Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lunch in A Box!

Octodog toddler lunch お弁当

I've heard of Christmas in July, but how about New Year's resolutions in August? As another school year for Noah fast approaches, I have a resolution, to make him really creative, super nutritious lunches. The lunches that I packed last school year and over this summer while Noah's been in camp were definitely nutritious, but usually lacked as much uniqueness and creativity as I would have liked. Surprisingly, It doesn't have to take a lot of time or money to make these kind of lunches! I'd sometimes cut up tiny finger sandwiches with cookie cutters shaped like stars and hearts or fan out some kiwi, but 95% of the time, I am told the food would go uneaten. I genuinely enjoy making bento inspired lunches and hope that perhaps the fun element to them will coax Noah to eat sooner or later. I'm not going to give up trying!

On several occasions concerned teachers have approached me to say that Noah hasn't been eating his lunch. I always reassure them that it's OK, that he usually doesn't really eat much at home either. A typical day, consists of just a few bites at meal time if we're lucky. Most days he only has a number of bites at about 2 meals. The kid lives off of milk. After a year and a half of struggling to get Noah to eat and worrying about giving him too much milk (hence filling him up and keeping him from eating solids), his pediatrician told us that at this stage, if he just isn't a big eater, it's ok to give him milk with and between meals. It's better for Noah to get the calories and protein from milk than to not get much throughout the day. He's doing just fine.

I gotta say, it can be super frustrating though. We end up wasting a ton of food with every meal we make and after cooking something nice for your child, it's hard when they almost never touch it. Speaking of touching, oddly, Noah will just not eat things that have two ingredients or more touching. For example, he has never eaten a sandwich, not even PB&J! He will for example eat spaghetti sauce if it is thin and covering spaghetti, but if has anything like ground beef or veggies in the sauce, there's no way! This weekend we got him some fabulous rice pudding from Zingerman's, but he wouldn't even try it because there were a few raisins in it. Veggie medleys, fruit cocktails, casseroles, soups full of ingredients, they are really hard to get him to try. So, for now, in his school lunches, he ignores most everything except for these great little Horizon or Trader Joe's Milk drink boxes and yogurt tubes I put in.

This post is getting too long. What I really came here to share with you is THIS awesome website! It's called "LUNCH In A BOX" and it's just wonderful. The picture above is from the web site, a hand crafted toddler lunch by "Biggie", the site's author. Biggie is a fabulously creative woman out in San Francisco who makes these great bento lunches for her husband and young son. The site is chock full of great ideas, time saving techniques, the photos are delicious and she always adds in informative links and even some tutorials. This is definitely one of my favorite places to stop on the Internet.

Thanks a bunch Biggie, you've really inspired me! You guys should check it out too. If I make some neat lunches down the road, I'll be sure to post them! What's your preschooler lunch specialty?


Magdalena said...

Okay, let me preface this by saying, I LOVE Bento. But not for my kids. For me. I am so not about making food a novelty for my children right now, number one because I am super lazy, and nuber two, I am not sure it's healthy. You know me, I wasn't brought up on the right side of food. I just make it and serve it. If they don't eat it, I don't coax or freak out, or bribe, or cut cute shapes, or do any of that stuff.
I will tell you some stuff I try. Sometimes it works, sometimes maybe not so much.
I go to Wild Oats, and for instance, today, A, Mr, Picky eater of all time tried some sesame cheddar stix and they went over fabulously. So did some oatmeal cookies. Sometimes when I think of it I will sneak some flax into their smoothies, or I'll give them those boost-y type drinks. The other night I blended some chickpeas into the spaghetti sauce and DJ loved it, J, not so much; he was ready to hurl on me. There was no sneaking that by him! I pick the spaghetty sauce that has veggies but then if its chunky I will put it in the blender. Hummus! They like that. I bread tofu with cracker crumbs and bake it and it is like a better fish stick I guess?
You know, with them, I am all for the whole, I'll bend but I won't break kind of philosophy. I'm willing to give them healthy options but you won't catch me begging. I think I did for awhile there with A and it wasn't worth it, you know, I would do airplane and play games and be near tears just to get him to take a freaking bite. Now I'm like, okay, we're done, huh? I think he was figuring out it was a source of control.
2 random thoughts- That hotdogopus kinda freaks me out, and, will you make me a bento when I visit?!

Magdalena said...

I meant to include these links, but the funny thing is, I am not sure if maybe I got them here. hahahaha!

You could be on that second one all day!!!! Wheeeeeeee!!!!

Magdalena said...

Okay, I suck. Just go to The whole site rocks and it has a bunch of neat ideas for Bento. Last comment, promise.

Lauren said...

Girl, you are amazing! Of course I will make you a bento when you come to visit. A hella bento for you Mags. Thanks for the comment, I mean COMMENTS! I'm totally joking. I love your philosophy about being willing top bend but not break. So well put. I only offer Noah one meal choice and if he doesn't eat, I say "Ok" and that's that. I know it can be a power struggle, it is one in fact at times, but i also think he has some weird thing slightly going on with texture? I love love your ideas about "smooth" foods. I forgot how much Noah liked hummus and what you said about throwing veggie spaghetti sauce in the blended was great! I have tried sneaking in soy where I can and so far so good. I tried the smoothies and that was great,I'll need to pull out my flax seed, great idea! Oh yeah and the Octodog, I love the look but maybe he would be a bit of chocking hazard at least for Noah. I need to check out VeganLunchBox! I have seen cooking cute and really dig it, great links Mags!Hey, remember when you were "madge"? :)
Any thanks, you really are always so helpful and HILARIOUS! I'm going to take your advice and try these things. Thank you!!! xoxoxox

Judy said...

First of all, I am totally skanking you and all your links and using you in the next couple of weeks at my "work blog"! This is GREAT stuff! Seriously, is it okay if I link to you when I write it up? It will be a couple of weeks - I'm way ahead of myself and want to hit this closer to the start of school.

I think Noah is VERY typical. Travis has a texture issue. We have to pull all kinds of tricks to get him to eat anything that isn't fried or battered or in chip form. Kids eat when they're hungry and I think you're doing a fantastic job by offering Noah healthy choices along the way.

Lauren said...

Hey, thanks Judy. Good insight! And sure, you can link to us, what blog will you be writing for? How awesome is that! Thanks for the props! :)

Laura said...

I must be totally out of the loop because I haven't the faintest idea what Bento is. I guess I'd better do my research.
I am afraid that I have to admit something...I'm one of those moms who tries, but fails, to provide nutritious, wholesome, well-balanced meals to her kids. Well, okay, I do well with Cara but Caitlin, that's a whole different story. She will only eat spaghetti, chicken, meat, most fruits and pepperoni pizza. I worry about her nutrition constantly. I'm praying that this picky-eating is just a stage. At dinner time, she gets a helping of whatever we are having for dinner and we try to make her try everything on her plate, but I have to admit that I give in to her a lot because I want her to eat. I am going to check out the websites that are listed for some creative ideas. In the meantime, we will replenish or stock of Flintstone vitamins!

Jeremy said...

I just came across this website and thought of you!

(brush up on your japanese!)