Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My TOTALLY Square My Square Meal

I was super excited to try out my new My Square Meal bento lunch box. I like the different-sized compartments and the idea behind this box was really fun. 
The My Square Meal box was designed by teacher/moms who call themselves the Lunch Ladies to solve a problem they saw in the lunchroom: kids filling up on just one or two of the full-sized food items they had in their lunches - usually the snack or dessert items, like chips and cupcakes. The solution? Smaller portions of a greater variety of foods. Which has been my attitude all along. She can't fill up on just a mini-cupcake, so still has room for her healthier foods.  So this box sounded right up my alley!
They sent me the yellow one to review, but  they are also available in red! They also have cute lunch bags to hold them, but I wasn't sent one to review. These bento boxes are 8" x 8", so they don't fit in most bags, but I have larger insulated totes from Trader Joes, so I wasn't too concerned. Not as cute and stylish and school-worthy, but I can keep the box flat this way, while their bags are designed to hold them sideways.
CoJack and cheddar squares, carrot squares, letter cookies, mini Saltines
and Special K crackers, apple squares, turkey squares, ham squares
When the My Square Meal box first arrived, Z had initially been disappointed that it wasn't purple with flowers. But that quickly turned into "when can I have this for my beautiful lunch?"
I had a feeling that with the upright-standing-lid that this wouldn't be fantastic in the car, so since most of our "beautiful lunches" are eaten on the go, it took me a while to have the right circumstances to finally try this out: a day with no morning plans, so we'd be home for lunch, and time to actually get it done before lunchtime!

She was super excited to get her lunch in this box finally, and loved the square theme I did using my FunBites Cube It! cutter. The cheese and meat were easy to cut, and I saved the scraps for making pocket sandwiches later. The carrot was cut into planks lengthwise to get the most squares per cut as possible, but if you have the time and inclination (and want the lighter markings in the core of the carrot as a sort of star in the center, rather than a stripe across the square,) it works great on carrot coins too. For the apple I cored it and cut it into 1/4" planks vertically. My apple was a bit mealy, so it broke up a lot with the cutter. And it wouldn't punch through the peel, so I had to hand-cut the peel part for those slices.
But the squares fit into the compartments perfectly! It was like they were made for each other!
The letter cookies came from Albertsons.
To keep with the square theme, I used some square picks from my checkered picks set.
checker picks
Since she was still working on her lunch when we had to leave that afternoon for my doctor appointment, we ended up using it in the car anyway! As expected, it was hard for her to adjust to. I hadn't wanted to risk setting it with the lid side at her knees, in case the lid overbalanced and toppled the whole thing off her lap. So I set it sideways and the lid kept slamming shut on her left fingers when she tried using her right arm to eat. She got the hang of it pretty quickly, but there were several minutes of crying there at the beginning. And it almost got thrown in frustration.

What I liked least:
  • I was not a fan of the grooves for dividers. This is clearly the same mold as a tackle or craft box, but made with food-safe plastics. I wish they had food-safe dividers included, or at least available separately to customize this even more.
  • Because the lid stays on, and doesn't bend all the way back, it would not be ideal in the car, or anyplace else where the table surface moves, like on a boat or RV. Could also pose problems at a busy lunch table with lots of little excited arms flailing around. The lid stays upright pretty well on its own, but too much wiggling or bumping it and it slams shut. Also takes up a ton of space in the dishwasher.
  • Because the corners are sharp instead of rounded in all the compartments, could be hard to get sauce or dip cleaned out properly.
What I liked most:
  • Dishwasher-able! For those of us who aren't big on hand-washing! Hoody-hoo!
  • Long compartment is large enough for regular-sized utensils! Don't have to use fancy bento or toddler-sized ones just to get them to fit!
  • The FunBites squares fit perfectly - like they were designed for each other!
  • All those compartments motivate and challenge me to choose a wider array of foods and food groups. When I serve lunch on a plate or in a bowl, it tends to be just one or two foods, like a sandwich and orange, or hot dog and cheese stick. But with this, I had to keep thinking of what I could put into the other compartments and ran through the food groups in my head to make sure I had some of everything.
Disclaimer: I received a free My Square Meal box to review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

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