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Old 08-30-2008, 02:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question The Dreaded Lunch Box

My own mother hated trying to come up with new ideas for school lunches so much, I got hot lunches at school until 8th grade, when I moved in with my dad. Dad is cheap. I had turkey and swiss sandwiches on rye with Dijonaise every day for 4 years until I had Senior Lunch Privileges to go off campus at lunch time. So, I never really know what to put in a lunchbox. DJ doesn't like the turkey and cheese sandwich I survived highschool on. Tried that. No dice.

So, despite the fact that we cyberschool at home, we do actually pack lunches the night before so that we can take a short lunch break and have more time to play outside later in the day. This year I'm trying to get DJ more involved so he'll try more new foods. We discovered Bento Boxes a few years ago, but they seemed like a lot of work at the time. Now, it looks like it would be a great addition to DJ's Health, Safety, Nutrition, and Phys Ed studies. We've been packing them for a while now - nothing as fancy as some of the ones I've seen online, but balanced and colorful at least. For anyone who's never heard of Bento: Bento FAQ | Lunch in a Box: Building a Better Bento And they're green. No waste and the boxes pay for themselves quickly.

So, does anyone here make Bento lunches? Or have any ideas for lunchbox lunches for kids? I'm so tired of PB&J and crackers with cheese.

I can adapt nearly anything to fit in a bento. I'm thinking about getting a Laptop Lunch Kit for DJ, too. Laptop Lunches - Laptop Lunch Kit - ReusableBags.com : Wegman's is pushing them really hard right now for back-to-school and our old bento boxes are getting a little worn out. Our old ones are Rubbermaid lunch kits and they're getting a funky smell in there. (Walt takes them to work and microwaved spaghetti in every single lunch kit we own. So gross. )
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Old 08-30-2008, 02:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hmmm...well I know you don't have to put Japanese food in the bento box, but a few years back DH got into this whole make-sushi-rolls-at-home phase, and during that time he came up with some interesting combinations. There's always cukes, carrots, avocado you can put in them....but then he started doing veggiedog and beans, macaroni and cheese, and fish sticks rolls. They were fun. Nowadays he's been making sesame noodles with wheat linguine, sesame, a GORGEOUS peanut sauce made with peanut butter and olive oil, and chopped up ginger. He made it yesterday, it took just a few minutes and it is .

I suppose there's always pizza and mac&cheese. Wally calls Velveeta Shells and Cheese with chunks of hot dogs "Favorite." I guess we can tell what his favorite meal was growing up.

Wally and I were just talking about thermoses. Do kids still use those?? I remember when classmates would bring soup in their thermos to go along with the PB&J and carrots and the little mommy lovey note written to them on their napkins. My mother was more like yours....she gave me $5 every morning and I'd buy a sandwich at the cornerstore on the way to school.
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Old 08-30-2008, 03:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simbarel View Post
Wally and I were just talking about thermoses. Do kids still use those?? I remember when classmates would bring soup in their thermos to go along with the PB&J and carrots and the little mommy lovey note written to them on their napkins. My mother was more like yours....she gave me $5 every morning and I'd buy a sandwich at the cornerstore on the way to school.
I have been looking for these. I don't ming if the boys pack but do hate sending in sandwiches all the time. (Our school for is pretty good - I eat it when I sub and don't have time to pack. I can only find one design and would like the twins to have different ones.

I kinda like this Wrap-N-Mat® - ReusableBags.com :

I found Kool-aid burstin'water today to put in their lunches. I try to send a resuable drink container with them but they all seem to leak.
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Old 08-30-2008, 03:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simbarel View Post
Wally and I were just talking about thermoses. Do kids still use those?? I remember when classmates would bring soup in their thermos to go along with the PB&J and carrots and the little mommy lovey note written to them on their napkins. My mother was more like yours....she gave me $5 every morning and I'd buy a sandwich at the cornerstore on the way to school.
DJ has an aluminum thermos that came with his current thermal lunch bag. (Both Disney Cars-themed.) He uses it all the time - especially while he's sitting at the computer. (Fewer spills.) He and I both have Sigg bottles for trips to the park, pool, and track. I'm thinking about getting him one of the aluminum, wide-mouth thermoses, too, for soup when we go hiking and on fall and winter field trips. They're called food jars, I think.

BTW - we hardly ever put Japanese food in our bentos. I actually think Italian and Mediterannean food packs better. Just to give you an idea of what I put in one of DJ's favorite lunches: 2 Kafta Meatball Mini Kebabs w/ 2 T. homemade Tzatziki (for dipping), 2 Grape Tomato and Baby Cucumber Mini Kebabs, 1/2 c. Garlic & Olive Oil Cous Cous, a square of Baklava (for dessert), and dried apricots, almond slivers, and 1/2 c. of Greek yogurt (for a snack). DJ just started eating cucumbers and loves the kebabs - and he had no idea there was cucumber in the Tzatziki sauce. His lunches are going to have a lot more variety now that he'll eat more than just green beans and carrot sticks.

Another easy meal is our version of Bento Fun-due: 6 medium-sized, cooked, plain cheese or beef ravioli and mini garlic breadsticks with marinara for dipping, cucumber/celery/carrot sticks w/ 2 T. Ranch dressing for dipping, 4 or 5 small strawberries, and dark chocolate ganache with crushed almonds for dipping.
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Old 08-30-2008, 03:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I grew up with bologna sandwiches, tomato sandwiches (yes, plain tomato), cheese sandwiches, and PBJ sandwiches. We don't eat sandwiches much at my house. I'm not much help b/c my older DDs did school lunches and now that we homeschool, I am NOT the lunch lady! 9yo made a very yummy alfredo pasta today (from scratch!). We do a lot of soups, pasta dishes, veggie snacking, and leftovers.
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Old 08-30-2008, 04:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Cant help too much older DS bought mostly because he liked the soups and younger son took pnut butter on bread or crackers from kindergarten thru 12th, everyday.
But veggies, hummus, apples &pnut butter, wraps with veggies, yogurt, fruit, granola, those are things I take now
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Old 08-31-2008, 11:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Great thread! This will be the first year that Kylor will be taking cold lunch, because get this.....there is no cafeteria in the middle school so they BUS the kids to the high school for lunch!!! Talk about taking away all your fun down time during lunch. Sheesh!! So he has declared he will not be doing that and will be taking a lunch, and I am not thrilled about packing a lunch every night.

As for me, I had hot lunch ONLY when we were having ham n' cheese at school I remember my cool Dukes of Hazzard metal lunchbox and Herself the Elf plastic lunchbox and, yes, I used the thermos almost every day.
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Old 08-31-2008, 01:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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We usually take a look at the school menu and decide what days are "buy" and what are "pack".

It would be easier on me if all days were buy!!

But...I have picky kids. Kids who love uncrustables! Uncrustables are easy to pack and they like them. BUT...both of our schools are PEANUT FREE this year!!
I understand the why, but it is really hard on us!

So far they have gotten the turkey & cheese sandwich, ham & cheese sandwich. They haven't complained yet. I like to pack yogurt, pretzels and more "healthy" choices.
No thermos for us. I would never have the time to get it all ready!

But I do like to put in "thinking about you" notes!
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Old 08-31-2008, 07:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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We also read the menu on Sunday nights and decide what days they are buying. Days when there's spaghetti, pizza, and beef barley soup, I can count on no lunch prep. The others I make DS8 the same PB & J sandwich, and DS11 likes ham, turkey, or roast beef.
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Old 08-31-2008, 09:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thermoses are easy to pack! Get up, microwave about 1 cup of water until it boils, and then pour it into the thermos. While that's heating, microwave some soup or whatever you want to put in the thermos. Dump the water. Pour in the soup! Only thing I ever hated about the thermoses were that they aren't dishwasher safe! None of them that I can find.

And, now that the kids' tuition includes lunches, I don't pack lunches.

DD Samantha took lunch pretty much every day from 7th grade on, and did 5 years of high school - so that's 6 years. She had PB&Honey, canned pineapple, chocolate pudding, and water every day. That's what she liked.
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Old 08-31-2008, 09:21 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I am in baking mode. I don't mind if the boys take a treat in their packed lunches, but prefer it to be homemade. I made angel food cake today, have small whoopie pie in the freezer and molasses cookies and zucchini muffins (Plain and chocolate) are on my list. I just freeze them in single serving and toss them into the lunch box frozen. The treat holds up better and is read to eat by lunch time.
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Old 09-01-2008, 09:37 AM   #12 (permalink)
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did you try your local bookstore or library? I got a book last years with lunch idea (nutritious one) and they'Re is even a month schedule of lucnh idea and they talk about what you should find in a lunch box... I found it for you (in english ) the book I use. Amazon.ca: Lunch Box: Creative Recipes for Everyday Lunches: Marie Breton, Isabelle Emond: Books
They have desert recipes like jello, vegetarian recipes and sandwich and salads... It's a very great book, I even make their recipes at home...

Here are some favourite:
Rouleaux au thon (tuna rolls)
1 can (3oz/85g) of tomato and basil pale tuna
2Tbsp of cream cheese
3 tortillas of 6inch diameter
laituce

Mix tuna with cream cheese until well blend. Spread about 2T of the mixture on a tortillas. Add (if you want) some laituce, cucomber, carots, red pepper cut in julienne. roll tight.

Salade du moyen orient (middle east salad)
3 garlic glove
1t oil
1 1/2 C water
1t cumin
½ t ground ginger
½ t tumeric
½t chili powder
½t salt
3/4 C couscous
3T lemon juice
1T minced mint or 1t dry mint
1T oil
2 green onions
1 tomato diced
3/4 C cucomber peled and cut in cube
1 ½ minced parsley
1 can (19oz/540 ml) chickpeas, rinced and drained

In a cooking pot, cook the minced garlic in the oil for 2 min. Then add the water and bring to a boil.

Add the seasonnings and couscous, mix and take off the stove. Cover and let sit for 5 min.

Puff the couscous with a fork in a bog bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and voilà!!!

Bon appétit! Also thanx for the bento link, the woman gives lots of neat ideas! I love it
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Old 09-01-2008, 07:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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OK! Thanx to Chrissi... With your link, I was in front of my computer all day looking at bento stuff! I'm SO getting stuff to make DH bento even if he doesn't want! There is amazing stuff on the lunch in a box webpage! I just have to have those little eggs molds! Plus I even saw some recipes that could fit in there perfectly! I even convince DH to go in chinatown next weekend to find some bento stuff! I'm so "bentoing" from now on!!!
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Old 09-01-2008, 09:48 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I am a "sometimes" packer for both me and the kids.

Amanda was pretty basic - some sort of sandwich on whole wheat, accompanied by fresh fruit and veggies. Her favorite thing when we used to have a garden in the fall was to go out and pick out a carrot - rinse it off, and pack it - greens and all! I could never include enough fruit - prune plums and watermelon cubes were favorites - but she likes it all. I usually threw in some sort of baked goods - pumpkin bread, homemade cookies, banana bread, etc. You can tell that I was a stay at home mom when Amanda and Jennie were packing lunches. Amanda would buy lunch on certain days - and pack the rest.

Jennie - OH MAN! - my fussy eater - for the first five years - it was apple smiles (cut an apple in half - then cut into slices around the core - the resulting pieces look like smiles.) a little container with peanut butter, and a box of raisins. Pack a little plastic spreader, and she would spread the apples with peanut butter and dot them with raisins. Every single day! She would also eat the fresh fruits, veggies and baked goods - but any other type of sandwich was a no-no. She only ate peanut butter and jelly on rare occasions - but preferred these at home, since they "got soggy" in the lunch box. Her only cold cut was roast beef - but she wouldn't eat that in a lunch box either. Finally in high school - she expanded her horizons a bit - eating a turkey sandwich most days if she didn't have her usual. The only day she'd buy in elementary was mac and cheese day - not even pizza day.

Sarah usually buys - but sometimes will pack. She'll eat just about anything.

I try to pack as often as possible (much better for the waistline.) I tend to leave a few cans of Progresso vegetable soup in the cabinet at work - and bring a package of Joseph's multigrain oat bran tortillas to leave in the fridge - with a package of extra thinly slice turkey (Hillshire Farms, I think), a bag of lettuce and a bottle of light balsamic vinaigraitte. Other standbys are a pouch of tuna or leftovers. Again - I try to always pack some fresh fruits and veggies - I love pepper strips or tabbouleh salad.
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Old 09-02-2008, 02:33 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I took some pictures of DJ's 1st Day of School Bento, but it didn't go as planned. Walt let DJ eat every yogurt that was left in the house last night and he polished off all the multi-grain crackers and cucumbers. So, what I was left with was 8 beef tortellini, 2 T. marinara, 1 small pear, cubed, 2 T. pistachios, and 2 slices of cheese. I'll try to get the pic up later.
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