Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Happy Bento! Lunches On The Go Book Review

I am elated to share my review of the book, Happy Bento! by my friend Anna Adden. It is a book which excels in so many ways. For someone new to making bento lunches for their child or even for themselves, this is a perfect guide to start with. Even those who have been packing lunches for years would likely find handy tips and tricks or be inspired by her examples. It is exceptionally well organized beginning with a clearly written introduction and a section on bento making supplies complete with photographs and helpful suggestions on how to use them.

She includes chapters for Basic Bentos, Fun Bentos, Special Day Bentos, Holiday Bentos, and Season Bentos, each of them featuring wonderful examples with complete instructions including a list of supplies used, the ingredients, and step-by-step instructions. All of them are accompanied by beautiful photographs. The photos that accompany the instructions make them easy to follow, and "WOW!" is the word that comes to mind for the ones of the resulting bentos.


Below is a bento that was inspired by the cover photo from Anna's book Happy Bento!
As you can see, though it was inspired by Anna's beautiful work, I made modifications to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand and our son's preferences. I used a daisy cookie cutter for the sandwich, added a couple of candy eyes and a cheddar cheese smile. Alongside is a babybel cheese which I used a small flower cookie cutter for the cutout. On the left are some strawberries in a square silicone cup with a couple of flower picks and flower shaped cucumber slices. This lunch was packed in a Planetbox shuttle.


Daisy bento

Below is a photo showing the inside of the book where you can find step by step instructions for creating the bentos she featured just like she did, which many will find very helpful.
Every page has something wonderful, either a helpful tip, or an inspiration perhaps for something similar using your own favorite foods. I admit that I'm a foodie, so this is a book I can enjoy any time and any place. I'll keep my copy always close to hand! I believe you would also enjoy visiting her blog becomingabentoholic.


Disclosure: Cedar Fort, Inc. sent me this book to review without cost to me. I have received no other compensation for this review and the opinions I’m expressing here are solely my own.
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Monday, August 24, 2015


Back to School Lunch

I can't believe that today is the first day of school for us and Nikolai will be in Grade 5. It's also time for us to get back into a normal routine after enjoying the freedom to create our own highly flexible schedule.

We attended the school open house on Saturday and we are super pleased with his class placement as well as his teacher, about whom we had heard many favorable comments. For me, it's always a bittersweet time when Nikolai starts a new grade. Like many parents, I always feel he is growing up too quickly and now this will also be his last year in elementary school. All in all, we are looking forward to a great new school year. I'm quite confident that he is ready to give his studies his best effort. While we have all greatly enjoyed his summer vacation, his naturally studious and organized nature suggest he will make a quick and successful return to his school books.

Here is Nikolai's first day back to school lunch. I chose to make this one a near recreation of last years one which can be seen here. I changed the multiplication problem on the book sandwich to one of division with the result being 5, lines made from nori and the numbers from fruit leather. I also used the numeric five cutter on the babybel cheese. His other sides are organic baby carrots with a cupcake pick, Annie's organic crackers, red and green grapes.

Back to school lunch, grade 5,

This lunch was packed in his Planetbox rover.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Review: PlanetBox BottleRocket Water Bottle

The nice people over at PlanetBox presented me the opportunity to try out their BottleRocket water bottle, and in this post I will share my pleasurable experience testing it. It arrived about a month ago, packed nicely with the main part in one carton and the base and cap in another. The base attaches by lining up the notches and pegs and giving a partial twist. The cap screws on after filling and has a quick release spring loaded cover over the spout.

We have had other water bottles which have pop-up or fold out straws that I've sometimes found difficult to clean to my satisfaction or difficult to replace. The spout on the BottleRocket is very easy both to use and easy to clean.

We got busy with the testing, to see if it really kept the water cold and find out if it was indeed leakproof. There are not many places hotter than Florida in July and August, so I figured that if it could keep the contents cool after many hours out doors in the mid day heat, well I couldn't think of a more rigorous real world test than that! Nikolai reported that it was quite cold. For the next test I closed the cap and carried it around in my handbag. If there is a time when something will develop a leak, for sure it will be in your handbag, but again I am pleased to report that the water stayed in the BottleRocket.

Another feature that is quite subtle, but also very nice is that the base prevents the BottleRocket from rolling away. If you have had the experience of one rolling off the table and across the floor you will appreciate this. All together the rocket shaped insulated bottle is a fun concept that is beautifully designed with great features and superb quality.

The photo below shows the BottleRocket assembled and the cartons in which the components arrived. Below that is a photo of the BottleRocket with the cap removed and opened to show the spout. The last of the photos shows the rocket themed lunch I made packed in a PlanetBox Shuttle alongside our BottleRocket water bottle. 





Below is a rocket theme bento I made for Nikolai. The larger compartment holds a sandwich which was hand cut to a rocket shape. The port holes were cut using circle cutters and the rocket's fins were hand cut from strawberry fruit leather. The rocket's propulsion is half of a strawberry. In the other compartment I included some strawberries, seedless green grapes with a rocket and a star shaped pick. It was packed in our PlanetBox Shuttle and accompanied by the PlanetBox BottleRocket. 

PlanetBox BottleRocket water bottle Review, Rocket Lunch

Here are some of the things I really liked about the Bottle Rocket:
  • I found it to be truly leakproof after testing it for several days.
  • The contents stayed cold even after hours in Florida summer heat.
  • It is easy to open with the push of a button designed for little hands.
  • The cap keeps the the spout, which I much prefer over straws clean and sealed.
  • The Bottle Rocket's ridges provide an easy grip.
  • There’s a locking mechanism so that you can’t accidentally press the “open” button.
The only suggestion that I could make, would be to make it also available in larger sizes in addition to the present size of eleven ounces.

PlanetBox has a well deserved reputation for high-quality products and their BottleRocket is an excellent example.

Disclosure: PlanetBox generously provided me with the item without cost to me. Other than receiving the item, I have not received any compensation to write this review. All opinions are my own.


Disclosure: PlanetBox generously provided me with the items without cost to me. Other than receiving the items, I have not received any compensation to write this review. All opinions are my own.
This post contains affiliate links. - See more at: http://www.bentoschoollunches.com/2015/04/planetbox-launch-review-mac-bento-and.html#sthash.5KRTNOeA.dpuf
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015


4 DIY Homemade Lunchables

We are having a blast of a summer vacation and and I am quite happy that we still have around three weeks of summer break till school starts.The only thing left for us to even think about relating to school is the school supply list which we received in the mail, we usually get those supplies a week before school starts. Every year, we get Nikolai's school uniforms, new shoes, backpack, lunchboxes, lunchbags, etc, the first weekend after the school year ends. YES, you read it right, as soon as school gets off, so we can start our summer break without talking or even thinking about back to school till the last minute.

I'll update more about our trips in my future posts. As I was looking at my picture archives today, I found so many lunches which I made towards the end of the school year, and which I've not posted. Most of them are in the same category, when I have a lot of other things going on, I like to pack lunches based on the same category or theme for the entire week. I thought that this lunchables post would be great for some easy lunch packing ideas. I may start out packing lunchables myself when school starts and when I might lose my lunch packing mojo.

Many have found Lunchables tasty and convenient especially for meals away from home, but often it is even better if you make your own DIY Lunchables. By taking just a few minutes you can include the foods you like best or those that meet your particular dietary needs. You are in control, so they can be the freshest, most yummy, and even cheaper than what you could find on the store shelves. In addition, you can take that extra minute to cut them into cute shapes, perhaps add some decoration, and arrange them neatly in the box.

All these lunches were enjoyed by Nikolai months ago and they were packed in his Easylunchboxes containers.

This first lunchables was flower themed. I used my small flower shaped cookie cutter to cut the Colby-Jack cheese, cucumber slices and ham. It also had Ritz crackers, pineapple slices and Trader Joe's yogurt stars. The square shaped silicone cups are some of my favorites, they are practical and great for keeping foods separated.

Flower lunchables, bento school lunches

The second DIY lunchables are Applegate nitrate free pepperoni slices with a panda baran sheet, Annie's organic fruit snacks, whole wheat crackers, Colby-Jack cheese cut into circles, veggie sticks and apple pieces. I used some round silicone cups here as well as my favorite square cup. The small house shaped cup was given to me by my friend who lives in Japan years ago.

Applegate lunchables, bento school lunches

The third DIY lunchables include crinkle cut cucumber slices, ham roll ups, whole wheat crackers, a string cheese cut into pieces, all in square shaped silicone cups and also apple slices and veggie sticks.

Easy Lunchables, bento school lunches

The fourth DIY lunchables has slices of cheese bread, pepperoni, mangoes, babybel cheese, strawberries and Annie's organic fruit snack.

DIY lunchables, bento school lunches

Pinterest friendly collage.


Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Captain America Bento

How are y'all doing? It summer here and it's been raining every single day! Time flies when you are having fun and I can't believe it's already July. So far we have been on a few local road trips, with some of the places we have visited being the Orlando Eye, which is a giant ferris wheel which took us 400 feet above the city in a very comfortable capsule, beaches, museums, Legoland and more. We have unlimited visitors passes to Legoland along with some other attractions, and we are looking forward of going back again soon. Next month, we will be traveling out of country and have several other road trips in mind if time permits. We have the tendency of extending our stay and always have to purchase extra clothing, it isn't the style that matters then, but rather the time that matters.

We also have been watching some movies, both old and new, during our family movie nights and one of them was Captain America: The First Avenger. Nikolai asked me why I've not made him a Captain America lunch so I made this one for one of our outings. I've previously made Thor and  Hulk lunches for him which can be seen here.

I used a bagel for Captain America's shield by first filling the center with black grapes (you can also use blueberries), and then surrounding them first with a ring of strawberry fruit leather and then with a ring of provolone cheese which I also used to make the center star. I used my circle cookie cutter for the rings cut-outs. The outermost ring is of organic strawberry jam. In the upper right is a container of organic applesauce and to the left of that are some orange slices to which I added a flag pick. I think this lunch which was packed in a Fit & Fresh bento kit will also be great for the 4th of July.

Avenger Captain America shield fun lunch, Bento School Lunches

This lunch is linked to:

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday


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Thursday, May 28, 2015


Under The Sea Bento

Next week is the last week of school for us before our long summer holiday, for which we are so excited and we can't wait for all the adventures and travel. I have a journal just for summer break in which I record every single fun activity, all of our trips and how we spent each day so that we can look back later and see all the fun we had. Of course it also serves as inspiration for the next year and refreshes the memory of places seen that could be revisited.

I have a huge back log of lunches which I've been packing for Nikolai daily, and those will have to wait till next school year or maybe I'll schedule some posts for summer. I'm not sure for now as blogging is at my back burner, but I'll try to post at least once more next week.

Here are a couple of under the sea themed lunches which he enjoyed a while back. The first lunch was fish shaped nuggets which I purchased from the freezer section at our grocery store. I baked them in the morning while cooking his couscous on the stove. I always let his hot foods cool down several minutes before transferring them to his lunch box. He had octo-cheese cut out of string cheese and I poked the facial accents with a toothpick. He also had fish shaped cheddar crackers, apple slices and a yogurt covered star. This lunch was packed in a Planetbox rover.
 
Under the sea bento, fish nuggets, couscous

The next lunch was easy. Free hand cut nori above whole wheat bread topped with fish and star shaped mild cheddar cheese and a star cupcake pick. His sides were crinkle cut cucumber with a crab shaped cupcake pick, Swedish fish and strawberries. This lunch was packed in a leak-proof Yumbox panino.


This lunch was linked to:
Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Dinosaur and Field Trip Bento

I hope everyone had a great weekend. We had a three day long weekend and it was quite refreshing. Nikolai went on a field trip last week to MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) in Tampa which is about 2-3 hours drive one way from where we are. This was his first trip out of town in a bus and also a trip without us. I was kind of worried and had butterflies in my stomach when I dropped him off at school that morning. Guess I can't help it, being a parent, and I am sure the other parents felt the same too.

We have been to MOSI before and there is a life-size dinosaur sculpture called Recyclosaurus Rex at the entrance. It was that shape which inspired these lunches. There are a great many interesting and educational exhibits at MOSI and many are interactive. I would certainly recommend a visit there to anyone visiting the Tampa area. 

In making this first bento, I used my Wilton animal pals dinosaur shaped cookie cutter for the dinosaur and a palm tree cutter for the tree. Other cutters made the lower dinosaur and the ones cut from watermelon. I also included some slices of cucumber and some grapes with a cute dino pick.
This lunch was packed in a leak proof Yumbox Panino

Dinosaur, Palm tree, bento school lunch,Yumbox

This lunch was linked to:

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

The next dinosaur lunch was created using my dyno sandwich crust cutter which was very easy to use. I've owned this cutter since Nikolai started Kindergarten and it's from one of my earlier collections. I used my alphabet cutter for the letter 'D' on a babybel cheese. He also had strawberry slices, Annie's homegrown organic crackers and crinkle cut cucumber slices.
This lunch was packed in a Planetbox Rover.

Dinosaurs, bento school lunch, planetbox

His field trip lunch was very simple; a thick turkey and Gouda cheese sandwich cut into half with MOSI lettering, organic granola bar cut into half and seedless grapes. I also sent him a huge snack box and a couple bottles of water which were not in picture.

MOSI field trip lunch

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015


Pac-Man Bento and Lunchables

The other day while we were having a conversation Nikolai asked me whether I've played the Pac-Man game before. I am certain that I have seen the game, but I'm really not much into video gaming. I've heard that it was, and perhaps still is, quite popular.

I decided to try creating a Pac-Man lunch for him. It was quite easy to make, I used a circle cutter to shape a sandwich topped with a slice of mild cheddar cheese and then removed a sector to create the Pac-Man. I used my Japanese bento cutter for the ghosts but you can also use a small ghost cookie cutter from your Halloween cutter collection if you have one. They are bite sized mini sandwiches, two were topped with fruit leather and the other with provolone cheese.
I also included some orange and apple slices and in the other section there are some cucumber slices cut with my crinkle cut knife. To the far right I included a mozzarella string cheese.

Pac-Man bento school lunch

Here is a simple bento which Nikolai enjoyed on a different day. I had no idea as what to pack that day and went with some foods that I had on hand. Looked like lunchables to me, thus the title. He had rolled up honey ham, cheddar cheese slices, cucumber slices, wheat thins crackers, orange, strawberry slices and Yoplait Gogurt.

Lunchables school lunch

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.

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Monday, May 18, 2015


Dinner Rolls Bear and Pinwheel Bento

We have been counting down to end of the school year which will be early next month, and there are some projects and activities at Nikolai's school which makes life a little hectic this time of the year but all is good. With the count down and discussions about trips, my bento making enthusiasm seems to be fading.
This was the first time I sent dinner rolls for school lunch and Nikolai came home with an empty lunch box. I tried to cut the dinner rolls to create the bear ears but they didn't turn out as well as intended. Maybe the bread was too soft and the ears were not holding up or I should have used a tiny piece of uncooked spaghetti to hold it up. Well, I may recreate this sometime again in the near future. I hope then the result will be nicer.
The main section contained a couple of ham and cheese dinner rolls with nori eyes, I used my CuteZCute cuddle palz cutter for the nose and free hand cut the ears. His sides were organic baby carrots, ranch for dip in the yellow container and apple pieces. This lunch was packed in a Monbento Tresor.

Dinner rolls bear, bento school lunch, Monbento Tresor

Here is a simple pinwheels lunch with pretzel thins in the main compartment, cucumber slices and orange slices as sides. This lunch was also packed in a Monbento Tresor.

Pinwheels bento school lunch, Monbento Tresor

Here are the supplies or similar that I used to create and pack these lunches.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015


Pancake Muffins and Pancake sausages, Breakfast For Lunch

As I've mentioned in my previous post about the breakfast which Nikolai made for me on Mother's day, one of the foods was chocolate chips pancake muffins. He followed my favorite recipe which can be found here. This recipe has made it to my personal recipe book. You see, I have this book in which I only write down the recipes which I've tried a gazillion times and which my family loves. The muffins which Nikolai made tasted fantastic, the only thing was, the chocolate chips sank to the center, but the flavor was there. I told him that "Practice Makes Perfect" and maybe he should bake more often.

He saved a couple for his lunchbox to have at school on Monday. I though I'd better post this first instead of my other back logged lunches. The main compartment contains the pancake muffins, Yoplait Gogurt and some sausages which I cooked and let cool in the morning before packing them into his Easylunchboxes container. His sides were watermelon cubes and Annie's homegrown organic granola bar cut into half. The picks which added instant cuteness to this simple lunch can also be used as forks, which I really like. :)

Homemade pancake muffins breakfast for lunch

Here is another breakfast for lunch which he enjoyed a month or so ago. It was sausages covered in pancake, seedless red grapes, applesauce in a leak-proof mini dipper, Annie's organic cheddar bunnies and seedless green grapes. This lunch was packed in an Easylunchboxes urban container.

pancake sausages breakfast for lunch

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.

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Monday, May 11, 2015


Despicable Me Minion Bento

I had a fun Mother's Day weekend showered with food, presents and extra pampering. Nikolai made breakfast with a little help from daddy on Sunday, serving my favorite bacon, scrambled eggs, pancake muffins with choc chips, pudding and some fruits. We saved some pancake muffins for his bento since he suggested that breakfast for lunch would be good on Monday.

We went to Universal Orlando sometime back and of course enjoyed the rides. Nikolai, while we were there, purchased a plush backpack, plush toy, drink container etc from the Universal store as he was excited about the Despicable Me characters then. He showed no interest in them after several weeks later and I think he only used the backpack for a couple of times. When we ask him he'll reply, "yes, I still like Minions" and quickly return to his greater interest.

Since no one was interested in the cake decorations after the pictures were taken at my friends child's Minion themed birthday party, I asked if I could keep the decorations! So, here are a couple of Minion themed lunches in which I used the cute accessories from a party to create.
The first lunch was a sandwich cut into circle shaped with my favorite circle cookie cutter topped with a Minion on float cake decoration, his sides were organic baby carrots with hummus for dip, Annie's organic cheddar bunnies with a minion pick, a Babybel cheese with the letter 'G' cut-out and organic kiwi slices, packed in a Planetbox rover.

Despicable Me Minion bento school lunch

The next lunch was so easy to make, I removed the crust from the bread and added some cheddar cheese alphabet cut-outs "Ba Ba Ba, Ba Ba, Na Na" with a banana pick on the sandwich. His sides were cucumber slices with a minion pick and apple slices, all packed in a Planetbox shuttle.

Despicable Me Bento Lunch, Banana

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Avengers Thor and Hulk Bento

We watched the movie Avengers: Age Of Ultron on the weekend and enjoyed the movie, can't say more, no spoiler alerts here. I like action heroes and I believe these are my first hero themed lunches. My personal favorite is Thor and I've watched the Thor movies as well, several times I would say.

For this THOR bento I made some Thor hammers from pretzel sticks and cube Mozzarella cheese. The T-H-O-R lettering was cut from mild cheddar with my alphabet cookie cutters, the A above the grapes and next to the baby carrots was free hand cut from fruit leather, and the one in the center is an alphabet cookie from IKEA. I also included a Thor yogurt from Yoplait GoGurt Avengers Collection. This lunch was packed in a Planetbox rover.

Avengers Thor bento school lunch, planetbox rover
This lunch was linked to:
Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

I also like Hulk since I used to watch the incredible hulk t.v series when I was younger. Have you watched the series before? The main section contains a Thomas bagel thin and with the same alphabets cookie cutters I cut HULK from smoked Provolone cheese. In the lower left section I made the hulk face from a slice of honeydew melon (cut with a circle cutter) with nori hand cut for the hair and eyebrows candy eyes and another piece of Provolone cheese for the mouth. In the upper left section I included some organic baby carrots and some Annie's organic cheddar bunnies in a silicone cup. This lunch was packed in a Planetbox launch.

Avengers Hulk bento school lunch, Planetbox Launch

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.

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