Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3 Lunches for Wednesday

Yesterday, I was so wrapped up in Picky Eater's project that I didn't get around to packing lunches until this morning! That was hectic and NOT something I care to do again! Here are lunches for Army man & the girls for Wednesday:

(My apologies for the poor lighting. I have to remember that it's getting darker earlier and I need to get back to packing lunch at 4 like I used to!)

These 3 lunches will show you that you really don't need to make changes from adult to kids lunches if you plan carefully. Army Man has four mini bagel pizzas (Two whole mini bagels topped with spaghetti sauce, mozzarella, and mini turkey pepperonis, baked at 375 for less than 10 minutes); a handful of muscadines (grapes), and a mini cupcake. He's taking Crystal Light to drink. I'm so glad he's off the Atkins diet.


Bayberry has two mini bagel pizzas, a Campari tomato, a few cucumber slices, some muscadines, two mini cupcakes, and a few pretzels. She's taking orange juice to drink.

Picky Eater needs a new nickname. Something less negative. I'll be thinking on it. Anyway, she has two mini pizzas, a few cucumber slices, 4 muscadines, a few pretzels, and a mini cupcake. She's taking milk to drink in her brand new, smaller Sigg brand stainless steel bottle that I got for NINETY-SEVEN CENTS at Dick's Sporting Goods today. What a steal! To give you an idea of how much of a bargain that is, I paid nearly $20.00 for her Hello Kitty Sigg before school started.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Monday's Lunch

Here's Monday's Lunch. Tuesday is grocery day, so we're using up little bits of this and that for lunch. Army Man's lunch, though not pictured: Leftover pork chop, steamed broccoli, peach crisp, and baked beans. Here are the kids' lunches for Monday:

Bayberry: Polenta cut into cute shapes (pizza sauce to dip, not pictured); steamed broccoli, peach crisp; apple slices (dipped in Fruit Fresh to keep them from browning); baked beans. Juice to drink.

Picky Eater: Popcorn; polenta with pizza sauce to dip; cucumber slices, apple slices, and baby carrots: peach crisp. Baked beans in a Thermos. Juice to drink.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

One Hot Lunch & One Cold Lunch

We had Open House at Picky Eater's school this evening, which threw my whole schedule (Home at 3:45, homework, chores, and lunches done before dinner, dinner at 7) off. It was nice to see her new teacher, though, and talk with her gifted class teacher, and see the principal and the rest of the staff. I love her school and all of its teachers. We're lucky to have such a supportive, nurturing learning environment for our little girl. I do wish they'd wake up and smell the lunches, though. It's time for fresh, whole foods for our children.  

It's almost grocery shopping day so the pickings are getting slim, but we're still bringing tasty lunches! Here's what the girls are having for Friday:

I've noticed that Picky Eater has been coming home with lots of leftover food from lunch, so I'm cutting back on what I send. Bayberry, on the other hand, almost always comes home with a clean lunch box. I asked her if she was getting enough to eat and she assures me that she is. Today, her lunch looks small, but it's a standard lunch menu.

Bayberry: An Almond Grain burger from Earth Fare with a Homemade Soft Sandwich Roll. Condiments in the little container. Orange segments and some homemade crackers  round out the offerings. Juice to drink.

Picky Eater: She has a sandwich on a homemade roll -- it's fruit spread and peanuts! Also, some carrots, crackers, grapes, and dates. Juice to drink.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lunch for Thursday

I love that Bayberry gets to use a microwave. That really opens up lots of possible lunches for her. Picky Eater can't use a microwave (imagine the chaos and dangers of letting elementary school students as young as four years of age use a microwave unsupervised!). However, I do live right across the street from her school. It's occurred to me to deliver her some hot lunches throughout the year. I think that would be fun, and parents are encouraged to eat lunch with their children when they can.

But for today...

For Bayberry: In her large main compartment, she has Coconut Black Beans & Rice and Steamed Broccoli, which she'll heat up at school. She has a corn muffin, grapes, and a small sweet potato/butternut squash pie (More about that in a minute). She's taking water to drink.

Picky Eater is taking a corn muffin, some grapes, a mini pie, carrots, cucumbers, orange segments, and a small bit of salad dressing for dipping her veggies. She's taking lemonade to drink.

For the mini pies, here's what I did (Shhh...the kids think it's pumpkin pie!)

For the crust:

Combine 1 1/3 cups flour (1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 unbleached all purpose is great!), 1/2 tsp sea salt in your food processor. Add 8 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil, which is wonderful in baked goods) and pulse 12 times. Slowly pulse in 2 to 3 Tbsp ice cold water. Remove to a lightly floured surface and form a ball.

Divide your dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Flatten each ball into a round miniature pie crust.

Place each crust into a mini muffin cup. Set crusts aside so you can prepare the filling.

For the filling:

Steam 2 cups of peeled & diced orange vegetables. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, even carrots are fair game! Drain any water away from the cooked vegetables.

Process until smooth, then stir in 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 Tbsp flour, 2 tsp ground nutmeg or cinnamon, and 1 beaten egg (I used Ener-G egg replacer, though).

Fill mini pies to 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees until puffed up and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure they don't overcook.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Breakfast for Lunch

The first breakfast for lunch was a hit with the kids, so I did it again, a little differently.

The girls are taking identical lunches Wednesday. Bayberry's getting more food, obviously, but the items are identical. We have green grapes, baked apple oatmeal (in muffin cups), boiled eggs, and silver dollar pancakes with maple syrup. They're taking lemonade to drink.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Flower Garden Lunch for Kids

I thought I'd try my hand at something a bit fancier than I have been doing. A flower, with grass, butterflies, and smaller flowers. What do you think? :)

Picky Eater's big flower is an egg salad sandwich. The white center is a small round bit of fondant. The grass is made from strips of unpeeled cucumber. The flowers and butterflies are cucumbers and apples. There are green peas underneath it all. The grapes & orange are meant to resemble a sun. And lastly, there are two homemade coconut macaroons and a few grapes thrown in so they stay still. She's taking milk to drink.

Bayberry's lunch is only a bit fancy. I needed to add more calories to her lunch. She has pasta salad, and lots of extra fruit and veggies. She's taking milk to drink, too.

This post is linked to What's for Lunch Wednesday.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hello, Monday

Tomorrow's lunches for the kids are full of variety and color. I love that. I've even arranged for part of their lunches to be served warm.

Bayberry has noodles with carrots, parsnips, and peas tossed with butter, which she'll heat up at school; 2 Thumbprint Cookies; Strawberries, grapes, and orange segments; 1/2 of a toasted cheese sandwich, and 1/2 of a cinnamon roll. She has water to drink.

Picky Eater has 2 Thumbprint cookies; 1/2 of a toasted cheese sandwich; 1/2 of a cinnamon roll (cut into bites); orange segments, grapes, and strawberries. In the morning, I'll heat her up some soup that she's taking in her Thermos. The soup is noodles in broth with the same veggies as Bayberry's. She's taking orange juice to drink. I'll update with a picture of the soup tomorrow.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

RSS Feed

By popular demand, I've placed an RSS subscription link to the left, right under the Google followers section. Thank you for your support. I'll be back tomorrow with some more lunches to share with you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Friday's Lunch for the Kids

Today was Picky Eater's birthday, so tomorrow, the kids get to take leftover homemade strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting (recipe follows). Here are their lunches for Friday:

Both kids have the same lunch today: Two small round peanut butter & honey sandwiches on Rudi's Organic Honey Sweet Whole Wheat Bread; Pasta Salad made with sweet banana peppers, shredded carrots, shelled edamame, and shredded cheddar & mozzarella cheese; Leftover Strawberry Cake; Kiwi, Strawberry, and an orange. Berry punch to drink.

Fresh Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes one 10" square or round cake

What You Need:
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
for the frosting:
  • 4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 cups confectioner's sugar
How it's Done:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your cake pan.
  • Beat butter and sugar on medium-high until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and milk. Beat in the strawberries.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to wet ingredients. Beat on high two minutes.
  • Pour batter into cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a pick inserted near center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
  • To make frosting, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla extract. Gradually add confectioner's sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Spread on cooled cake.
  • Top with sliced strawberries if desired.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bayberry's Lunch for Thursday

A little less...creative than her sister's lunch, here is Bayberry's Laptop Lunch Box for Thursday:

From top right, clockwise: A mini cupcake (Picky Eater gets one, too, but I'm bringing hers to her lunchroom); Two cereals and a few mini chocolate chips (remember, lunches don't have to be made from "new" things. Lunchboxes are ideal carriers for leftovers!); Grapes, melon, and a fruit leather; sausage dogs in crescent rolls. Juice to drink.

Bento for the Birthday Girl

Tomorrow is Picky Eater's 7th birthday. I kept that in mind when I put together her lunch. Big sister's lunch will be posted later, because it's going to have a birthday cupcake in it and I haven't baked those yet. Here's Picky Eater's Birthday Bento:

Not what I'd have chosen, but it's her birthday! From top right, clockwise: #7 Cheese toast topped with #7 grape cluster and surrounded by tiny sausage rolls (sausage cooked in crescent dough). All on top of a small bed of shredded orange & white cheeses; Next, a tiny orange with some of the peel removed. Makes it neat to look at, but also makes it easier for little fingers to peel. Strips of fruit leather nearby. Next, a rather interesting trail mix of sorts: unsweetened coconut flakes, peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles; and a few candies thrown in. Oh, and some grapes. Again. Finally, the last of our cantaloupe for the week. Chocolate Almond milk to drink. I'm bringing cupcakes in for the whole class, too. This bento is sweeter than I'd like, but it's a once in a while treat. It's her birthday, after all. :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kids' Lunches + 2 Recipe Links

Today, I made some Vanilla Wafer cookies and some stuffed biscuits for the girls' Wednesday lunches. They both came out delicious and have already been taste-tested and pre-approved by the kids.

Vanilla Wafers

Stuffed Biscuits

To draw on the cookies, I used Wilton Food Writer Edible Color Markers. To cut the cucumbers into shapes, I used Stainless Steel Vegetable Cutters.

Clockwise from top right: grapes & melon; cucumber stars; ham & cheese stuffed biscuits; Nilla Wafers & granola bars. Chocolate Almond Milk to drink.

Same lunch, just different proportions and no granola bars. Juice for Picky Eater.

And here are a couple of my cookie drawings. As you can tell, I'm quite an artist. ;)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kids' Lunches for Tuesday, August 17th

Again, nothing fancy. Just lots of brightly colored, fresh foods, with different textures and tastes.

For Bayberry: From top right, clockwise: Cucumber sticks and tomato rounds; Fruit salad made with strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, and kiwi; More grapes, a granola bar, and a sugar cookie cut in half to fit; Bread sticks and Nutella. Juice to drink.

For Picky Eater: Cucumber sticks and Baby Carrots (in a cupcake liner to keep flavors separate) and a Sugar Cookie; Bread sticks & Nutella; Hard-Boiled Egg; Fruit Salad. Juice to drink.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lunch for Everyone (Except Me)

Three lunches to show you today. Nothing fancy in them, except for some colored eggs. To color the eggs, peel them, rinse them off, then add them to a bowl of colored water (10 drops to 2 cups of water for brilliant colors). You can also color them naturally with tea, spinach water, and beet water...but they will impart a bit of flavor as well, so make sure the recipient likes those flavors. I let my eggs sit in the colored water for 10 minutes while I assembled the lunches, then I drained them and patted them dry before placing them in their lunchbox spots.

For the Army Man (aka Husband): Low-Carb Ants on a Log (Peanuts on Peanut Butter on Celery); Turkey Pastrami & Cheese on a Low-Carb Tortilla; Salted Peanuts, 2 Bright Pink Hard-Boiled Eggs; Crystal Light to drink.

For Bayberry: Peanut Butter & Guava Preserves on a Plain Bagel; Green Grapes; 2 Vanilla Cookies; a Bright Pink Hard-Boiled Egg; Cut up Cantaloupe. Nu-Vim Strawberry-Vanilla Smoothie to drink.

For Picky Eater: Peanut Butter & Guava Preserves on a Cinnamon-Raisin Bagel; salted Peanuts; a Vanilla Cookie; Cut up Cantaloupe; Green & Purple Grapes. Berry Punch to drink.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lunchtime Comparison: the School Cafeteria vs Me

Tomorrow's Friday -- the last lunch of the school week. I'll be back on Sunday with a new lunch for Monday. For now, let's compare. Friday's school lunch for my daughters' schools is as follows:

Pepperoni Pizza

Tossed Salad, dressing

Corn on cob

Chilled fruit

Choice of milk
Pretty standard school lunchroom fare, wouldn't you say? It's not even that bad of a menu, and would even be a GREAT menu if the items were freshly prepared, instead of highly processed, frozen, thawed, and reheated, heavily salted and peppered, and drenched in sugar, artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives. I would love to see schools required to list nutritional content and ingredients on their menus for parents to see.
That lunch costs $2.00 per child per day, for one serving. I do better, both financially, and nutritionally, to pack my children's lunches.
We'll pass on school lunches, thanks. I'm not bitter about this, please don't think I am. I'm just vehemently against giving my children junk like that. Junk in = junk out. I also stand for healthier lunches for all children, and am working on ways to campaign for this cause.
For now, I'm starting with my own children and this blog. Changes start small, one lunchbox at a time.
Lunch for Friday:

Red & Green Grapes and Dragon Fruit; Pocky; Fig Newmans; Sweet Peas & Rice Shapes (Onigiri); Cubes of Cheddar Cheese, Edamame & Nutella.

The rice is simply seasoned with tamari and toasted sesame seeds. The peas & edamame were both frozen. This lunch went together so easily!

In case you're curious, here's what the outside of the dragon fruit looks like:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kids' Lunches - Day 5

I went hiking with my sister today in Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park.
 It was lots of fun, but it was a really busy day. When we got back to my house, it was nearly dinner time, and I hadn't given lunches any thought. I threw this together in about 90 minutes, spaced throughout the evening. I need to get some lunch items stashed in the freezer so that I can mix and match items on busy days. Maybe I'll have some time to do that next week. This week, I'm full of visitors, so I have little spare time. Anyway, here are the girls' lunches for Thursday.

Clockwise from top right: Apple slices (rubbed on a lemon wedge to keep them fresh); homemade granola; salad: lettuce, cucumber, sweet pepper, carrot, shredded cheese; sweet potato biscuits baked in a muffin tin & a small container of French dressing. Juice to drink.

Same lunch, just without salad dressing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Breakfast For Lunch: Kids, Day 4

At some point, they'll have ordinary lunches, with sandwiches and that sort of thing. Maybe. For now, I'm having fun straying from the norm. First it was pizza, then nachos. Now: breakfast.

For Picky Eater:

Clockwise from top right: Heart-Shaped hard-Boiled Egg; Amish Friendship Bread; Blueberry Corn Muffin, Orange Wedge, & Babybel cheese; Orange slices. Juice to drink.

For Bayberry:

Same stuff, just more of it. Hard to tell but those eggs are in bunny and star shapes. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lunch for Kids - Day 3

Most days, my girls will take very similar lunches. It's just easier on me that way. The only things that change are their individual needs and preferences. For example, Tuesday's lunch for Bayberry includes lettuce and salsa, which Picky Eater didn't want. Also, there will be times when I notice one of them is lacking in a certain nutrient and will use lunchtime to correct that imbalance. Mostly, though, they're going to be very similar.

Here's Tuesday's lunch for Picky Eater:

From top right, clockwise: Homemade Cream Cheese Fudge Brownie (recipe follows!); Apple slices (rubbed on a lemon wedge to keep them from browning); Homemade Refried Beans, Sour Cream, and shredded cheddar cheese; Homemade Pink & Purple Tortilla Chips, which were a blast to make. Juice to drink.

And Bayberry's Lunch:

Same thing, only with shredded lettuce. :) She also gets a small container of salsa, and a bottle of juice.

Cream Cheese Brownies

What You Need:
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 6 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x11" baking dish.
  2. Stir together the 1/2 cup melted butter, oil, and sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the 2 tsp vanilla extract and sea salt. Stir in the cocoa powder and flour until everything is smooth and combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle the batter with the chocolate chips.
  4. Beat together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1 tsp vanilla, one egg, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp flour. Dot the batter with the cream cheese mixture and use a knife to swirl it together.
  5. Bake 45 minutes or so, until center is set. Let cool completely before slicing. I sliced mine into circles with a biscuit cutter.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lunch for Kids - 2nd day of school

Tomorrow's the second day of school for the girls. They spent Friday getting to know classmates and teachers, finding classrooms and lockers, filling out forms, and learning the ropes. Monday morning, it's nose to the grindstone.

Proper nutrition is important to me, which is why I opt to pack my kids' lunches. I try to get lots of colors, textures, and shapes into my kids' lunches. They will also almost always have a sweet or treat in their lunches. Most of the time, they'll be homemade.

Here's Picky Eater's lunch:

Bottom layer: Salad made with green leaf lettuce, sweet peppers, cucumber "flowers" and carrot shreds. A sliced kiwi on the side.

Top Layer: Pizza Sticks and a Chocolate Chip Cookie. On the side: a small container of creamy dressing and a bottle filled with orange juice.

Bayberry's Lunch:

Clockwise from top right: Sliced kiwi; deviled eggs; chocolate chip cookie (cut in half to fit) and pizza sticks; salad just like her sister's, except Bayberry has tomatoes, too. On the side: a container of French dressing and a bottle of orange juice.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

On Facebook!

By popular demand, I've created a Facebook page for 360 Lunch Boxes. Spread the word, and let's get connected! My Facebook page is here and there's a Like Box on the left side of this page. Thanks for your support! See you tomorrow with more yummy lunches!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lunch for Kids -- First Day of School

This is it...First Day of School Eve! It was so much fun to pack the girls' lunches today. I kept it really simple, focusing on getting a wide variety of colors, textures, and shapes in their boxes. I'm missing blue/purple. Neither of them likes blueberries. Can you imagine? A kid that doesn't like blueberries! So I need to get creative in getting some blue in them. I plan to do things with pureed blueberries eventually, but I'd like some other blue foods for them to munch. Any suggestions?

Picky Eater is my second grader. She's so named for obvious reasons. However, everything in her bento box is tried and true. She has  a side of ranch salad dressing for dipping, a stainless steel bottle of juice, and a cloth napkin.

In her top compartment, Picky Eater as carrots -- some whole baby carrots and some carrot slices; grapes; and flower-shaped kebabs with American cheese and Canadian bacon.

In her bottom compartment, Picky Eater has steamed broccoli, more carrot shapes, sweet bell peppers (both whole and rings), a sweet gherkin, a small finger sandwich (egg salad on pink bread), and a mini cupcake (Apple-Carrot with Honey Butter Frosting).

Bayberry is my sixth grader. She has braces, which presents a variety of difficulties, but we get around them. Her carrots, for example, are very thinly sliced, which allows her to still eat them with braces. Also, her broccoli is steamed so it won't damage her wires. On the side, Bayberry has a bottle of juice and a cloth napkin.

Bayberry has four compartments. Starting upper right and moving clockwise: grapes and tiny carrot flowers; a sweet gherkin and a mini bell pepper filled with ranch salad dressing; a small egg salad sandwich and a mini cupcake; steamed broccoli, sweet bell peppers (some rings and a whole one) and Canadian bacon & American cheese kebabs.

Tomorrow's the Big Day!

Well everybody, first, I'd like to thank you for following my journey before it's really even begun! I appreciate the vote of confidence. You can expect lots of variety around here. Lots of vegetarian options. Lots of creativity. And lots of learning as I go. I've never packed a Bento lunch before. I have plenty of ideas swirling around my head and I can't wait to begin. Later tonight, I'll be sharing with you my kids' first school lunches, and I'll do so each day of the school year. See you soon!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dad's Lunch for Wednesday, August 4th

Tuna Salad on a low-carb tortilla; 2 Babybel Gouda cheese rounds; 2 hard-boiled eggs. Joint Juice and Crystal Light round out this Atkins-Friendly Easy LunchBoxes lunch. In the pink container: sea salt for his eggs.

A liter of Crystal Light, a can of Joint Juice, this lunch container AND an ice pack fit inside the standard lunch cooler from Easy Lunchboxes, by the way.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lunch for Dad

My husband can't come home for lunch for several months, so he's taking a packed lunch from home. The other option is eating at the cafe, where his choices are sandwich on white bread or pizza. He's following a low-carb diet, so those options are no good -- not to mention they're costly and not very tasty.

Bacon, Lettuce, and Cheese with Ranch Dressing on a Low-Carb Tortilla; Mesquite-Smoked Almonds, and Celery with Cream Cheese & green Onions. A can of Joint Juice and a reusable bottle full of Splenda-sweetened iced tea to drink.

Preparing to Pack Lunches: A Pre-Made Plan

This week, school starts. In order to prepare, I'm going to spend a few days making extra supplies. Here's what I'm making:

  • Apple-Carrot Cupcakes with Honey-Butter Frosting
  • Fairy Wands
  • Mini Meatloaf Muffins
  • Mini Taco Muffins
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Biscuits
  • Pizza Shells
  • English Muffins
Making things ahead of time and freezing them in individual portions helps speed up the daily lunch making process. Look for these recipes throughout the week.

Are you planning to pack lunch for your kids this year? When does school start in your area?