is to say, take heart. Or at least that memory certainly helps me a little. 🙂

  • Fuzzy

    Umm:  mother of three non-picky eaters.  Here’s how:  1.  Pick a week when you are all home, all day, for all meals.  Remove all of the will only eat foods:  corn, hotdogs, mac n cheese, whatever.  Hide it thoroughly so they don’t know it is there.  2.  Proceed to cook whatever it is YOU would like to eat.  Curry, fish, peanut sauce, spicy (mild, unless they’re my kids) or whatever.  Feed child.  If they don’t eat, they aren’t hungry.  No begging, pleading, or fighting.  Also, no alternate choices.  Food is food, you are not a short order cook, and you aren’t feeding them anything disgusting. 
    3.  When they don’t eat it, say fine.  Next meal is:  whatever you would serve next.  If they are hungry sooner, there is that dinner they didn’t eat.  No big deal, NO pleading, begging, etc.  It really won’t kill them to miss a meal.  Plenty of kids in parts of the world only get one meal a day.  It isn’t ideal, but honestly?  It is better than a lifetime of catering to picky kids.

    by the end of the week, they will eat.  You just have to outlast them.

  • Hi Fuzzy — Thanks for your input. I agree with everything you say because what you’ve described is *exactly* how I feed my kids! I have never short order cooked for either of them. (I used to puree whatever we were having for dinner for them to eat when they were babies, even.) They eat what I serve them, or they don’t eat. Unfortunately, my oldest is stubborn enough that he is willing to go hungry for hours and hours rather than eating something he isn’t fond of. If he doesn’t eat his lunch, that’s his after school snack. If he doesn’t eat it for snack, he waits to eat until dinner. I envy his iron will sometimes but mostly I’m just frustrated because he’s a beast when he’s hungry and I despise throwing uneaten food away.

  • irielle

    Thank you for sharing your frustrations with us. You take your time and make your sons beautiful lunches and snacks. I get annoyed enough and I know the lunches I make are nowhere near as special as yours. Perhaps having hot lunch will help your son appreciate how special his homemade lunches are — it helps with my son. It also helps that his school lunch program is so backwards when it comes to vegetarian options. Two years ago they’d at least offer a veggie salad along with the other two entrees, but now we’re lucky if they offer a veggie option once or twice a week, and usually my son can’t stand it because he’s a cheese snob and doesn’t like the kinds or quality they use. Oh well!

    Thank you for all of the inspiration!

  • abcndlaw

    Keep up the good work.  I have one that repeatedly bring home full containers.  I have tired to have him make his own, but not even that works most days.  You are amazing and if they dont tell you wel, I will.  Hard working mom’s deserve a pat on the back!

  • Pingback: Pacifiing the Picky Eater: Bento Making, Inspires | The Mama Maven Blog()

  • Jill Collins

    My son is a problem feeder, we’re desperately trying to get him to eat any ‘real’ food. I can count the food he will eat on one hand, nuts are the only thing that comes from the earth that he will eat, and peanuts are not allowed at school. He literally lives on milk which we add protein powder to. He throws a tantrum if any food that other people are eating gets within a foot or 2 of him. I feel your pain about your son refusing to eat the food you make, thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know that other people have trouble with feeding their kids. Mine has sensory integration disorder, and his feeding problems are extreme, but I’m going to buy that $22 sandwich punch and give it a go, it’s the cutest thing ever. How could anyone not want to eat those?

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