Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bento Boxes for the Fair

Even though I don't have to pack a lunch every day for the kids since I am not sending them off to school, occasions do arise when a packed lunch is necessary. Since me and Gizmo are gluten-free, and I am casein-free, it just makes sense to be prepared for lunch instead of seeing what we can find when everyone gets hungry. Even without the dietary restrictions, I would probably chose to pack lunch anyway, since healthy fast food options can be costly and hard to find when you are talking about feeding a crew like ours.

The problem with packing lunches is that it gets quite dull. Gluten-free sandwiches are alright, but the bread is expensive and the kids get bored of them quickly. I have previously been slightly obsessed with Japanese bento boxes. I played around with preparing bento lunches with containers bought from Target. It was alright, but not enough to hold my interest.

After being stuck somewhere with no good food options available once or twice I decided my lunch packing skills needed improvement. I bit the bullet and ordered me and each of the kids a bento box, along with some cute picks and bento accessories. We also all went and picked out a new insulated lunch bag.

Our field trip to the fair was the second time that I had used the boxes. Since the kids were excited about seeing the animals at the fair, I decided to make their lunches fit the theme.

The bento boxes that we have are two-level ones. I filled the bottom level of each with onigiri (shaped rice) in the shape of a chick, a cow (Gizmo's favorite animal), and a pig. The rice used for the chick was colored with tumeric, and the pig was colored with powder that I made from dehydrated beets. With the beet powder especially, a little went a long way. That is why my pigs are so much brighter pink than what I planned. The chicks beak is a piece of carrot, and the cows' noses, pigs' snouts, and pigs' ears are made of ham. All the eyes and nostrils are nori. I did not succeed in hiding the fact that nori is seaweed from the kids, and next time I will be using something else since they all voted against it. Around the animals, I filled in the space with broccoli. In the top half of the box, I threw in some summer sausage and cheese (minus cheese for mine), and a Wilton silicone muffin cup with nectarines from our tree. The cute little panda in the picture above is a bottle for soy sauce to sprinkle on the rice. The kids each have a different animal for theirs.

This is the boxes stacked up and ready to be put into lunch bags along with drinks. So far, I am really having a lot of fun packing bento boxes, although I do not think they will be quite this intricate every time. The prices are not bad, this is the box that I am using now, and I am happy with the quality. It is much darker in real life though. My box is the dark blue one in the picture.

There are more expensive options as well. I have been considering splurging on this one for myself.