Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Lunches for Everyone!

I got to spend two days (and nights) at my sister's house yelling at watching my nieces and Little Z. Now that my sister has EasyLunchboxes, making lunch is a lot easier and a lot more fun over there! I decided to bring my sandwich stamp punchers and a flower veggie cutter to change things up.

Wednesday's pick-up-Tually-from-preschool lunch:
PBJ bunnies (and bird,) raspberries, blackberries, cheese cubes, chewy bar flowers,
carrot flowers, snap peas, butter "duck" sandwiches.
I had a few blackberries (like, three!) and less than half a pint of raspberries left at home, so decided to bring them so they wouldn't go bad while we were gone. I also brought a sliced apple dipper thing I had bought for Z to eat at a meeting with me that we didn't end up opening, and the last of the Colby Jack cheese cubes I had cut up for the Kids Cooking Class that ended up being at my house a few weeks ago. Plus a slice of white American cheese left over from their visit to our house the week before. Good thing! I couldn't find any fruit at my sister's other than some sad looking grapes, and no cheese for the kids! (Apparently there were apples, but they were hiding in a bag in a bowl behind the mixer. So, like, totally easy to find!)
Z's Lunch:
I had planned to put some raspberries and some apple slices (from the apple dipper thing) in their lunches, but when I couldn't find any more fruit, I held back the apples to use the next day, in case I couldn't get a restock before then! So the fruit section is pretty stingy looking.
Tually's Lunch: 
Tually only likes white bread ("without the nuts," which I assume means seeds and oats.) But I couldn't find that either! So since she had eaten some wheat bread at my house (since I told her I didn't have any white bread,) I decided to give it a shot. I had asked her the night before what kind of sandwich she wanted, and what shape she'd like it to be. She chose butter, and a duck shape. So I used the bird punch and called it a duck. Since white American is her favorite cheese now, I used my sister's mini butterfly cutter, giving the shapes and scraps all to her, and giving the other girls some of the Colby Jack cubes I'd brought.
Pilu's Lunch: 
For the sharper-eyed, you might notice that this box looks different. It is. My sister had bought some Ziplock lunch boxes and brought them out Tuesday night when I mentioned that I couldn't find a third EasyLunchbox. Let me tell you. I don't like them. The lids fit tighter, which are good if you really want wet foods without using a separate container or a wax paper or plastic-wrap lid liner. But it was sooooo hard to get on, and then soooo hard to pop off. Seriously. And I don't mean it was hard for the kiddos. I was all but banging it upside-down trying to get it open. Plus I know from past experience with other Ziplock containers, they tend to warp after too much microwaving or high-heat dishwashing, and the lids tend to not fit sooner than that. So while they're only around $3/2 at the grocery store (or $5-6/4) versus $14/4 for the EasyLunchbox ones, they won't last nearly as long. And aren't nearly as sturdy. I've sat on an EasyLunchbox with no ill effects (to the box.) But I have tossed out tons of crushed Ziplock containers. Although if I ever do a bento-themed Kids Cooking Class, I may get these for the kids who don't have EasyLunchboxes to bring from home, just because they're cheaper, and it comes out of my pocket! But only if they're on sale and I have coupons! But I do not like them, and will not buy them for myself. If you're thinking of trying this whole bento-style lunchbox thing, this might be a good way to start, just to see if it's for you. Then get the EasyLunchboxes. (or Goodbyn, or Laptop Lunches, Lunchbots, etc. But unless you're going to go whole-hog, go with EasyLunchboxes. They fit in a variety of cooler bags, unlike the Goodbyn; fit enough food for Mommy and a kid, unlike traditional bento-style boxes; and don't have a bajillion little parts to lose wash, like Laptop Lunches. And the lids are designed so littler kids can get them open without a lever and a Masters in physics.)

I used my veggie cutter on the carrots, but also on some Quaker chocolate-covered chewy bars. These girls make such a mess with them, and I'm often finding otherwise perfectly good hunks of them strewn about the house, covered in cat or dog hair. So I thought it might be fun to make shapes with them. Less waste, less mess, and less chocolate! Plus, you know. Someone has to eat the scraps!
The downside of my genius plan was that the Chewy bars were hard to cut through. I had to really lean on them. My hand had sore red circles from the top of the veggie cutter for two days!

Between them, they ate none of the sandwiches, most of the veggies and fruit, and all the cheese cubes (but not much of the American cheese.) Z ate all her chewy bar flowers; Tually asked why she only got two, but then only actually ate one (even though I told her she could have Pilu's since Pilu hadn't eaten any and had handed me back her tray when she was done.

All the leftovers got condensed into one box and given again later as a snack grazing station, with a refill on the fruit. I ended up eating most of the sandwiches (the others were kicked around on the floor for a while before I discovered them.)

I had planned on going to the store before picking Tually up, so I'd only have two pinballs to herd, but we didn't get out the door in time. But since we were already out and in the car, I drove to school and freaked out the teachers by loitering for a half-hour before pick-up time.

I decided to try going with three kids, since my sister had class after her school day and would be gone until late, and if Unka Rop had to go to the store, he's be home that much later! I parked ext to a cart corral, strapped Pilu into the seat, and made the older two sit in the basket. No kneeling. No standing. Sit only. I got them safely to the front of the store (my sister's biggest fear is that I'll let them all run off in different directions in the parking lot.) We went to Albertson's, and this one had a cart with a 2-seater kiddie car in front! Plus a seat by the push-handle for a third kid. Perrrrrfeeeeect! They weren't fans of taking turns, but I told Tually and Z that Pilu got to stay in the car because she was the youngest and I didn't want to have to be strapping and unstrapping her in everywhere.
I got strawberries, raspberries, bananas, then put back the bananas when the tyrants all demanded a stupid $4 mini watermelon. I got some sliced white American cheese (my sister says the kind at Safeway is really surprisingly good, but the one at Albertson's and Wal-Mart is the plastic-y kind that you'd expect when you hear "American cheese.") I browsed the Colby Jack cheese, but it was just too expensive. I can get it for $2.50/lb at Winco and Costco. $4-5/lb just made me feel ill. Ad then, since they had all been good at taking turns and listening and staying with me (because they were all tied in. But whatever. No one tried a jail-break) they got to pick out a donut each. At $.79 each, and since I wanted one too, they'd be $3.20, so I decided to just cough up the $6 for a dozen. Which was good, since they were my lunch, breakfast the next day and then lunch again. Plus the girls' leftovers.

Thursday's pick-up-Tually-from-preschool lunch:
Butter bears, American cheese bears, chocolate chewy bar flowers; carrots, snap peas;
strawberries, raspberries, apple slices; PBJ bunnies and flowers, PB chewy bar chunks.
My sister had freakishly wide carrots, so I was able to make carrot coins with the flower cut-outs, as well as a bunch of flowers.
Tually's Lunch:
Wednesday night I again asked Tually what kind of sandwich she wanted, and remarked that she hadn't eaten any that day. I let her look at all my shapers, and she chose the bear ("Look! It's like a heart Care Bear!") I decided to do cheese bears to go with the sandwiches. ("What happened to their hearts?")

Since Z hasn't been eating any shapes I make out of strawberries, I didn't bother for hers. And Pilu will eat anything. So I made flowers just for Tually. I sliced a strawberry lengthwise into thirds and just cut flowers out of the two outer slices. (The middle slice went to Z.) To make the strawberry wit a flower taken out, I sliced up lengthwise most of the way, but didn't cut through the top. Then I cut the flower shape out of the still-attached slice and poked it out. Voila!
Pilu's Lunch:
Pilu hadn't really eaten any of the carrot coins the day before, and had just gotten frustrated trying to put the flowers back into the holes at snack later. So I just made carrot sticks out of the skinnier end of the carrot for her.
There was only one chocolate chip chewy bar left, but there were also some PB ones. The flower I tried to cut out of one just crumbled apart, so I didn't bother with the rest and just cut the bar into chunks.
Little Z's Lunch:
This time, to save my hands, I used a short glass to push the cutter down into the chewy bars. A little more awkward and time-consuming, but pain-free!
Only one of the snap-peas got eaten this time (surprisingly, by Tually,) and almost none of the carrots. All the cheese cubes again, but Tually didn't touch her cheese bears. The fruit was a smash hit with my nieces, but Z didn't have any.
However, they ate all the leftovers (Tually even tried a PBJ bunny... and liked it!!)
I finished off all the chewy bar, since I didn't want to set them loose amongst my sister's quilts with chocolate crumbles. *burp* It was a real hardship. I actually liked the PB ones better, even though I don't normally like PB/chocolate items, other than Reese's regular and mini PB cups (not those special shaped holiday ones either. Different kind of PB. I like the regular cups best. Perfect chocolate-to-PB ratio! The little ones aren't as good, but fit directly into my gob so I don't have to risk melted chocolate or messy hands. I hate touching food.)
Later that afternoon, what started as a late snack turned into an early dinner, as they requested more and more butter sandwiches, cheese, raspberries, carrots and cruddy-looking (but apparently still tasty) grapes. I tricked Tually into eating wheat bread by doing a white-on-top, wheat-on-bottom sandwich. I called it a Zebra sandwich, because of the two colored stripes on the side. Next time I might try doing more than two slices and then roll it flatter. Then I cut zebra sandwiches into long skinny strips and called them Butter Fingers. Another big hit. I offered to make peanut butter fingers, but it was a no-go.

*Note: When searching eBay for the sandwich stampers, search various combinations of bento plus sandwich or bread plus stampcutter, shaper or mold

1 comment:

  1. I started Google searching and ended up on Easy Lunchboxes site since I just bought some and from there got to your blog. Love the lunches you packed, so cute yet simple! Thanks for the inspiration! :)



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