Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Lunch = Art = Lunch

I am just in love with these creative little lunches in boxes. If you haven’t heard of them before, they’re called Bento lunches and they’re just so pretty and creative and fun. I’ve wanted to make some for a while now, so of course, when we’re an hour late for our lunch/afternoon science themed homeschool play-date, I decided that was the perfectly opportune moment to throw them together instead of a more traditional (and speedy) packed lunch.

For a spur-of-the-moment decision and a first try, I am more than pleased with how they turned out. While I am not so ambitious as to attempt a rainbow box just yet, working with what we had on-hand was pretty easy. I didn’t have a theme in mind; I just started packing and realized that I could make it perty…so I did.

I put lettuce in the bottom (triple blend; enough for a small salad) and then put sliced peaches in one end of the box. These boxes are the snap-top non-leak kind and they came from Dollar Tree. I have yet to have one leak on me, so I think the $1 boxes are a great buy but you can totally go more expensive with the box option if you like. I wrapped a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick with sliced ham and cut it into 6 rolls, then used baby carrots to keep things separate. I put salad dressing and croutons in another container and then ruined the healthier slant I had in mind with a delicious chocolate Swiss Cake Roll.

Here’s the result:

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s lunch so I can experiment a little more. I have to say that this was a pretty good way to get more food into my kids as they both ate nearly everything in their boxes. Both of the boys are pretty good eaters anyway; aside from a few texture issues with LBB, they’ve always liked fruits and raw veggies. We have more trouble with getting them to actually sit down and eat rather than just snack. Maybe the presentation helped – we’ll see if that holds true long term.

I do have to say that seeing everything laid out together makes it harder to choose chips over celery. Another cool thing about Bentos is that if you’re following a traditional layout/content, you’re pretty close to ‘normal’ on serving size and nutritional content. One half would be rice or a carbohydrate, one quarter would be your main dish (meat?) and the remaining quarter would be fruit/veg. Our family generall eats meals on salad/child sized plates and we usually plate meals with half fruit/veg and the quarters to be carbs and protein; I envision our future boxes following a similar spread.

We have a ton of sandwich cutters (the de-crusters that also half a sandwich all in one step) and more than a couple of cookie-cutters that make wonderful shaped sandwiches. It will be fun to let the boys loose and see what kinds of creations they can come up with. I found Lunch in a Box, Bento Lunch (with a blog ring), and flickr’s Bento Boxes photo group to be great places to get ideas for contents and arrangement. If you’re into the decorative boxes, check out Toxel’s Amazing Bento Food Art Creations, LuckySundae’s Bento art flicker photostream, and Anna The Red’s amazing site (check out her Raving Rabbids rice roll – incredibly edible!).

We did manage to get school work done this morning even though we had a field trip planned (gold star for Mom). We finished up our Ancient Egyptian Architecture lapbook and are working on Lesson 3 in Latin. We’re finally getting into vocabulary that the boys can use (practically, not just to show off, which they’re totally not above doing). When Loverly Husband is found napping on the couch, they’re quite proud to whisper to each other about it in Latin. When I say ‘finally’ I should clarify. We usually spend a week or so on each lesson, and then go over it again in review (flashcards) to make sure they have it before we move on. We’ve been doing the Cambridge lessons for several weeks now, and our pace is about one lesson per week – give or take a couple of days.

Getting done with lessons put us late on leaving the house, so it’s a good thing we had a weather-induced change of plans. Today’s field trip was supposed to be to the Houston Health Museum, but with another cold front hitting today and temps slated to fall back into the 30’s by 2PM, we opted out of a long drive and went to SFK’s house for fun with faux-polymers. That sounds a lot more academic than saying that we made play dough, doesn’t it? We tried four different variations of this recipe, and ultimately decided that omitting the salt made the dough with the best ‘feeling’.

It would have been even more academic had we actually discussed with the kids what that ‘polymer’ means, but it’s been a couple of weeks since they’ve been together and so were much more interested in the socialization aspect of today’s festivities. We’ve been cooped up inside for a week now thanks to the weather, with only each other for company – a far cry from our normal social scene domination, so SFK and I let the education slide in favor of socializing with their buds. It’s all about balance, you know {wink}.




4 responses

  1. That rainbow one is incredible, isn’t it? Nice idea with the ham around cheese, looks very yummy that way. If you are into food presentation, you might like this blog: I find it so inspiring!!!

    February 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    • Oh, wow – those are awesome! I used to do little food doodles for my kids when they were little – that and ice-cube tray snack trays. I remember seeing creative presentations in magazines, but nothing that elaborate. So pretty! Thanks for sharing the link 🙂

      February 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm

  2. Fun!!! Something about the presentation makes ordinary food so much more appealing to kids. I’m always trying to get my kids to eat protein since they went “veggie” on me last year. My son won’t eat a plain cheese stick or a boiled egg, but cut it into shapes and give him a dip and he’ll try anything!

    I think it’s awesome that they like to show off their Latin–good for them! 🙂

    February 12, 2011 at 9:57 am

  3. What a beautiful bento box you have there.

    January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

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