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Peter the eater

Bentos (2009-)

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Thanks to all of this inspiration - I have started making my daughter's school lunch "bento" style. She was getting so bored of the school lunches she was buying a bagel every day for lunch and not getting home until 6 pm every day after tennis practice. So even though it is apparently not cool, she brought lunch every day this week and is loving having a bunch of different things to eat. Her favs so far - grape tomatoes and carrots with hummus. For the protein - potstickers, meatballs, cubed tofu (she actually loves plain tofu), turkey and cheese wrap. I am actually getting her to eat vegetables every day - amazing. Even though I am just using some of our plain plastic containers, the varieties and colors (and some type of dessert)is making the lunch much more appealing. She did inform me that I am not doing the greatest job of keeping things separate (pickle juice got all over, ditto marinara from meatballs). She carries a backpack and her tennis bag everyday so I have to keep the container small and light.

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She did inform me that I am not doing the greatest job of keeping things separate (pickle juice got all over, ditto marinara from meatballs). She carries a backpack and her tennis bag everyday so I have to keep the container small and light.

The tighter you pack the contents on the inside of the ox, the less they roll around and spread. Also, you can get some cute small lidded containers for condiments that may help. I used to drain wet things like pickles on a bit of paper towel or a bamboo strainer to get extra juice off.

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I made this bento for my husband's lunch with leftover's from some Korean cooking. Rice and millet blend, bulgogi, and stir-fried zucchini went into a new lock and lock container with segments - this one can be microwaved, unlike our boxes from Japan, which greatly increases the likelihood of my husband eating the rice. I took along some soup and rice in a keep-warm container for myself.

PA260008.JPG

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Today: brown-rice avocado maki, mozzarella-tomato, grapes, cantaloupe, and a crispy puffed-corn snack called Tings.

bentos16.jpg

No lunch tomorrow on account of an ongoing-school visit.

I had hoped by now to have an expanded inventory of containers and some strategies for non-refrigerated lunches. I'm already bored with the routine, so I assume it's only a matter of time before PJ gets bored too. But I haven't found the time or energy to take the next steps. Soon.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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those are fricking enormous grapes.


Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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The green grapes this year have been amazingly large. Each one is like a whole piece of fruit. That's why I always cut them in half for PJ. They're also quite good.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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That was exactly the first thing I thought of when I saw that picture!

It's easy to get in a rut when have so many limitations, whether put on by the school, dietary/health conditions or just a downright picky eater. You find a couple things that work and you just keep rotating, as long as the kids are fine with it I don't worry too much.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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She did inform me that I am not doing the greatest job of keeping things separate (pickle juice got all over, ditto marinara from meatballs). She carries a backpack and her tennis bag everyday so I have to keep the container small and light.

The tighter you pack the contents on the inside of the ox, the less they roll around and spread. Also, you can get some cute small lidded containers for condiments that may help. I used to drain wet things like pickles on a bit of paper towel or a bamboo strainer to get extra juice off.

Thanks Erin -

I am starting to get the hang of it. Today I used the leftover shrimp and beans to make lettuce tacos. Used a separate container to put all of the other things in so that they would stay dry.

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Erin, that bento box is just like my husband's - until the boss scrapped the microwave, he could heat his rice too. The separate containers help with liquid "creep". Apart from little paper cups etc, you can use herb leaves as plates/dividers (shiso is good but lemon balm would work too), or put a bit of ground peanut or sesame,or shredded konbu underneath items likely to shed liquid.

Recent bento items at our house...boiled greens mixed with boiled and sliced funghi, dressed with soy sauce and a dash of mirin, and lightly squeezed or drained. Mixing greens with lightly boiled and drained chrysanthemum petals is pretty too.

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I've also used silicone cupcake ..er cups as containers for the liquidy prone items.

Fat Guy to inject variation and excitement in to the lunches for you and your son, have you considered different shapes and designs with cookie cutters and crafting die cutters? You could, at a minimum, make a small planet out of those monster grapes!

:unsure:


Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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I'm so disappointed with myself for not using cookie cutters, not using my rice molds, only ever using the egg molds once, never making checkerboard sandwiches, never rolling my own maki, etc. I had grand plans to become the Greatest American Bento Maker but have settled for much less. The good thing about forcing myself to post a photo of every lunch here is that I can get some peer pressure. Because you can be sure there's no peer pressure from the other parents at my son's school. You should see what their kids get for lunch.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If you start doing the checkerboard sandwiches and such, I think the parents will be pressuring you in a different way. I can just hear their kids now. . . "Mommmmmmmmyyyyy! Why does PJ get all the cool lunches while we get crap? I want checkerboard sandwiches, too!"

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you could be a hero in your son's lunch time

:wub:


Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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The thing is, that already happens. Even though by real Bento standards the lunches I make are unremarkable, they are 99.9th percentile by American school-lunch standards. The teachers, the other parents and the other kids all think PJ's lunches are so fantastically creative because he gets exotic things like avocado maki. I need you people to push me and remind me that I'm actually a slacker and not a superstar.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm so disappointed with myself for not using cookie cutters, not using my rice molds, only ever using the egg molds once, never making checkerboard sandwiches, never rolling my own maki, etc. I had grand plans to become the Greatest American Bento Maker but have settled for much less. The good thing about forcing myself to post a photo of every lunch here is that I can get some peer pressure. Because you can be sure there's no peer pressure from the other parents at my son's school. You should see what their kids get for lunch.

As parent to three (actually now two since one is at college and at the mercy of their food system), it's not easy to get up on these very dark mornings and get lunches ready for 6:50 or 7:20 am times and have them look pretty and be inventive. I have great intentions every evening, but when I try and shake my sorry ass out of bed in the dead of night (6:00 am), I opt for simple. Since almost all of it is homemade, I just figure I'm doing better than a lunchable.

I know when I worked outside the house, I was really lucky. We had a fridge, a freezer, a two burner cooktop, a microwave, a toaster and a toaster oven. Sure made it a lot easier!

My kids don't have Bento boxes per se, but cook lunch boxes with containers.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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You might also consider the venerable "toastie" http://www.amazon.com/Toastie-Heaven-Reasons-Sandwich-Toaster

and the small 2-chamber electric appliances can be found quite cheap.

I recently saw a Proctor-Silex at WalMart for $10.99 and there was a Melitta for about the same.

Back in the days that I had kids at home, I only had the stove-top type and they hung right next to the stove and were used several times a week. The kids loved them and I was able to "sneak" in some healthy ingredients that were usually avoided.

My stepson was especially fond of pimento cheese (homemade) with pickle relish. Something that did not appeal to me but was apparently popular at school.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The thing is, that already happens. Even though by real Bento standards the lunches I make are unremarkable, they are 99.9th percentile by American school-lunch standards. The teachers, the other parents and the other kids all think PJ's lunches are so fantastically creative because he gets exotic things like avocado maki. I need you people to push me and remind me that I'm actually a slacker and not a superstar.

If you've convinced the other kids, then you're doing well. Melchi is a year younger than PJ, I think, and they're a tough crowd. The teachers are always enthusiastic that I'm giving Melchi different foods every day, and they seem impressed by the bento format, but he's often just not hungry at lunch time, I think, so he doesn't eat much. Most of the foods I give him are things he's liked at other times.

I'm also on snack duty this week. Normally they've been getting pretty much the same thing from every parent--apples, bananas, grapes, other fruit, maybe some raw veggies, pitas or mini-bagels with cream cheese (including Tofutti "cream" "cheese" for the ones with milk issues--I brought in some goat cheese and suggested they ask the parents of the kids with milk allergies whether they could tolerate it, since it would at least be food rather than emulsified Crisco and water with the sparest hint of Tofu). The cucumber and carrot maki and avocado maki that I made appealed to a few of the kids, but most weren't interested, though the teachers approved. I made some little pies with spinach, potatoes and carrots that my wife and I thought were really great and a nice change of pace for the kids. They were enthusiastic at first, because they expected a sweet pastry and were a bit weirded out to find vegetables inside, so most of them ate the crust and ignored the spinach. I think tonight I'll just make some mini-bagels. I also supplied the requested fruits, juices and cheeses, so they aren't going hungry.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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It's funny - I've been begging my teen daughter for over a year now to let me make her lunch. She hates most of the school lunches and has been buying a bagel every day instead and then coming home ravenous. As I posted above, I finally convinced her to let me make lunch based on this thread. Although she kept saying it was not cool to bring lunch, some of her lunchmates are now craving her lunch and wait every day to see what she brings. Her best friend however brings PB&J every day and can't imagine deviating from this perfect lunch. I used leftover shrimp and Christmas lima beans to make tacos yesterday. Apparently, several people were so intrigued and had to try a lima bean. Today, she asked for a little more so that she can share. :laugh:

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Sharing is one of the big advantages of obento...since there are lots of little things, it works better than with sandwiches! Mothers almost always pack stuff to share in bento for special events - sports day, school trips, etc.

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Due mostly to the allergy culture, sharing is strictly forbidden at our son's school as well as at the schools of many other families I know here in the US.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Well, another week went past without much growth in my bento making. And over the weekend I never managed to acquire new containers, new products, etc., so this week's lunches will be remarkably similar to what has come before. But for the record here are the last two lunches from last week.

Wednesday: avocado maki, cucumber, mozzarella balls and hummus, "Pirate's Booty" crunchy cheese puffs, a banana halved with notches made to facilitate peeling

bentos17.jpg

Thursday: hard-cooked egg in bunny mold, cheddar cheese, apple slices, cucumbers, pita chips

bentos18.jpg


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Part of PJ's haul from Halloween consists of several (maybe 8) small bags of Utz Halloween pretzels. So this week the plan is that he'll be getting such a bag with each lunch. I still haven't been through the debriefing process with him, though, so I don't actually know if he was able to open the bag himself yesterday (one of the lunch rules is that the kids are supposed to be able to open everything without help from the teachers). Anyway ... aside from the "Bats & Jacks" Halloween pretzels, yesterday's lunch was all stuff we've seen before: avocado maki, mozzarella-and-tomato, apple, cantaloupe, fork, spoon.

bentos19.jpg


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Crispin Apples are supposed to be the type thats browns off the slowest.

Steven does PJ ever eat the apple slices with the cheddar cheese?(it's so good, makes the cheese go all creamy from the acid in the apples)

I havent seen any bagel chips yet, you could just have a deli run a few through the slicer then toast them off at home. The premade bagel chips seem unnecessarily greasy to me.

Near the apple display in most local markets is a caramel dip that is just so evil and good, maybe mixed with some cream cheese to cut the sugar content it would still be a great fruit dip.

Now I have to go have apples and cheddar for breakfast

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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Part of PJ's haul from Halloween consists of several (maybe 8) small bags of Utz Halloween pretzels. So this week the plan is that he'll be getting such a bag with each lunch. I still haven't been through the debriefing process with him, though, so I don't actually know if he was able to open the bag himself yesterday (one of the lunch rules is that the kids are supposed to be able to open everything without help from the teachers).

bentos19.jpg

If he can't get it open, make a tiny snip in the top of the bag -- just partway through the sealed edge.

Further uptopic, you mentioned that there hasn't been much growth in your bento making. As a mom who has been making lunches for school kids for some 14 years, I have noted that my kids like familiar. Sort of like how they enjoy watching the same movie over and over again. Peter wants a sandwich -- either ham/cheddar or turkey/pepper jack, fruit and a cookie. He gets milk at school, and lunch for the middle schoolers is only 20 minutes long, so if I pack a bigger lunch, he brings some home. I'm lucky with Heidi. She's in a special ed room with a fridge, stove and microwave, so you can guess where leftover pasta dishes and casseroles go!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Yesterday was an egg molded to look like a bear, cheddar cheese, pita chips, cucumbers, apple sauce and Halloween pretzels. I heard from Monday that he hadn't been able to open the Halloween pretzels without teacher assistance so I cut a little way into the package to make it easy starting. For whatever reason, this lunch achieved 100% consumption.

bentos20.jpg

I've had a bunch of personal stuff going on this week, and this morning I couldn't believe I had to pack lunch. Luckily last night was Tuesday, sushi night, so I had an avocado roll ready to go. There were additional molded eggs, so I packed a kitty egg. Some crackers. The Halloween pretzels, but this time I took them out of the bag. Apple sauce again. A banana. Somehow a lunch came together.

bentos21.jpg

I can't believe I have to do this tomorrow too.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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