Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The lunch box dilemmas

I have been struggling on a proper lunch box for my kids the last couple years. My older son used to prefer school lunches, but not since we've moved here where there is less choices and longer lines to get to the food. So first I got both my son's typical lunch boxes. Got the older one something like this:

And the younger one's, exactly this:

The problem with both of them is/was their size. yes, You can pack an ice pack in them, but it gets everything wet and it takes up space and then the awkward containers or ziplocs. Our older son hated having sandwiches all the time and it was difficult in even the bigger lunch box to pack pasta or such things. Turned out, half the time he just took a nutrition bar.

So, I set out to find something different. I decided to buy this for the older boy and my husband (I'll detail my younger son's lunch box some other day). http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-Classic-Bento-Vacuum-Lunch/dp/B0016S11VC

First, my teenager thought it was cool. And if it was cool, it would get used. Second, it's a great little system. It's a thermos that holds containers, so it could keep food hot or cold. For now, we've been cooling them with ice cubes and water for a few minutes in the morning and then putting in the cold food. He then heats up the food in the microwave at school. In winter, I can pack soup and other hot foods and he won't even need to reheat it! That is sweet! And does it keep it cold without an ice pack? Yep! It's a thermos!

So, I started to think of creative ways to pack lunches as now I had new constraints - round containers. And then I had an epiphany! Actually, I should doubly thank Williams Sonoma. First, they kept tempting me with their pie maker: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/breville-pie-maker-bpi640xl/ But why spend that money? Couldn't I just do similar things in the oven? I have various pans (which I use), but I then found this at Williams Sonoma and it is great! And a way cheaper alternative than the electric pie maker: Brookster pan. I spent $20 instead of $90. Well, $40, because I bought two pans so I can do a double batch at once, but that's not necessary.

So, this is a mini pepperoni pizza I made on Sunday for lunches:

And this is the brownie (kind of a brookster, but not quite) I made for desserts on Saturday using the same pan:

And this is how it packs in the lunch box:

I have trail mix in the left container (this is a spill proof/vented container good for soups too). I have the brownie in the middle container, and I have two mini pizzas stacked on top of each other in the right most container. A full meal and it fits so perfectly!

This is the container all put together:

And all closed up put together without the top lid on:

And now in the insulated bag there are slots for utensils, rolled up napkin and even space on top for an additional treat or sandwich if you wan to add it. It doesn't hold a water bottle, but neither my husband or older son need that. My husband has a glass he keeps at work and my son has a water bottle he keeps in his back pack. However, Zojirushi do make other containers/systems where you can add a water bottle.

Packing lunch this morning took all of 2 minutes I think as I didn't even need to cool or heat the thermos. All was premade during the weekend and is just waiting to be filled during the week. And the best of all, my son is eating a full lunch.

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