Today I had the opportunity to make my first bento, so I did!! Ellie and I were going to spend some time at the splash park with friends, so I decided to pack a lunch for us to share. Perfect time to try my hand at this new technique, right? So here it is... my very first bento:
I think my container might be a little big, but I don't really know how big a bento box is supposed to be. And maybe, if I weren't calorie counting and trying to lose weight, this might be the right size box, but it seemed like it was a little deep. Anyway, it worked well, and I'll use it again for bento-ing when Ellie and I need to take lunch somewhere. I'll also let her eat the leftovers for snack this afternoon. Here's what I packed into it...
1. Strawberries. These are actually placed all the way across the box and the silicone cup is sitting on a layer of them. Then I filled in around the silicone cup with more strawberries to finish off that section. We shared the strawberries.
2. Macaroni and Cheese. This is leftover from yesterday, so I just threw it in a silicone cup for Ellie to eat. I made it a smiley face by adding hot dog eyes and a fruit leather mouth. I just cut off pieces of the hot dog and fruit leather that are also in the box.
3. Fruit Leather. I used the fruit leather as a barrier between the strawberries and the proteins. I think the proteins might have been just fine against the strawberries, but it was an easy place to put the leather and I wanted to use it for the smile anyway. =D
4. String Cheese. This is at the bottom of the box, right next to the fruit leather. It's still in its wrapper, so I wasn't worried about it getting contaminated.
5. Turkey Hot Dog. This is right on top of the cheese and under the turkey rolls. It's in once piece, except for the two slices I cut off to make the smiley face eyes. This is Ellie's protein.
6. Turkey Deli Meat Rolls. Instead of rolling each of the slices up individually, I just rolled all 5 together and figured I'd roll them separately when it came time to eat. It was laziness. =D This is my lunch protein, so I figured I'd just make do. It worked pretty well.
7. No Sugar Added Blackberry Jam. This is in the little pink Tupperware container at the top of the picture. It's my dipping sauce for the turkey rolls. Weird, but it's low calorie and good. =D
8. Carrots. We were pretty much out of vegetables that I could take along, but I found a little bag of carrots in the fridge, so they came with us at the last minute. They help form a barrier between the proteins (which are cold and lunchmeaty, so they're sort of wet) and the dry goldfish crackers.
9. Goldfish Crackers. These are sort of a filler for the box and snack food, and the carb portion of the box. I put them on the opposite side of the box from the macaroni to help balance out the colors a little. These are Ellie's snack for this afternoon, too, since she didn't really eat them with lunch.
10. Ranch Dressing. I put the ranch in another Tupperware container (the taller, old style midge containers) for dipping carrots. Ellie loves to dip her carrots, so this was *her* container.
I admit, this was more food than Ellie and I needed for lunch. I was sort of shocked by that, because if I'd packed everything into separate containers like I normally do, it would take a lunch box at least twice the size of the bento box to fit it all in. But this was extremely compact and held plenty of food. And I only had a couple lids to keep track of (the lid for my bento box fits right underneath it, so that is nice) instead of 6 or so! I opened it up and held it on my lap while we were at the park and I didn't have to worry about ziplock bags blowing away or gathering together all the containers every time I wanted to stand up. AND the bento box fit nicely into my bag (which also held a towel, change of clothes, sunscreen, nalgene bottle, sippy cup, and diapers) so I only had to carry one bag and my purse (oh, and my chair) to the park and I was set for a couple hours! Easy to do in one trip!
Something else I added to my bento box was a cloth napkin... I layed it out diagonally, folded in two opposing points, and tied the other two points around the box to create a handle. It was cute in its presentation, functional as a handle, and meant that I had a cloth napkin with me while I was eating - something I was glad to have since I forgot a fork for myself and at strawberry quarters with my fingers! I remembered a fork for Ellie (for the mac and cheese) and just tucked that inside the box on top of the carrots. Here's what the finished, packed up bento box looked like:
So there you have it. My first foray into the land of bento. I like it.