Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wednesday's Lunch

Tomorrow should be quite the day for my students. I teach at a parochial school, so we start every Wednesday morning with mass. This Thursday is the big Christmas concert/play that involves the entire school (K-8) so tomorrow morning after mass, we have rehearsal, which takes about 2 hours, then tomorrow afternoon we have a dress rehearsal. All in all, doesn't allow a whole lot of teaching time tomorrow... Oh well, gotta have days like that every now and then, right?!?

Here's tomorrow's lunch to get me through the craziness, packed in my favorite purple Goodbyn:
L to R: homemade Chex Mix; Dare maple cream cookie; 2 star shaped sandwiches, one has PB&J, the other has sharp cheddar and turkey; FF Pringles; 1 Hershey's Nugget; skim milk; apple juice; strawberry Fruitabu; sugar-free pudding with pre-biotic fiber.

Looks like a lot of food, but I spend 7am-6pm at school every day due to the fact that I also run the before and after school care program, so I eat my biggest meal at school to get me through the long days. When I get home at night, I am tuckered out, so I usually eat a simple supper, pack a good lunch for the next day, and veg out on the couch.


I read my students Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas today. I love Dr. Suess read alouds, and Mr. Grinch is one of my fav's. Thought I'd end this post with my favorite quote from the book:

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more."

Monday, December 13, 2010

25th Bento!

So, as I save the pictures of my lunches on my computer, I give them very creative names. You know, like Bento #16 and so on. Well today's picture is titled Bento #25. Hard to believe I have been doing this long enough to have made 25 lunches. I feel like I have come a long way, especially since that first dreadful 'bento' way back in the day :)

Enough reminiscing... here's tomorrow's lunch:
Left to right: homemade Chex Mix, garlic and olive oil vermicelli with turkey meatballs, white cheddar crackers, skim milk to drink, 2 Hershey's Nuggets, sugar free pudding with pro-biotic fiber (good for my Crohn's... yogurt would be better, but I strongly dislike yogurt), garlic bread, and you can't really see it but there's a pomegranate fruit leather tucked in there too :)

And, just for a treat, here's tomorrow's after school snack:

orchard cherry fruit leather, Chex mix, ff Pringles (I know the fact that they are fat free doesn't make them healthy, I just feel a little better about it), mini juice box, white cheddar crackers, Dare maple cream cookie. I am obsessed with maple.

We had a 2 hour delay today due to the massive blizzard that hit the area over the weekend, meaning that school started at 10:10, and my kids go to lunch at 10:50... not much time for a productive morning but my cereal lunch fit in perfectly with sleeping in!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Goodbyn Goodness

I wasn't too sure how I felt about my new Goodbyns. They are a lot bigger than I had expected and was kind of thinking... how can I pack a lunch in this effectively. Well for today's lunch, I must say I am a big fan! Here's what I packed for tomorrow's lunch:

Starting top left: White Cheddar crackers, cereal (a mix of rice/corn chex and cheerios), homemade Chex Mix (which explains my choice of cereal).
Middle: 2 Hershey's Nuggets, skim milk for the cereal
Right: Dare Maple Cream cookie, strawberry fruit roll, juice box. The little black container is a mix of sugar and splenda for my cereal.


Thursday, December 9, 2010


I got a new bento box! It's a Goodbyn, and through an amazing online deal, it got delivered to my door for a grand total of $2.95! Ok, so maybe I ordered more than one... I ended up getting purple, orange and dark blue, because, lets face it, some nights I just don't get to the dishes. And with a deal like that who could pass it up?

Here's tomorrow's lunch:
Left Top: Caramel Corn
Left Middle: Pretzel sticks, raisins, low fat string cheese
Left bottom: Orchard Cherry fruit leather, 2 shortbread cookies
Middle Top: 5 peanut M&M's :)
Middle bottom: Skim Milk
Right: Left over cheese bread

Not the healthiest of lunches, but I am finally starting to feel better, so I figured I'd include some yummies I have been missing out on.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Breakfast Bento

I have to have some testing done tomorrow, so no work for me. I need a driver to take me home from the hospital, so my mom agreed to accompany me. I bribed her with a breakfast bento. She gets a kick out of the lunches I pack (and requests a photo each night) so she loves it when I make bentos for her. Here is tomorrow's breakfast bento:

It's packed in a disposable Rubbermaid Take-Along container just in case. We have cinna-sushi, 2 mini banana-walnut-dark chocolate chip muffins (homemade, but out of the freezer), raisins, apple straws and a fruit and nut granola bar for some protein. I also packed her a little container of natural applesauce but that's not pictured.

I know its not as much as I would pack for a lunch, but I am going to do a cost calculation anyways. My school does not offer breakfast, but the public school district where I live does. An adult breakfast costs $2.00 and tomorrow's menu is: Cereal, graham cracker, juice, milk. (Seriously... $2.00 for that... yikes.) My breakfast is healthier and much more filling (in my opinion.)

Cinna-sushi: $0.17 (same as what I made yesterday)
2 Muffins: $0.13 (they are 'homemade'... aka from a 'just add water' mix)
7 apple straws: $0.15
Raisins: $0.12
Granola Bar: $0.42
Applesauce: $0.20
8oz skim milk to drink: $0.18

That's $1.37 for a fun little breakfast bribe :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eat Along Challenge - Brunch(ish) for Lunch

Mrs Q. over at Fed Up with Lunch started an Eat Along Challenge, asking fellow lunch makers to share with fellow bloggers what they are making for lunch, as well as cost calculations. I did this in one of my previous posts and I am excited to see what tomorrow's lunch shakes out to be. Here is my brunch(ish) for lunch tomorrow:

In the large section of my EasyLunchbox, I have a few apple straws, some cinnamon bread sushi, a fruit leather to act as a barrier, and mini frozen pancakes that will thaw by lunch tomorrow. In the smaller sections I have veggie 'chicken' nuggets and shortbread cookies.

I made the cinnamon bread to look like mini cinnamon rolls... I tasted one tonight and they're not exactly cinnamon roll good, but they'll do. In looking at my lunch for tomorrow it occurs to me that I haven't eaten any meat in a few days. My stomach is still recovering so I am sticking with my ulcer-approved diet of lots of carbs.

Here's my cost calculations:
-7 apple straws (yes, I counted): $0.15
-2 pieces of white-wheat bread: $0.10
-Country Crock/Cinnamon Sugar combo for bread: $0.07
-Fruit Leather: $0.36
-6 pancakes: $0.28
-5 veggie 'chicken' nuggets: $0.66
-3 shortbread cookies: $0.25
-8oz skim milk to drink: $0.18

and the grand total is... $2.05!

This lunch came in a little higher than the last one I posted, but it is still well under the $3.00 mark, which is the cost for an adult hot lunch at my school as well.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Well, they're not pretty...

...but they're lunch.

I have stomach issues. I have Crohn's Disease, and have been having terrible stomach pain for the past 3+ weeks. I ended up having to miss a day of work last week to go in to the doctor and they think I have an ulcer. I go back in on Thursday to have an endoscopy done just to confirm, so for now I am on an ulcer-friendly diet. Here's what I've been eating...

Today's lunch:
a turkey hot dog with low sodium ketchup, fruit leather, garlic cheese bread, shortbread cookies and mozzarella/Colby-jack cheese cubes.

This one went ok... didn't feel great afterword, but lately I don't ever feel good after eating, so I will consider it a success!

And here's what I packed for tomorrow:
Linguine noodles with mild white sauce, fruit leather, the last of my garlic cheese bread, club crackers with cheese spread and shortbread cookies.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...


I don't know about you, but I LOVE Christmas. Teaching young kids at Christmas time is possibly the greatest joy of my job... their pure simple joy at this time of the year is the most beautiful thing ever.

In my love of Christmas, I started decorating this weekend! I happen to have the ugliest Christmas tree in the world, so in honor of my ugly Christmas tree, we have tomorrow's lunch:
I finally got my EasyLunchboxes so I used them to pack both my lunch and snack for tomorrow. In the large compartment I have a large turkey and cheese Christmas tree and 3 small pepperoni and cheese Christmas trees, all on pita bread. There are cheese cubes on a Christmas Tree pick, star shaped fruit leather cutouts, and two mini banana-walnut-chocolate chip muffins. In the medium compartment, we have garlic-Parmesan pretzel thins and raisins and in the small compartment is my favorite natural applesauce.

And here's tomorrow's snack:
2 mini banana-walnut-chocolate chip muffins, raisins, veggie booty, natural applesauce, and pepperoni and cheese kabobs.

Due to the fact that my brothers are both doctors and work crazy schedules, my family will be celebrating Christmas this weekend! It's early but it was the only chance we'd have to all be together, so it's what we are doing. Looking forward to some family time!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turkey Time!

Tomorrow is our last day of school before Thanksgiving (well, considering it's the only day before Thanksgiving, I guess that's obvious.) Anyway... here is my last lunch until next week:

Peanuts, raisins, white and milk chocolate chips, 9 little mini flower shaped sharp cheddar cheese sandwiches, pretzel sticks, mini cookies and natural applesauce. Simple, delightful and delicious. Those little flowers took a lot longer to make than they look!

The title of this post is turkey time... despite the fact that I rarely pack meat in my lunch. I'm not anti-meat per se... I just don't like it all that much. I will indulge in turkey, potatoes, gravy and all the fixings on Turkey Day :) I come from a very large family... for Thanksgiving we rent a hall and usually have about 80 people there... give or take a few!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lunch, a snack, and a few thoughts...

Here we have a basic, yet yummy lunch for tomorrow:

In the large compartment: raisins, 3 homemade sugar cookies, hidden down low is 2 skewers with low fat mozzarella and colby-jack cheese, pretzel sticks, and a cherry fruit leather with a mango fruit leather butterfly inside. In the medium compartment: bread and butter butterfly bites (say that 3 times fast!) In the small compartment: natural applesauce.

And my after school snack, which usually ends up being most of my supper:
A mango fruit leather with a cherry fruit leather butterfly inside, raisins, sugar cookies, mozzarella and colby-jack cheese, natural applesauce and pretzel sticks. Basically my lunch repeated, minus the bread.


A thought on school lunch prices:
When I first started teaching, I chose to eat hot lunch fairly often. It was easy and convenient, and, I thought, fairly reasonable when it comes to cost. As I have been getting more and more involved in the bento-making world, I am realizing how wrong I was, at least in the cost department.

School lunch costs $3.00 for adults. This includes your entree, a side such as a potato or rice, a fruit, a hot vegetable, raw veggies with dip, milk and either bread or dessert (I know, compared to most lunch programs, we have it made.) However, due to my stomach condition and the fact that I am an admittedly picky eater, I would usually only take the entree, side, sometimes the fruit (if it was applesauce or dried cherries) or the hot veggie (if it was corn or beans) and usually the bread or dessert. This meant that sometimes all I was eating was meat, potatoes and bread. No wonder I have a hard time losing weight! if you are a less constricted eater, your $3.00 really does get you quite a lot. For me, though, I can pack my own lunch for much less, and include healthy options that are both good for my stomach and make me feel great. Let's see what tomorrow's lunch will cost me:

2 slices of bread = $0.10
Country Crock for bread = $0.05
Applesauce = $0.20
Fruit Leather = $0.36
Cheese = $0.30
Cookies = $0.30 (a guess based on ingredients)
Pretzels = $0.10
Raisins = $0.12
8oz fruit juice = $0.28

I figured these prices based on serving size and my grocery receipts.

Aaand, tomorrow's grand total for lunch = $1.81

I find it interesting that the most expensive part was the only processed/packaged food.

So... I am no mathematician, but lets do a little figuring here:
I eat lunch at school every day.
There are 180 school days each school year.
Eating hot lunch would cost me $3.00 x 180 days = $540 per year to eat lunch.
If I pack lunches and they cost $1.81 per day (I know some days will be more, but some will be much less, so we will go with this figure as an average)
Packing lunches at $1.81 x 180 days = $325.80

Meaning that I will save $214.20 per year.

In my world, that's an awful lot of money.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Finally Something to Blog About!

I have eaten lunch in the past week and a half... I swear, I have. My lunches have been less than stellar, so I didn't feel they were blog-worthy. I've been battling a cold/flu bug for at least a week now, and to top it off, it was conferences week last week. Not feeling great + working 14 hour days 3 days last week = not so spectacular lunches. Oh well, I am back with a delicious looking, if not hodge-podged lunch for tomorrow:

In the main compartment: 2 heart shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cat shaped fruit leather, because I do love my kitties (one of whom is sleeping on my feet as I type), low fat mozzarella cheese pieces, 2 sections of raisins, and honey roasted peanuts. You can also see I tucked in the fruit leather scraps on the side... I had a big lunch today and didn't feel like eating them tonight, so I saved 'em for tomorrow. In the medium sized compartment, I have a few veggie straws for their crunch factor and 2 bite sized sugar cookies I baked today. I used my small bento cutters to make little tiny cookies, which turned out adorable... but I didn't have the patience for fancy decorations... so I made up a batch of my Grandma's almond frosting recipe, added a few fall sprinkles and called it good. They taste delicious. In the small compartment I have natural applesauce with star shaped sprinkles. The sprinkles usually dissolve into gooey nothingness by the time I eat lunch, but they add some fun color for the picture taking if nothing else :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tomorrow's Lunch

I need to get more creative with these titles... not exactly my strong suit!

Here is lunch for tomorrow...
We have heart shaped sandwiches with natural peanut butter (I use the Skippy no-stir kind... love it!) and honey; sliced low fat mozzarella cheese circles; raisins; 2 cheese and cracker sandwiches; fruit leather stars and moons; lots and lots of natural applesauce (which tastes best icy cold in my opinion); white mix with star and moon sprinkles.

Kind of a haphazard bento with the mix of hearts and stars/moons, but I only have one little turkey cutter for a Thanksgiving theme, and it's waaaay too early to start Christmas bentos (right?!?)

I found some adorable mini Christmas cutters at Michael's last weekend, as well as some disposable picks/muffin wrappers at Dollar Tree! I can't wait to bust out the Christmas bentos the moment Thanksgiving is over!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

3 more bentos!

I don't know why the photo quality is so bad on 2 of these... I am using the same camera as always!

Here is my lunch from last Wednesday:
PB&J faux sushi rolls, cereal bar, fruit leather pieces, peanuts, homemade croutons, cheese leaves (decorated with food safe markers), crackers, apple straws, brownie bites (half of a 100 calorie pack... just enough chocolate to cure my craving, but makes the 100 cal packs last longer!)

I learned a lesson with this bento. It all started with the fact that I was running late that morning, and left my lunch in my bag rather than putting it in the refridgerator in the teachers lounge like I always do. This resulted in nasty, hard little cheese leaves... the moisture left the cheese and created soggy crackers, apple straws and croutons and a sticky little lump of peanuts. I ended up still hungry after lunch because I ended up throwing away most of the food in that compartment. Oh well, lessons learned!!

This was last Thursday's lunch:
Dino shaped PB&H sandwiches, cereal bar, fruit leather, homemade croutons, mozzarella cheese, veggie straws, pecans and the rest of the brownie bites from the day before.

A few of my co-workers have been noticing my new take on lunch packing, and one teacher commented that I need some kids to pack lunch for... won't that be fun when that day comes!

Friday = no bento, I needed to eat up some leftovers before they went bad. So I had a basic, boring lunch.

Here is lunch for tomorrow:

1/2 of a veggie burger left over from lunch with my mom today, peanuts, raisins, fruit leather, cheese/cracker sandwiches, string cheese, applesauce with dino sprinkles and white mix. What is white mix you ask? My mom makes it, it's really simple and so delicious. You just take store bought plain popcorn, puff corn and Fritos. Mix them together, then drizzle with 2 bags of melted white chocolate chips mixed with a little veggie oil. You spread it out on cookie sheets and refrigerate it so it can set up, then store in an air tight container. It makes a HUGE batch, so make sure you have someone to share it with!

Monday, November 1, 2010

2 more bentos!

It never fails that I get sick over a break from school... I think it's the fact that I let myself slow down for a few days, and boom, all those uckie bugs that have been hibernating come out to get me... so I am a day behind at posting bentos.

The lunch I ate today:
PB&H on a bagel thin with a star cut out of the middle, star and moon sharp cheddar cheese, veggie straws, fruit leather ribbons, crackers, peanuts, mini fudge stripe cookies (1/2 of a 100 calorie pack... fits perfectly in a mini muffin wrapper... looks cute too!) and vanilla non-fat yogurt with mini chocolate chips.

All in all a simple, filling lunch. I learned my lesson though... veggie straws in the fridge overnight in the same compartment as a sandwich and cheese = very soggy veggie straws... I ate a few, but just couldn't stomach them all. Lesson learned!

And here's my lunch for tomorrow:
Cheddar and salami on whole wheat bread, mini fudge stripe cookies, mozzarella chunks, peanuts, veggie straws, apple straws, yogurt with butterscotch chips, fruit leather hearts to top it all off!

I looked over the school hot lunch menu for November, and for the second month in a row, there is no Taco Tuesday! There goes my indulgence I guess!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First Bentos for Others

We have a long weekend off of school, so I don't need any more lunches this week. I decided to use my new skills to surprise my parents at work with cute lunches just in time for Halloween. It was harder in some ways to make lunch for them because I didn't know exactly what they would like or want, but it was fun knowing they will be surprised when I show up at their workplace with a fun festive lunch.

For my mom (sorry about the ugly background) PB&J (believe it or not, that's her favorite sandwich) jack-o-lantern sammie, cheese ghost, peanuts in the little cup with an icing pumpkin, veggie straws, cheese pumpkins and crackers, applesauce, fruit leather on picks, brownie bites and an icing "Boo"

And for my dad (he has never seen photos of any of my lunches, so I think he will really be surprised) salami and cheese on a bagel thin with a pumpkin cut out of the middle, cheddar and pepperoni picks, cheese ghost, veggie straws, Halloween marshmallows (which I don't think he will eat but I needed to fill the space and they were festive) wheat crackers and cherry fruit leather pumpkins. I also added 4 flavored tootsie rolls... his favorite treat!

Catching up on bentos

I was having issues uploading pictures last week, so here I go, trying again...

This was from last week sometime... PB&H on whole wheat white bread, cereal bar, wheat crackers, cheddar and pepperoni picks, natural applesauce, Halloween cookie broken up to fit, Boo marshmallows

I made this one the night before going to the Packers vs. Vikings, so it's definitely not one of my best. Some kind of sandwich (I think PB&J), Halloween cookie, applesauce, peanuts and bunny crackers, cereal bar.

And probably my favorite one to date... Salami and cheddar sandwich with salami and cheddar pumpkins, cheddar cubes, peanuts, wheat crackers, cheese stick, cereal bar and fruit leather pumpkins.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Simple Lunch and Snack

Here is my lunch for Tuesday:
Cheese spread and wheat crackers; mini muffin; cookie pieces broken up to fit; a fruit leather in the wrapper to act as a barrier; mozzarella cheese whips; natural applesauce (my latest, greatest obsession); natural peanut butter and honey faux sushi rolls on whole wheat white bread; pecans.

And of course, I packed a snack too.

Mom's homemade puppy chow; puffy popcorn; homemade croutons; Halloween marshmallows. Sorry about the terrible photo quality... I had to use my phone!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

2 lunches and a snack

Here is my lunch from last Wednesday. I ran out of time to post last week, Thursday was a field trip, so I had a boring lunch and Friday I took a personal day to spend with my family.

I had: PB&J faux sushi rolls, with a pumpkin icing decoration; bunny crackers with homemade croutons; pumpkin seeds; peanuts; puff corn; fruit leather leaves for decoration.

Tomorrow's lunch:
Cheese and salami sandwich with a 'boo' icing decoration and fruit leather leaves; glazed pecans; cheese and pepperoni on pumpkin and owl picks; natural applesauce (yum!); mini muffin; cereal bar; Halloween shaped mini marshmallows.

I also usually pack a snack for work. I teach, but I also run the before and after school care program, meaning I work from 6:45am-6pm. My lunch time begins at 10:50am, so by about 3:30, I am pretty hungry. Packing a healthy, satisfying snack holds me over long enough to have the patience to cook dinner... otherwise the drive through is just too tempting! Here is tomorrow's snack 'bento'

Puffy popcorn holding everything in place; my mom's homemade puppy chow leftover from the weekend; mini muffin; string cheese whips; homemade croutons.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Bento Box

I found a new faux bento box at Woodman's today (a discount grocery store in my area.) I'm not in love with the round shape and its pretty shallow... but it will do until I get my set of Easy Lunchboxes, and it's definitely an improvement over the Gladware I have been using! Here's my lunch for tomorrow.

Starting from top left we have mozzarella and salami on pumpkin and owl pics; crackers and homemade croutons; cafe delights granola bar; cookie pieces; pumpkin seeds; cheddar cheese spread to go with the bread sticks below; Annie's bunny crackers and skewers with mozzarella and salami wraps. Plus 4 flavored tootsie rolls for fun. The leaves and pumpkins are made of cherry fruit leather.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

School Bento #1

I am very excited to bring my first bento lunch to school tomorrow!

Clockwise from top left corner: owl and pumpkin picks with mozzarella and cheddar cheese, crackers behind them; mini bagel with honey; mini chocolate chip cookie; stir fried chicken on a skewer; muffin cup with Annie's bunnies, peanuts and fruit leather leaves. After I took the picture picture, I added some pumpkin and leaf shaped croutons I made from this recipe from Another Lunch. So delicious!

I also ordered myself a set of Easy Lunchboxes last night. They are on back order right now, but I am very excited about easier lunch packing :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

First Ever Bento

I have a new obsession... reading food blogs, especially those of moms who make adorable bento lunches for their kids. Well, I'm not a mom, but I am a teacher who packs her own lunch 95% of the time. I do have the option to purchase school lunch for $3.00/day. Compared to some school lunches I have seen, we have it pretty good. I'm talking actual people doing actual cooking. Most days hot lunch features homemade bread, fruit, a hot vegetable and raw veggies with dip. Of course the good comes with the bad: most of the fruit is canned in syrup, the menu features processed chicken nuggets or patties at least once a week (sometimes both in the same week!) and the kids are allowed to eat what they like, meaning most of the kids choose to skip the fruit and veggies, in favor of second helpings of nuggets or french fries.

Sometimes, I do indulge in a hot lunch. Our cafeteria baker makes cinnamon rolls that are to die for, so I am a regular customer on the monthly "Taco Tuesdays" that feature cinnamon rolls as the dessert. However, being a teacher, I am definitely on a limited income, and I have discovered that I can make my own lunches that feature foods I enjoy for much less than $3.00 a day. I would never degrade our hot lunch program, this is just a new adventure I am taking on for myself.

Annnnd, with all that being said here we have it, my first ever bento lunch:
Natural peanut butter and grape jam pumpkin shaped sandwich on whole wheat white bread, with a mini leaf shaped sammie from the left overs; leaf and acorn sharp cheddar cheese pieces with wheat crackers underneath; in the muffin wrapper is a mix of Annie's organic sour cream and onion bunnies and peanuts; an organic granola bar; in the blue container is garlic croutons; with a mini chocolate chip cookie tucked in for good measure.

Hopefully more bentos to come soon!