There are so many advantages to Bento boxes:
- They are small so they fit well in overstuffed Middle school book bags. And yet you can fit a whole lunch into such a small space. Really - take all of your lunch out of it's bag and containers, pile it together, and see just how big it really is. It'll fit!
- No baggies, no paper sacks that stuff our landfills. You know they get thrown out, even when you ask that they be brought home. The Bento Boxes come home.
- Yeah, most are plastic, although there are some nice metal boxes out there. BPA free boxes are available, and most lunches are packed cold and eaten cold or room temperature.
- Easy to fill: Leftovers? Pile it in and forget about finding that leftover spanish rice, pasta, pancake, extra hard boiled egg or cornbread all moldy in the fridge a week from now. The kids gobble it up. GREAT for picky eaters. Variety is king! And still - only one container to wash. Perfect for Mom. (especially me, with no dishwasher)
- Distracted or picky eaters? Somehow it just seems easier to mix and match fruits and vegetables in a box than a baggie. Fruit salad is great, but how about throwing in a strawberry, few grapes, and a few apple flowers? *flowers cut with a small cookie cutter. The scraps go in my fruit salad. Toss in a cute pick to use as a fork and it's that much more fun to eat. No more half eaten bananas or apples that come home mushed and grossly browned, unable to be saved. Berry season? Give them a treat and toss in a small sauce bottle filled with chocolate sauce. Same with vegetables. Mine aren't great veggie eaters, but a cherry tomato or few snap peas paired with a small piece of broccoli and a few carrot sticks together seem to disappear better than a whole serving of carrot sticks.
- Mini-size is fun. Mini bread, or cookie cutters make for cute fun sandwiches. Honestly, when I give Sarah a whole sandwich, even if it's a HALF sandwich, she rarely eats it all. Give her 5 small butterfly or heart sandwiches*? She'll eat them all - and then doesn't complain about being hungry after school. For the 'treat' part of the lunch, I now make cookies smaller so they fit in the boxes. The girls think they are SO cute - even though the amount of cookie is now equal to 1 1/2 normal sized cookies, if that. Sometimes I toss in a few mini banana muffins with just a few mini chocolate chips baked in and they think they've gone to heaven. * the leftover bread scraps are saved and frozen, to be used later in weekend 'egg dish', made into garlicky bread crumbs for salads, fed to the birds, breading for various dishes...
Not ready to buy? That's ok - took me a bit too. Check out Lunch in a Box website - lots of great tips, recipes, and Bento reviews so you know what you're buying.A few giveaways to get you started - go check it out, see what others are doing and enter. What do you have to lose?
Ends April 5: http://maisieeatsbento.blogspot.com/2009/03/100th-bento-giveaway.html
Ends April 22: http://kidskonserve.com/blog/post/Be-the-Voice-of-Change.aspx
Ends April 22: http://www.missionvegan.com/happy-april-giveaway-time/comment-page-1/#comment-3319
I'll be back with photos later. Right now it's time to make lunch for Mira.