If anyone told me I'd be enjoying making school lunch boxes a few weeks ago, I would have just pulled a face and said: "No.
I love cooking for my family. I enjoy doing stuff for my kids. And, of course, I'm all about finding ways to express our creativity.
But, lunch boxes aren't exactly the first things that come to mind when I think of ways to be more creative.
However, just over a week after my first foray into bento lunch boxes, I must admit: I am hooked.
Admittedly, it still seems crazy that it takes a minimum of 30 minutes to create a couple of simple bento lunch boxes. Normally, it takes hubby or myself about 10-15 minutes to throw them together, just before the kids rush off to school. And believe me, that just-throw-the-food-in-the-lunch-boxes-why-doncha approach will probably still be our main approach. But, now that I'm getting the hang of this bento lunchbox-making thing, I'm enjoying the process a lot more. Now, I just need to figure out how to make them a lot quicker!
Anyway, I'm blogging Bento Lunch Box Story #2 now because I'm going to admit another thing: I'm getting behind on my bento lunch box blogging.
Yes, you read that right. Even though I was planning on doing just 1-2 bento lunch boxes a week, which I thought would be good regular blogging fodder for me, I ended up making THREE bento lunch boxes this week. 3! I can't believe it myself.
But, seeing the excitement in my children's eyes when they know they're getting a bento is quite addictive, I must say. In fact, last night, while I was making Bento Lunch Box No.4, my daughter couldn't stop saying things like: "You are so super awesome doing this mum!"
Yes, I've fallen for their sweet sweet trap.
So, I thought I better get on with blogging these lunch boxes, or else I might fall in to a different kind of trap: BLOGGING OVERWHELM.
When I get overwhelmed with the amount of things I want to blog about, I end up freezing and not blogging. That's one of the reasons I end up extremely silent on this blog sometimes. And, that's also one of the reasons you're hearing more from me lately. I figured, the best way to stop myself from getting "blogging overwhelm" is just to get on with it.
So here I am. Getting on with it.
I decided to use the two new identical lunch boxes we bought recently from Ikea.
And, for this lunch box set, I just started off with the idea of using the star cookie cutter I had in my kitchen stash for some time now. Made the star smiley fritz sandwich you see there. Then, I decided to use the bear food cutter I had in my new bento set. Basically used it to etch a bear on the apples. I used one red and one green apple because the kids prefer two different types of apples (the boy likes the green one, and the girl likes the red one). To create a contrast, I added a "bed" of kiwi fruit slices for the red apple bear. And, I added watermelon slices for the green apple. That's when I had the idea about a bear at night.
So, I tried to create a night scene. Made a cracker sandwich using SkyFlakes crackers (cut-offs smiley fritz filling), painting one side with blue food dye. Since the lunch box is still quite deep, I find that I have to "pad" things to make it work. So, underneath, I put a bag of Smith's Thins crisps (blue packet) + a LCM choclatey bar (also with a blue packet). To reiterate the bear theme, I put some tiny teddies in a cupcake cup (with tiny teddies' friends, spotted dogs).
They ate pretty much everything. Except the blue cracker sandwich. They weren't too keen on the food colouring. My son tried it but when he realised his mouth was turning blue, he stopped. So, I'm not sure about using food colouring in the future. I'm not usually a big fan of them anyway. Having said that, I did see a box of natural food colours in the supermarket the other day. So, I might give that a go.
In any case, it took me an hour to finish these two lunch boxes. (And then some, as I ended up making a lunch box for the hubby too. Not bento style though. :))
Using the writing prompt, "At night, the bear...", these are the stories that the kids came up with...
The 9-year-old boy's story -
The 6-yr-old girl's story -
Since this is not a grammar lesson, I haven't really been correcting the kids' spelling, punctuation, etc. I just want them to write and enjoy exploring their creative ideas. One day, I would like to look back and help them out with the technical side of writing.
But, yes, I sure would like for them to be more confident with these prompts.
Anyway, today is the last day of school for Term 3 here in Adelaide, so I'm not sure if I'll be making a lot of bentos during two-week school holidays. My daughter has sort of hinted she'd still like me to make them one when they go to vacation care (they're booked a couple of times per week). But, I'll have to wait and see.
At least this might be give me a chance to catch-up on blogging Bento Lunch Box Story #3 and #4. And, I must say: I'm pretty happy with how the next two turned out, so I'm looking forward to sharing.
I always appreciate comments, regardless of where they're shared. So, will try to post some from different places. Like this one on Twitter from my friend Ibyang:
@shaicoggins well done with the bento lunches. So cute! Oh I can so relate with "blogging overwhelm" ????
— IBYANG ? (@ibyang) September 27, 2013
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.