Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bento photos

My last post talked about a few of the whys of Bento boxes, and a few giveaways that are still going on.

Here, finally, are photos of our lunches in the first few months. I'll apologize now for the quality - some are blurry, taken in haste to please hungry children. We have gotten a little more creative since - well, at least for Natasha and myself anyway!

Here are our boxes: Miras' at the top with the two kitties and Natashas' box at left with the cherry blossoms. If I remember correctly the box holds approximately 350 ml in the bottom compartment and 250 on top. (See the Lunch in a Box: Choosing the right size box post for more information). Sarahs' at the bottom holds the most, with 450 ml on the lower and 350 on the top compartment. It is a little wider and has a slightly domed cover. My box is on the right, approximately 350 and 250 ml (I think). Great for portion control. Since I eat with Mira and usually at home, it would be easy for me to find extra food if my lunch is not large enough. Or, I could finish whatever Mira leaves behind, but most days I have just enough.

A very blurry photo of my lunch: On the left bottom layer, several grapes, shredded cabbage with basil & fresh lemon juice, one leftover Beef/potato croquette (recipe Harumi's Japanese cooking, one of Natasha's favorite dishes from one of my favorite cookbooks) and some apple slices. Right holds some leftover chinese stirfry on rice, carrots and jicama. Two Lorna Doone shortbread cookies fit perfectly between the lid that secures the second layer and the box cover. If I remember correctly this was for an on-the-go picnic lunch at the Rose Garden after Art class and before swimming.

Michelles' bento: Leftover spicy pork stirfry over jasmine fried rice on the left and sugar dusted strawberries and grapes on the right.
Natasha's Bento: Same as Michelles' above, with two Fig Newtons replacing the grapes.
Natasha Bento school lunch: Leftover Pork Stirfry over brown jasmine rice and one Beef potato croquette on theleft. On the right one sticky rice ball (Sushi rice with dash of superfine sugar and Rice vinegar ala Mimi (Natashas' long-ago Japanese babysitter. We miss you Marilyn!), apple and carrot slices and fig Newtons. Natasha prefers veggies over fruit.
Another Middle school lunch Bento for Natasha: Ginger Beef and sticky rice stars - those are simply tomato picks for decoration in the middle of the stars. I usually cook the Ginger Beef that morning - it's quite fast, and cools fast in the freezer while I pack the rest of the lunch. Fresh pineapple on the right with a small container of chocolate animal cookies (organic of course). Natasha also loves Salmon with rice balls or over Udon noodles in her lunches. I always cook extra when we have salmon for dinner (or we count on Sarah not eating her portion), but more often I marinate and cook a large piece of salmon and then freeze it in 2-3 oz. portions. In the morning I cook and cool the Udon while making breakfast. Then when I pack her lunch I break the still frozen salmon into bite sized pieces and nestle it into the noodles with a fish bottle of extra sauce and if warm outside, a small frozen (plastic) ice cube. The salmon is always room temperature and ready to eat by lunch time. (see Harumi's Japanese cooking for our favorite salmon marinade, though I rotate through several.)

Sarahs' Bento: Sarah thinks rice balls are great in moderation so you won't see many in her lunches. She also isn't a big fan of most meats, unless I am serving sesame chicken. When we have that for dinner it MUST be in her lunch the next day. Leftover pasta is good, otherwise a variety of fruit, cookies, mini muffins and pretzels along with a shaped peanut butter/honey sandwich or bagel with cream cheese is what she prefers. Small containers of dip for veggies are sometimes used. The small containers of chocolate sauce for strawberries or caramel for apple slices in Fall always come back empty. Good thing they only hold a tsp. worth! Miras' Bento: Mira is the pickiest of all - she would live on pasta, cheese, strawberries and fishie crackers if I let her! Mira is not big on meat, peanut butter OR bread, so these are typical boxes for her. When I made the bottom box she specifically requested cheese slices on bread! Both boxes were demolished on picnics.

Hungry yet? I've added quite a collection of small food picks and colorful reusable divider cups, as well as a few more small cookie cutters. The food picks make it so much more fun to eat the fruit at school.

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