Monday, September 12, 2011

WFLW - Back to School Bento

The first day of preschool this year also happened to be her first day of drop-off preschool (we've been doing a co-op the past two years, where I've been there the whole time.) And this was also the first time she's ever been left with virtual strangers. (She got to meet the teachers once last May and again a week before class started.)  I worked all Summer preparing her for the concept, and we spent countless days at Little Gym and ballet camps to get her used to spending 3 hours having fun without me and looking to teachers for guidance and help (while I stayed in the lobby in case she needed me.) We read her story books about being scared of starting preschool like Froggy Goes to School, coping books like The Kissing Hand, and books about how much we love her like I Love You Because You're You. And we moved her to the child-teacher gym class once she turned 3, instead of a parent-child class, also to get her used to trusting in, accepting help from, and seeking praise from an adult other than me.
Since our first day of school also happened to be on a Little Gym day, so we had gym class first, then an hour before school. So I decided that an in-car lunch was in order, and wanted to make it extra special.

Back-to-School Bento
PBH 'apple' w/cheese ABC and gummy worm, Cheddar Bunnies, mixed veggies,
sprinkles (in bunny container,) apple slices, Greek yogurt w/ABC sprinkles
As with most of my eating-on-the-go lunches, I opted for one of our EasyLunchBoxes.
I used an apple-shaped cutter to make a small peanut-butter-honey sandwich, and tucked a sour gummy worm coming out, just for fun. I also used my plastic ABC super-mini cutters to make mozzarella ABCs to go on top. I used a toothpick to poke small holes for the A and B, since these cutters are just the outer lines of the letters. (Wilton also makes a set for cutting fondant, with the inner bits cut-out too, but they only work on really thinly-sliced cheese, and this was already pre-sliced too thick for them.)
The Annie's Cheddar Bunnies were a special request she had made the night before, plus I had space to fill in my box. :) I turned a Wilton Snappy Stripes liner inside-out to keep them separated.
I used another liner for the veggie assortment. We had two snap-peas and a few carrot flowers leftover from a previous lunch, plus some cherry tomatoes from the Farmer's Market. I tossed in a sprig of broccoli to make it look more festive.
I sliced up a Gala apple and sloshed it in some apple juice to prevent browning, and put some in each of our lunches (and the slices that wouldn't fit went into a Take N Toss bowl in the fridge (what's the point of avoiding plastic baggies in the lunches if I'm just gonna waste use them to store leftovers in the friggie?))

In the little green bunny-head box (bento supplies, bought on eBay. Search for bento sauce, mayo, or condiment cups or boxes) I used a mix of unsweetened Kool-Aid powder and ABC/123 quins sprinkles for the yogurt. We usually get Greek Honey-flavored yogurt, which is plenty sweet already, which counters the tartness of the Kool-Aid powder. But if her yogurt is 'plain,' she demands honey, which just adds more sugar calories. I like the quins (the flat wafer-y type ones,) as well as non-pareils (tiny balls,) and jimmies (wormy-looking ones) instead of sugar sprinkles because they have less sugar per tsp, but are still fun and exciting. Plus the unsweetened drink powders, for added flavor and color. [For those of you concerned with artificial flavors/colors, look into True Lemon, which is an all-natural crystallized fruit juice. They make lemon, lime, orange, lemonade and raspberry lemonade.]
To make it more fun for the picture (since she likes getting to add the sprinkles and powder herself at lunchtime,) I painstakingly placed ABC and 123 quins on the yogurt.
I don't have a photo of her with her lunch, since she'd been anticipating getting her new "first day of big-girl preschool" bribe present after gym class. She chose a Lalaloopsy doll we found at Wal-Mart the week before while trying to find some rare items for her school supplies and emergency pack list (solar blanket and 5-oz cups. Not 3-oz. Not 7-oz. Sheesh. I hear Target carries the cups but not the solar blanket, Fred Meyer had neither, and we had been passing by a Wal-Mart for some reason, so I just bit the bullet and went in. *sigh*) She spent every single day since I bought it asking to open the doll, and singing songs about "Tippy Tumbelina" (the one she chose.)
So I took pics of her playing with her doll and handed over the lunch just before taking off for school, rather than spending time watching her enjoy her lunch before driving off.
"Shhh... Tippy TummeNEEna's seeping!"
She ate the sour gummy worm, the cheese ABCs, most of the apples, all of the Cheddar Bunnies, and drank up all the sprinkles and yogurt through a straw. She prefers using a straw for her yogurt, ever since my April Fool's yogurt drink trick, and it's not nearly as messy as eating dribbly yogurt in the car with a spoon! I warn her that the sprinkles may clog up the straw, but so far we haven't had any problems. [I cut a plastic bendy straw a little shorter to fit in the box and also to make the reach from mouth-to-box just right. I also save the cut-off end to cut up smaller for stringing crafts.]

This school has a system for dropping off the kids where we pull into numbered slots and form lines and they come get our kiddos and take them into the school. (And then bring them back out after for pick-up.) I opted to get her used to the system on Day 1, rather than park and walk her in. *sniff sniff* Bye-bye Baby!
My proud little Preschooler was super excited that they gave her her "very own bag" with her name on it (every kid gets one for memos and projects coming home or notes, permission slips, etc going in.) I hadn't gotten any 'first day of school photos' at our front door before leaving the house, since she was in her gym class clothes, and I hadn't wanted to put her school clothes on just for a picture, then change her into gym clothes, then back into school clothes after gym. So I walked in to pick her up after, so I could be sure and get a photo!
Despite all my worries and preparation, the only tears at preschool were mine as I drove away... and I'm blaming them on pregnancy hormones and her forlorn little expression, rather than a sense of loss for my little girl growing up. So far I've never looked back and wished she was back in a previous phase of her life, and I would have been happy to do drop-off preschool earlier, only I didn't feel she was ready for it (she would cry at NANA's house every 30-minutes until around age 2-and-a-half, and only stopped being upset when left there after being there with her cousin Tay to amuse her as well for a few times. Now she loves it there.)

But I was very pleased that her day went well, since I foolishly had left my phone in the car, so wouldn't have known to come charging to the rescue, had I been needed!
Bento LunchJust a Bunch of Momsense


  1. First days of school can be hard - but it does get easier! I got a jaunty wave from my 9 year old as he marched off to school. I got a hug from my first grader, which made it a little easier on me!

    I love the idea of yogurt through a straw!! Can't wait to try that more spoons getting lost at school!

  2. Oh my goodness she is adorable! And that bento is too cute. Perfect for school. Glad she did well.

    I'm with Tina- I might have to borrow that straw/yogurt idea!

  3. Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for linking up to the Lunchbox Idea Party! That lunch looks familiar. I think I saw it on the ELB Facebook page! Sooo adorable! I love the ABC cheese!

    Hope you have a great day! :)


  4. She is such a doll! Wish I had it as together when John started preschool. I lucked out, I guess, in that the first year he went half days so only needed a snack!

  5. Great lunch and I love the tips for lowering sugar and artificial colors but still keeping all the fun! Great information for me!

  6. Thank you so much for joining the Back to School Traditions link up!

  7. Fantastic lunch, and awesome pictures of Z!


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