Bentos for a Gaggle of Girls
I'm a single mom of 3 gluten-free girls, trying to make lunch more fun through Bentos and baking
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Archive for the ‘Tips/Tricks’ Category

PostHeaderIcon M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Today G2 gets a Mickey lunch, and while her sisters’ lunches aren’t pictured, they had similar lunches with the same cute food picks.

More MickeyIn her Easy Lunchbox G2 has one of G1’s birthday cupcakes (vanilla gf cake and a chocolate buttercream frosting) with a Mickey hand food pick. Below that are some strawberries I halved to help them fit into the lunch box with another Mickey hand. At right, in the largest section are two silicone cups, one with Havarti with dill and a Mickey head and another with gf multigrain crackers and a red Mickey head. Below I used a Mickey cookie cutter to cut out a Mickey provolone head. Below the Easy Lunchbox is a small Mickey head container I found at Target with homemade trail mix in it.

My kids have standardized tests this week and the school recommends granola bars as a snack. 99% of granola bars aren’t gluten-free, and those that are gf are really expensive. There are some good protein bars that are gf, and there are trail mixes, but G2 is fairly picky about trail mix and hates all protein bars, so I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up ingredients to make my own trail mix. How did it take me so long to do that??? G2 is fussiest about nuts (and, actually, all food), so I knew that if it was a trail mix she’d eat, the others would eat it too. So I bought bags of roasted and low-salt almonds, cashews, pistachios, and sunflower seeds. I poured them into a gallon ziploc and added some chocolate chips and shook it. Now we have a trail mix everyone will eat rather than one that has all the “good stuff” picked out of it! Next up in my I should’ve done this already goals is making my own granola…

PostHeaderIcon Quick and Cheap Sticker Food Picks

Sticker picksI’m a single mom to 3 daughters. I work part time while they’re in school. This is all to say, I don’t have a ton of money. I tend to say that I have more time than money. I loved all the really cute food picks I saw other Bento-making parents using in their lunches. Unfortunately, some aren’t currently available anywhere. Some are available on Amazon or through Bento USA, but buying them adds up very quickly. Paper food picks are available sometimes in various stores, but availability changes from store to store and season to season. So, while I keep an eye on the Target 1 Spot, I wanted to find another solution.

I happen to have a huge stack of stickers. We were writing a lot of letters for a while, and we liked to decorate them with stickers. We aren’t mailing as many letters now, so I could do whatever I wanted with the stickers. My plan was to use the stickers to make picks to use in bentos after seeing a Despicable Me Minion lunch that had minion sticker picks. I started just sticking two stickers together and putting a toothpick in between them. That didn’t actually work, but I did find a way to make it work.

To make Sticker Food Picks, you will need:

Workspace

I recommend doing this at a time when your kids aren’t underfoot. Hot glue is hot. And it’s better for them not to hear your language after you burn yourself. Plus, burning the kids by accident is a bad idea!

Start by setting up your space – plug in the hot glue gun, have your hot glue stick refills nearby, lay wax paper over your counter/workspace so you won’t have drips of hot glue stuck to it, lay out stickers and cardboard, make sure your stickers are nearby, and collect your toothpicks.Hot glue

If you have stickers that are symmetrical or have a mirror image sticker, you can glue them together. Otherwise, you need to glue the sticker to a piece of cardboard or paperboard.

Choose a sticker to turn into a food pick. Hold your sticker from a small corner. Using the hot glue gun, apply glue to the center and a bit to the edges. Lay the toothpick on the sticker, then twirl the toothpick so there’s hot glue on the side that will touch the second sticker or cardboard. Match the outlines and carefully stick the sticker with the toothpick to its mirror image or the cardboard.Lego SW sticker picks

After you’ve made several sticker food picks on a piece of cardboard, and you’ve made sure the hot glue has cooled and hardened, carefully cut around the outline of each sticker using a sharp pair of scissors or an Exacto knife.

 

As you complete different groups of sticker food picks, collect them in snack-size zip-top bags.

Lots of sticker picks

Use a black permanent marker to write the type of food pick across the top of the bag. I collected the bags into a rectangular container. This makes it easier to find the right sticker when making lunches. Watch out, though, as making these can eat up a goodly amount of time! I lost almost 3 hours of my evening making these, not realizing that so much time had passed.

This post is linked to the Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday Link Party over at Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, and on Strut Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters’ Stuff.

This post contains affiliate links

PostHeaderIcon Daily Bento Bits

Everyday foodAs I’m reading through different bento-making blogs, I’m seeing many different ways kids have their lunches packed. I wanted to share a few things that work for us, some of which I haven’t photographed. I know I’m new to bentos, but I’ve been packing school lunches for 5 years, and we’ve found some things that work very well for us. Pictured you see G2’s lunch with the exception of her protein source: Sodastream bottle with seltzer, Squooshi monkey pouch with homemade applesauce, accordion container with chips, Laptop Lunch container with homemade fruit roll-up, and another with chocolate people parts and a Minion cupcake – all inside a Land’s End lunchbox.

All 3 of my girls prefer water with their lunches. G1 hates carbonation, so she has a glass water bottle with silicone sleeve that she keeps at school (her school has water bottle filling stations). G2 and G3 bring 1/2 liter Sodastream bottles I fill every day with water fizzified using our Sodastream plus a splash of lime juice.

All 3 girls always have a little accordion-like expandable snack container filled with chips attached to the strap of their Land’s End lunchboxes. The size and collapsibility of these containers works well for us – just the right amount of chips! I love the LE lunchboxes – they clean up well, are good sized, and come in a variety of patterns and styles to work with different ages. We’ve now used them in grades from kindergarten to 10th grade. I occasionally put in a free printable lunch joke/brain teaser. For October I’m using these Halloween Lunch Jokes.

I also want to share this great customer service story from the company that makes the reusable pouches we love – Squooshi. G2 and G3 both love applesauce. We had been using the Trader Joe’s applesauce tubes, but that got expensive and wasteful. I looked around online for reusable tubes, and we fell in love with the cute ones from Squooshi. Yes, these two children are older than the target age, but they love cute animals. Plus, G2 is obsessed with penguins, and they have a Penguin Squooshi pouch! Of course, within a week she lost the penguin. We still had 3 (walrus, monkey, panda), but she really only wanted to use the penguin. I contacted Squooshi directly and asked if it was possible to just buy a penguin – I really didn’t need 4 more pouches. Not only did they respond quickly, but they sent me two replacement penguins at no cost! What wonderful customer service! Plus, G2 was thrilled to get an applesauce tube in her snack the next day!

These things, plus the 4 bento boxes we use (Totoro, Goodbyn, Easy Lunchboxes, and Laptop Lunchboxes) work very well for us!

This post includes affiliate links, but I have received no compensation from the companies mentioned above. I just really like their products.

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