I have a very creative friend named Beth Savage who makes her son the most adorable bento lunches and as we look at going back to school one of the things I dread most is packing lunches. After seeing what Beth does, I realized I have been packing my kids lunches all wrong. Who knew lunches could be this fun?
I had to ask Beth how she came up with these ideas and here is what she shared with me.
Karen: Where did you get the idea to make these very creative lunches?
Beth: Mostly online. I remember when we switched daycares and I was told I would have to pack a lunch. Yikes! I of course turned to the internet (it solves all my problems! haha). I saw the idea of a “bento box” – it’s from the Japanese’s culture. Google “bento” or search Flickr for “bento” and look at some of the pictures. They are amazing!
I also liked the idea that there is no waste. No plastic baggies, or wrappers etc. – I found it was also easier for my son to get to his lunch himself without having to rely on busy teachers to open things for him. There are MILLIONS of ideas online. I get most from a collection of websites. Google: “Bento for kids”
Karen: What was the initial investment you made on containers, reusable muffin liners, food writing pens and cookie cutters?
Beth: I don’t recall the initial investment. It was gradual. The first thing I bought was the containers – EasyLunchboxes 3-compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers (Set of 4)– I then found the silicone muffin cups at a store called “Nood” – the ones at Michael’s are crazy expensive and are pastel colours (kinda girly). You can generally find them at any baking store. I got a huge bin of 101 cookie cutters from Michaels with one of their 40% off coupons which made it pretty cheap. I bought fun ice packs at Save On for a dollar (the 2010 Olympic ones). The icing eyes are the only ongoing investment; also bought at Michaels and I always try to use a coupon. Oh, and the markers – they were pricey, but with the coupon it was ok. Again, I did NOT buy all this stuff at once. It was very gradual.
So overall… maybe $60 for all the supplies…give or take. Then over time you get an eye for stuff at the dollar store for things that could work. I also love www.allthingsforsale.com.
Karen: How much planning do you put into your lunches?
Beth: Not much! I generally don’t think about it until I am doing it. I plan what groceries to buy for the lunch, but that isn’t any different from “regular” lunch packers. I put more thought into it is when it’s a holiday or a birthday or any special day, then I try to make the lunch reflect that day. TIP: go to Michael’s AFTER a holiday to get good discount on cookie cutters, picks, etc. then you have a stock for next year.
Karen: What tips do you have for others starting out?
Beth: HAVE FUN! Don’t worry about an “initial investment” – you can invest a lot or nothing, just be creative and use when you have. The dollar store has cookie cutters, fun containers, even cute shaped silicone mini bread loaf pans and lots of stuff to get you started!
I can not wait to make lunches this school year! I have gone through my cookie cutters, reusable muffin liners and need to pick up only a few items to get started.
I hope these ideas inspire you to re think your child’s school lunches as it did for me. I would like to thank Beth Savage for sharing with me her ideas and photos!
What goes into a bento lunch for kids? Easy to eat finger foods like mini-sandwiches, pre-cooked pasta, veggies, fruit, and other treats work best. If you are looking for even more inspiration, check out these resources:
- 21 Healthy Lunchbox and Snack Ideas
- O’bento Lunch 4 Kidz has the most beautiful pictures and creative ideas
- Laptop Lunches has ideas, recipes and an online store
- Our post on Fun Kids Lunches with Bento
- 21 Healthy Lunchbox Ideas
By Karen Owen of KarenMomofThree’sCraftBlog