Monday, February 28, 2011

Showing Your Spots

Today's lunch brought to you by LiLi's favorite leopard print shoes.  She asked me to make her a matching lunch and I was so disappointed that I didn't have a leopard cookie cutter, I need to be shopping for one!  So I did the next best thing, polk a dots!
LiLi's lunch has grapes, fruit leather dots, round cucumbers and carrots, a cucumber sandwich with cheddar dots, granola bars cut in circles and a few girl scout cookies because some one other then me needs to eat them!

GiGi has the same thing...but she has a jam and cream cheese sandwich.
The shoes that inspired a lunch!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Always Be Prepared

Here is a list with some of the things I use...I may post pictures (but I don't want my Hubby to know just how big the collection actually is).  I will try to include links to as many things as possible, but pictures at the very least.

First, and most importantly, you need good containers.  I would recommend starting with containers from  These are hands down the best, easiest to use lunch boxes ever! Besides you can get a lot of food in them!   Lunch Bots are great too, and come in a variety of sizes and compartments.    The Container Store carries a large variety, but none of them are favorites here.   Sanrio (the makers of Hello Kitty) make wonderful bento boxes, and most include silverware!,default,pd.html  Finally do a search on EBay and Amazon for bento boxes, you'll find some great, genuine bento boxes.   And don't forget to shop at local Asian and Japanese markets.

You'll have lots of choices and you'll want to experiment.  Some days you'll want to pack a smaller lunch but include a thermos for soup or pasta.   If you don't have a way to heat hot foods, you'll want to invest in a Thermos as well.

Separating foods might not be important to every one, but my girls really prefer things not to touch.  So I use a lot of silicon holders.  I initially bought the Wilton brand, they are readily available, but expensive.

I've found that Cost Plus World Market has some great options; lots of colors and shapes and they are very reasonably priced.  I believe your get 6 holders for about $2.50.  Also the Japanese Grass that is used in sushi trays is fun to use and changes up the look of your lunches!,-Sushi-Baran,/Detail

Cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes will add to the fun in your lunches and will have your little ones wondering what lunch will look like each day!  Use them to create a theme, and to cut veggies, fruit, sandwiches, cheese...the possibilities are endless.  I think that the metal cutters work best, and you'll want a variety of shapes and sizes.  For example I have about 15 different heart shaped cutters, they range from about a half inch to 5 inches.

Food safe pens will allow you to draw faces, add details and write notes to your kids on their food! They'll really get a kick out of it and so will their friends.  Your child might not love cheese, but what if the had a little Baby Bell circle colored like a soccer ball?  That might make them brave enough or interested enough to try a bite or two.

Picks and decorative forks are the final layer of fun.  If you do a search for bento picks on Amazon hundreds of these darling little guys come up.  The selection is amazing...from zoo animals to stems and leaves...if you can imagine it, they sell it.   Don't overlook The Dollar Tree and your neighborhood grocery store.  Holiday cupcake picks are a great addition and they're generally pretty inexpensive.    The Dollar Tree sells holiday tick tack toe games, I buy them then throw out the game board, your left with 10-12 darling holiday picks that I can use over and over again.   At the grocery store you can find frilly tooth picks, pirate swords, bamboo sticks, and Wilton cupcake picks.

And finally, make it fun for you too! You have to pack these little cuties, so make sure your enjoying it.  Love notes on a not very fancy lunch go a long way in dressing it up, treats that are holiday themed will bring squeals of joy, just cutting things into little pieces and using picks can dress up a lunch, and as I find great things I will always share where I've found them!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside

Well, the snow is finally here.  It's just not sticking.  But the freezing temps inspired today's lunches, I really wanted a lunch that would warm the girls from the inside out, and that had lots of fiber to keep them full.  We still have our fingers crossed for a good storm tonight and in the meantime we'll enjoy the charming feeling of living in a virtual snow globe.

Today's lunches are packed in Lunch Bots, they are great metal containers if you don't want to use plastic.  They come in all sorts of shapes and configurations, and are color coded.  I'm using the orange box, it is medium in size and has a center divider.  We also have the blue, which is the same size, but not divided.  The medium size isn't huge, but it's the perfect size to go along with a cup of soup or a thermos of pasta.

I also used 1 cup sized Klip It containers, you can find these containers at major retailers and The Container Store for about $4.00, and they are made of BPA free plastics.  Also, on a side note all of my containers go in the dishwasher on the top shelf, I haven't got time to hand wash a bunch of stuff...I need it to make the lunches!
Today's lunch is Chicken Noodle Soup, carrot flowers, cucumber butterflies, orange wedges, a granola bar and some chocolate bear cookies.  Both girls have an organic chocolate milk to drink.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Italy

I was really in the mood for pasta salad, so I created a whole lunch based on this yummy, veggie loaded treat!  It was such and easy and fun lunch to throw together, I would have loved to put in a few more fruits but I couldn't find any berries or melon that looked very good at the store. 

I also used a new Bento container.  You won't believe this, but I got these at The Container Store (my idea of Heaven) for only $6.00!!!!  You heard right! And look at all the food that I've packed in there, more then enough for any child, more then enough for me, probably enough for my Hubby.  If you were using these for your Husband and you wanted to put a sandwich, don't worry there is tons of space.  You could fill this full of all sorts of great eats, and pack an apple or banana separately to bulk up the meal.
Both girls got the same lunch, and they were both so excited for these new bento boxes.  Gigi's is blue and LiLi's is pink, everyone is happy with their favorite colors!   This lunch has salami ribboned on toothpicks, tomatoes and carrot slices, pickles and olives, and cheese cubes...the toothpicks and little bits really do make the food taste better.  They got a half a banana, a handful of raw almonds, and that yummy, colorful pasta salad, plus two samaos cookies! 
We've been selling Girl Scout cookies for the last few weeks and I finally broke down and opened a box.  Now to just eat two a day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Really Wanted A Snow Day

This might possibly be the worst lunch EVER.  No, really.  We had a really late night at Chez Little Lunch, and I woke up to big, fluffy, white stuff, falling gently from the sky and promptly melting as soon as it hit the ground.  I was so disappointed, I just wanted to cuddle in and do school at home today...not get motivated to pack a fancy, cute, healthy lunch.  Let me just say, I failed on all three counts today, but alas we all have these days.  I promise to do better next time!

Lunch is the same for both GiGi and LiLi, it has apple sauce, goldfish crackers, a little cutie, some carrot sticks, almonds and craisons, some summer sausage (homemade) and a little bit of brownies.  My lunch has a big bit of brownies, it's helping to cheer me up.   Gigi eats her applesauce by dipping her crackers in it...sounds totally gross to me, but she swears by it.  If your brave enough to try it, let me know what you think! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Lunch List

I've gotten a lot of requests for a list of lunch ideas and some links to some of my favorite bento supplies. My plan is to divide this into two separate posts, one today and maybe one on Thursday.  I'll share with you that my lunches tend to be a variety of things the girls love, left overs and things I'd like them to try.  And I would really encourage you to get the kids involved in meal planning and shopping.  They will be so much more adventurous if they get to chose a new fruit or vegetable to try!

Another bit of advice, try out new things in small doses. Your only sending little bits of each food type, so if your child doesn't eat the mashed sweet potato but does eat all of their carrot sticks they'll still be getting a good source of vitamins.  The next lunch you can try something different!   Don't be discouraged.  My girls don't like sandwiches, which happen to be a great platform for really cute bentos.  So every once in a while I'll sneak in the sandwiches they will sort of eat, and if they only eat a few bites of each sandwich, well, thats ok because they've probably eaten all their fruits and veggies! 

Some of my favorite lunches include;
Tea Time; cucumber sandwiches, little scones or muffins, fruits and veggies cut into tea pot and tea cup shapes, a few tiny treats like little cookies or cakes.
Italian Picnic; pasta salad, salami slices, cheese wedges, lovely crackers, melon cubes, marinated artichokes and bell peppers, and a stick of biscotti.
Indian Platters; Hummus, pita wedges, cucumber slices and carrot sticks, mango, grape tomatoes and a little cookie or other sweet.   (You can whip up your own hummus, or buy those convenient containers are Costco.)
NY NY; homemade pretzels or a bagel and cream cheese, a little container of mustard for dipping, a little apple (for the big apple) or apple slices, dill pickles (deli food, right?), some sour apple rings, anything cut with a Statue of Liberty cookie cutter (think cheese or deli meat).
A Basic Lunch:  Pick your theme using cookie cutters...sandwiches or meat and cheese, cucumbers, carrots, kiwi, melon, apple, bananas...these are all easy to cut.  Think of themes like flowers, holidays, sports....
Summer Picnic; Baked or fried drumstick, potato salad, fruit kabobs, a bit of cobbler or pie, deviled eggs, coleslaw and olives.
Soups On Chowda; (Fill a Thermos with very hot water first to heat it up) fill with clam chowder, in a side container add fish crackers, fish shaped cucumbers and melon slices, and a fish shaped cookie or granola bar.
Soups On Lil' Chick; Fill a Thermos with some Chicken noodle soup and a side container with crackers, chicken shaped carrots, egg shaped cheese slices (decorate with food safe pens), and a cute brownie cut like a little chick!
Italian Feast; Spaghetti in a Thermos and a container with some garlic bread, a green salad, some fresh berries and a little cupcake.
Sushi; Throw together a few California Rolls, some dessert rolls made by rolling two organic fruit leathers together (use two different colors), add a little roll up sandwich with turkey, lettuce and cheese if you need more protein, I'd slice fruit in rounds and stack them with cute picks to finish it off.

It might be easier to just list all of the great food items I like to have on hand, so that throwing together lunch is easy...maybe another post! I have oodles of lunch ideas, so I will continue to post them but these are a few to start you off.  Just build a lunch based on a variety of colors, textures,  and tastes...a bright lunch will equal a healthy lunch!

Monday, February 14, 2011

LoveBugs Brought Lunch

The Love Bugs are big at our house, big like Santa or the Easter Bunny. Really it's just an excuse for me to create a little magic while the girls still believe...just like every other Valentines Day the girls woke up to little baskets filled with all sorts of little treats. What the girls will soon find out is that the Love Bugs also created some magic in our lunches.
Both the girls have the same lunch today and I had them packed last night! Yippee, a small feet at our house! For this Love filled lunch I pulled out my Wilton Valentine's Day Cookie Cutter collection, it's filled with all sorts of hearts, arrows, x's and o's. Lunch includes carrot and red bell pepper hearts, cheese and ham cut with a variety of shapes, a little cutie with a heart pick, some cinnamon graham crackers, some chocolate and gummy hearts, and a little chocolate Gnome. Hope this lunch warms their hearts and fuels their little bodies!

The little Gnome is made out of a Hershey Kiss, he has a little hat and the heart says, " I hope you Gnome how much I love you!". We used large kisses to make Gnomes for our teachers at the charter school and Awanas.
We've passed out 5 Gnomes so far and so far everyone LOVES them...this is perfect, it sets the scene just the way I had hoped for our little Family Valentine's Day Celebration tonight...don't tell GiGi and LiLi, but we're going to see Gnomeo and Juliet!   Happy Valentine's Day, hope your feeling the love!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is Sweet and I Love You!  Today's lunch is all about flowery love.   I noticed that the tulips and daffodils are trying to peak their heads out of the frozen ground, and spring is trying to make an appearance here in Oregon.  This mornings frost wasn't going to do anything to dampen that sun shiny feeling I've been having, and the fresh muffins for breakfast warmed us up as much as the golden rays we've been looking forward to.  
GiGi's lunch is full of all things flowers, from the turkey roses to the blueberry muffins topped with flower shaped fruit leather.  She also has kiwi and pineapple cut in flower shapes and star fruit which looks flowery all by itself!  I took some Colby Jack string cheese and used the smallest flower cutter I had to make little cheese flowers and did the same with some of the carrots.  I think our veggies look a little like a garden patch, with carrot sticks and snap peas and a few carrot flowers to top it all off! I snuck in some conversation hearts to hold everything in place and a little bit of granola bar cut into a tulip shape.

LiLi's lunch is basically the same but she has cinnamon muffins and some grape tomatoes...I want this little lunch! 

Last night some girlfriends and I were talking about the time it takes to make these little bento's, so I timed myself this morning.  I made the lunch while the muffins were baking, the timer was set for 11 minutes, I had the lunches packed; except for the muffins, because they needed to cool; before the timer rang!  It just takes a little planning, and having your supplies handy.  This lunch would have been just as fun and healthy without cutting the cheese, carrots or lunch packers shouldn't feel pressured to do all the extras, your kids will love the variety and yummy goodness either way!

I used our easylunchboxes again (my favorite) and flower shaped silicon cups from Cost Plus (they have all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors and they are tons cheaper then the Wilton variety.)  The little plant toppers came from a Japanese online site, not sure which one but Amazon and EBay are great sources

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Homemade Healthy Poptarts

Homemade Healthy Poptarts

I've shared this on Facebook, but I really wanted to share it here too...I love Poptarts, but not all the chemicals. This recipe is yummy, healthy and easy! Plus it allows your kids to help create all sorts of fun combinations, and it gets them in the kitchen to help you with baking!
My favorite, Nutella and Raspberry preserves! If you like you can use an egg wash and some sugar, or make a little glaze to put on afterwards. GiGis favorite is apple pie filling with a sweet glaze. LiLi likes chocolate with marshmallows, ala s'mores. Hope your family enjoys these as much as we do!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cheese Heads for A Day

At our house, we're not exactly what you'd consider sports fans.  In fact, I had to do a google search to find out who would be playing in the Super Bowl.   But we are fans of hosting get togethers with our friends and families, and this provided the perfect excuse!    I ate so much yesterday that I'm almost ashamed to admit that I looked forward to packing lunches this morning.  I knew it would be a snap though, and that the girls would love their green and yellow themed lunches.  (I rooted for the Packers yesterday, based on the fact that I know next to nothing about football, but loads of stuff about cheese!)

 LiLi's lunch has 4 green and yellow silicon holders with mini cheese balls, a little cutie, some caramel rice cakes, and some summer sausage (homemade from a friend), plus some carrot sticks and sugar snap peas, and some wheat thins.  It's not really a football theme as much as a leftover theme, but with the holders and the picks we're sort of celebrating the Packers!
GiGi has some meatballs, white cheddar and the same summer sausage, a little cutie, some caramel rice cakes, carrots and snap peas, and wheat thins.  Plus she packed herself a banana for snack.
My girls love rice cakes and I have them mostly convinced that they're a treat; the caramel ones really are yummy; and I can feel good about them getting some good grains!

My lunch didn't make the post, it's not super cute or creative....but I'm having some leftover cheese ball with whole wheat crackers and a half of an avocado.    I packed the girls' lunches in our easylunchbox containers and mine in an orange lunchbot.  Ready, set, eat! Go Team!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Playing With the Queen of Hearts

Sure enough with Valentine's Day looming in the near future, radio stations are playing all sorts of love and hearts songs.  "Playing With the Queen of Hearts" came on, so naturally, I turned it up and sang along...the looks of disgust coming from the backseat didn't put a dent in my crooning!   GiGi is at an age where her Mother merely breathing can cause embarrassment, but when it comes to lunches, I'm the Queen hands down in her book.   The song is the inspiration for today's little lunches, it's all things hearts, even the hard boiled eggs!
 This is Gigi's lunch.  She has ham, white cheddar and sharp yellow cheddar cut into hearts.  There are  mushrooms with hearts cut into the tops and some heart shaped cucumber slices.   We added some yummy cantaloupe, kiwi and pineapple hearts.   She has pretzels (if you look really hard they're sort of heart shaped) and some heart shaped junior mints and conversation hearts...and for the big finale a heart shaped hard boiled egg! She was so excited to see that I could shape her hard boiled eggs that I've had to order tons of molds.
 LiLi's lunch is very similar to GiGi's, except no cantaloupe or mushrooms...and we added baby tomatoes.  Again, I tried to stick with everything heart shaped.  It would be lovely if they would both eat the sames things, but these were simple switches.
Here are the heart shaped molds that I used for the eggs.  As soon as you finish boiling them, take the eggs out of the shell, squish it into the molds (the molds are really made for Quail eggs, but we have and throw them in the fridge until cold.  These molds come in all sorts of shapes, and are so fun!  You can find them on EBay, Amazon and at some Japanese stores.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lazy Lunch

This is what happens when our family has an extra busy weekend...I end up digging into the back of the refrigerator and the bottom of the pantry!  But the girls ate all of their lunches, so maybe it's not such a bad thing to make due with whats on hand.
These are my favorite bento boxes, mostly because I really love Hello Kitty and this makes my love of all things pink acceptable.  These have a top tray to hold everything inside from spilling out, plus the tray holds your very own pink spoon and fork! Genius, right?  Then the top locks down to hold it all together.
This Lazy Lunch had some mini peppers, mini cucumber slices, some ham (cut with a heart shape cookie cutter) and some raspberry newtons...oh, I also stuck some cheddar crackers in between all the sections to hold them nice and tight.  I used 4 silicon cups to divi everything up, and I made sure each cup was a different color to make it sort of fun.   I threw in freeze dried fruit;  my girls eat these like they're candy and I can buy the little packs in bulk at Costco, love that!  They both also got an organic vanilla milk. 

Wednesday's lunches promise to be much much more creative!