Friday, April 20, 2012

Outside the (bento) box

We've been having quite a few "odd" lunches in our house lately.  It's kind of refreshing really.  Monstro and I were getting pretty settled into a standard sandwich meal - cute sandwiches garnished with cute veggies - but sandwiches nonetheless.

Here are a few of our "break out" lunches!

First we have the Creepy Bunny of Doom lunch... it's a wrap so I get it if you're thinking "Really?  THAT'S your idea of a sandwich break?"  But trust me this was a huge win for me!  Monstro NEVER eats wraps.  He hates cream cheese and they just don't hold together well without it.  With this one I was able to camouflage it with a little smear of ranch dressing!  It's got Chicken Parmasean lunch meat with spinach and cucumber.  And look at those ADORABLE mini-Triscuits!  I've been waiting and waiting for him to agree to the Triscuits so I could show how freakin cute they are!  I added some extra cucumbers, carrots, purple cauliflower and pepperjack cheese.  Then the ultimate creepy lunch accessory...that hideous bunny face!!!  Big thanks to Marsh Supermarket for selling the heebiest Easter cakes ever!

Next we have quesadillas.   We were on quite the quesadilla kick for a few days and he had them for multiple meals.  We like to add all sorts of veggies to ours.  These are spicy grilled chicken and cheese with a little olive oil to help crisp them up- no veg to prevent soggy-sad-panda-lunch.  There's brown rice under that enormous pile of corn planks (yay for first corn of the season!) plus swords of tomato and a giant strawberry.  That cow has some Florida's Naturals Fruit Nuggets inside.  I got the both on super clearance at Target after Easter.  We love the Fruit Nuggets.  They're more expensive than your typical fruit snack but they have no artificial colors in them and they've actually got juice in them!  Monstro has been BEGGING me for desserts in his lunches.  He's the only poor, deprived child who doesn't get cookies or candy bars!  Usually fruit is dessert but I've told him he can earn desserts by showing that he'll eat the healthy stuff each day.

My husband made some fantastic meat sauce for pasta one night.  I left out a couple tablespoons of it to use for Monstro the next morning.  He had star pasta with the meat sauce, garlic cheese bread, ridge-y cut carrots, purple cauliflower and a little heart of Short Stop peanut butter fudge.  I used some alphabet pasta that I found for $0.33/bag to remind him of a few spelling words.  Unfortunately, after I arranged them, it seemed like I was giving him some sort of creepy religious message.  As soon as I started to place the "M" in promise I realized it but it was too late to go back!

We used to eat more traditional bento like this one pretty often.  It's certainly not standard Japanese by any stretch but it's closer and the flavors in the chicken are Asian.  He wanted "Mommy's Spicy Marinated Chicken" and rice.  My marinade is pretty simple and it somewhat mimics my beloved Sati Babi.  Oh how I miss jamming wooden sticks into my gums and tongue as we attempted to snarf down our meaty, juicy treat while walking around the uneven ground of the Banks Of The Wabash Festival at night.  So, he has the chicken and rice as well as the usual veggie assortment - cucumber, carrot and purple cauliflower.

I think I've saved the best for last.  Today's lunch is an unconventional lunch masterpiece!  He's got the typical veggies... I won't let him have a lunch without them!  But, his "entree" is a "bowl" of cereal!  We keep finding Mom's Best Naturals on sale and it's so rare that Monstro gets to enjoy a marshmallow cereal.  The Mallow Oats have no artificial dyes so he gets to feel like he's being a little "bad" but it's better for him than most of the other cereals he chooses (Coco Roos anyone?!).  I gave him a little bottle of almond milk to pour over the cereal so he could have the whole shebang.  He was especially jazzed about that mutant marshmallow fusion there towards the bottom!

Those are our "off the wagon" lunches for the last week or so.  It's been much more fun packing things other than sandwiches!  Part of my love for bento is being creative and we were just in a rut.  He was sick, then dad was sick and now I'm sick.  But it can be so easy to make it fun, sometimes I forget how much so!  What are some of your favorite "extra-ordinary" lunches?

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Gear?! Like I ever drove before!"

I love checking unexpected places for bento gear.  Now that I have easier access to all of those quick-snap pictures on my phone, here's some gear I scouted at Target.

The first is an actual lunch box and it's pretty darn cheap!  Only $6.99 in the baby feeding section.

It's hard to tell from this picture but it has 2 sections with a large lid and a secondary lid over one compartment.  It has dividers and a spot on top for a note or photo.  This thing is pretty big.  I didn't bust out my laser-line but it's about 10 inches by 12 inches I'd say.  Larger than a standard sheet of paper for sure.  You can see in the picture that the outer packaging shows a banana in one side!  I wanted to try this out but Monstro doesn't have a lunch bag this beast of a lunch would fit in!  It might work for "lazy day" lunches when there are no "attachments" to get jumbled around though.

The next one is a baby feeding set with individual containers that snap together.  It's in with the diaper bags and travel items.

The containers snap side-to-side and then fit into that handy black insulated carrying case.  One very cool thing that you (again) can't see in the picture is that the top of the carry case has a spot to secure a water bottle (or a baby bottle).  Each container is roughly 3 inches by 3 inches and has a tight fitting lid.  I seriously considered this one also because we have a hard time getting a drink bottle in Monstro's usual lunch bag.  It's a touch on the expensive side, especially when you consider that for $16 you could get an airtight bento set with bag and chopsticks.  I think the real advantage here would be for kids (or grown ups!) who don't like foods to mingle.

The last little treasure I found is supposed to be a stacking snack bin.  It's made to carry formula powder, dry cereal, teething biscuits and things of that nature.  I think it would make a FANTASTIC bento because it's totally clear, you can choose how many boxes to attach and each compartment keeps foods separate from the rest.

Cute right?  Each little box is about 2 inches by 3 inches and clicks to the box above it with a little snap lock.  It does have a little blurb on it saying it's not for use with food.  Isn't that food in the picture?!  If you don't carry food in it, what else would you use it for??  This one is $9.99 and will probably come home with me in the very near future!

I've also seen some great containers at Target over in the "Tupperware" section.  There's a new divided cube with an ice-pack top that looks like it'd be good for an adult lunch.

What sorts of "re-purposed" items do you use for lunches?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Contest on a "sister blog"

MeetTheDubiens has paired with AllThingsForSale for one heck of a bento giveaway!

 She's offering this box in a choice of colors, a bento belt, the silicone food cup set, a food pick set and the cutters to make those adorable animal wraps!  This would be a fantastic starter kit for someone just getting in to bento or for a seasoned vet who wants some extra gear.

Jill has one of the best casual bento blogs I've seen in a long time.  I really like her site and hope you will too!