The Week in Bentos: September 3-6, 2013

by Wendy Copley on September 6, 2013

Well, I guess the excitement from the start of the new school year has worn off because this week I kept the lunches pretty basic. Instead of decorative elements, I put my efforts into getting the kids to try a few new things in their lunches. The results were mixed, but I did find a couple winners. Read on to find out what’s what:

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Family beach bento #64

Monday the boys didn’t have school, so our whole family headed to the beach! I packed a big OOTS Lunchbox with snacks for us to enjoy between breaks playing in the sand and the waves. It held cubes of jack cheese, cucumber slices, grapes, strawberries (under the grapes if you can’t see them), ham, salami, hummus, and a few crackers. I threw a sleeve of crackers in the beach bag too. This was completely decimated.


4th Grader Bento #787

On Tuesday, I sent Wyatt to school with a thermal container (made by LunchBots) filled with leftover mashed potatoes and hoisin glazed meatloaf (a recipe from Beating the Lunch Box Blues which I reviewed earlier this week). I also sent a side car filled with grapes and yogurt raisins to round out the lunch. This meal was a big success! Wyatt ate everything and said he’d like me to make it again some time.

Preschool Bento #495

Augie’s lunch was packed in the PlanetBox: humms, pita chips, cucumber slices, grapes and chunks of leftover meatloaf. I didn’t heat the meatloaf for Augie because he regularly eats meatballs cold and I figured that since meatloaf is basically the same thing he would go for it. Wrong! He hated it and he’s told me every day since then that he hates meatloaf now. Ruh-roh.


Preschool Bento #496

To make up for my horrible meatloaf mistake, I packed a nice simple Yumbox lunch for Augie on Wednesday: pretzel slims, cucumbers, hummus, salami, snap peas, celery and strawberries with a sad giraffe pick.

Wyatt had school lunch.


4th Grader Bento #788

On Thursday I broke out the Laptop Lunches box for Wyatt’s lunch: strawberries, celery with cream cheese and dried cranberries, pretzel crisps and shrimp cocktail.

The celery was something new I was trying to convince Wyatt to add a new vegetable to his repertoire. It was an utter failure. He didn’t even touch it.

The shrimp, however, was a humongous hit! The idea to do this was another one from Beating the Lunch Box Blues and it couldn’t be more simple. I bought a bag of precooked, frozen shrimp from Trader Joes and stashed it in our freezer. On Wednesday night, I took a handful out, put it in the blue container with a lid on it and stuck it in the fridge to defrost overnight. In the morning I pulled it out of the fridge, drained off the excess liquid that had collected in the container, gave the shrimp a quick rinse and then let it drain for a few minutes on a clean kitchen towel while I assembled the rest of the lunch. Once I was convinced it had drained enough that it wouldn’t be soggy I popped it back in the blue container with a small tub of cocktail sauce.  Wyatt said that he loved it and that “everyone he knew in the school” came over to look at his lunch and ask for a shrimp (which he denied them!). Normally he’s not a kid who likes a lot of eyes on him but this time he seemed pretty proud and excited and he obviously felt like it was a good thing so I’m glad it was fun for him. If you’re wondering about the cost of sending shrimp, it’s definitely not the cheapest item I send for him, but it’s not crazy expensive either. When I divided out how many servings of shrimp I can get per bag, it works out to about 70 or 80 cents each.

Oh and one more shrimp note: I don’t usually show this, but I always send my kids’ lunches in a thermal lunch bag with two ice packs to keep the food at a safe temperature until lunch time. So no need to worry about Wyatt eating gross, room-temperature shrimp at lunch time!

Preschool Bento #497

Augie’s lunch was packed in our PlanetBox: hummus, celery, strawberries, cucumbers, Cheez-its, dried cranberries and three small Snoopy pb&j sandwiches. The sandwiches were cut and stamped with these cutters.

(Augie does not like shrimp, so my failure to include any in his lunch makes me a nice mama — not a mean, unfair one.)


4th Grader Bento #789

Wyatt was so happy about the shrimp that I sent some again today. He also had Cheez-its, strawberries, grapes, corn and cocktail sauce to dip the shrimp in. This was sent in our Yumbox.

Preschool Bento #498

I packed Augie’s lunch in an EasyLunchboxes box: celery, Cheez-its, Banana Dog Bites from Weelicious Lunches (full review coming soon!), strawberries and grapes.

The Banana Dog Bites are another simple recipe: spread peanut butter on a tortilla, put a peeled banana down, roll it up and slice it into rounds.  I made these for the kids for breakfast and Augie was crazy for them so I made them for his lunch too.

Stumped for ideas for packed-lunches? Check out my lunch box idea list or visit Wendolonia’s Bento Box Gallery for nearly 1500 searchable lunch photos!

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  • Sara

    Did the bananas in the “Dog Bites” get gross by lunch?

  • Ooooh! Good question! I hadn’t thought of that. He is just now sitting down to eat his lunch at preschool, so I don’t know. I’ll find out when I pick him up and report back.

  • Senorita Tortuga

    I’m interested to hear!

  • He only ate two of the banana bites so I got a good look when they came home.They held up very well! They were a little mushier than when I sent them off, but I ate a couple myself and they were good.

  • Here’s a photo:

  • Lisa Lin

    I’m inspired to send shrimp in my daughter’s lunch. Great idea.

  • Awads

    After immersing myself in all things bento (esp. this site!), my 1st grader declared he’d prefer to buy school lunch. WTH???? i had made some pretty cute, delicious lunches, too! i’m a little bit bummed. will he ever come back? in any case, i’m still packing snacks, so there! (ha!)

  • Rebecca S.

    Where did you find the pink rectangle silicone “cup” that’s holding the cheez-its? It’s a great shape! I’d love some of those–thanks!

  • Oh man! I *totally* know how you feel. When my oldest started first grade he was in *love* with school lunches. All he wanted was school lunch! I told him he could have school lunch once per week. As time has gone by, he’s totally changed his tune and if I tell him he has to have school lunch because we’re running late or I’m sick or something he’s usually pretty bummed out. So take heart! It may be awhile, but I bet he’ll tire of the novelty of school lunches eventually.

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