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!