I’ve noticed that many of the bento websites are either a)spectacular creations that one would not be able to do every day or b)totally different from what a Japanese mom would actually put in a bento. Too much fruit, etc.
So, here are (as I understand it) the rules for making preschool bento.
1. Must be something your child can eat without help.
2. Nothing watery that will spill, or worse, spoil.
3. Pack it firmly so things don’t roll around. God invented the cherry tomato with this in mind. 4. Make it colorful.
5. No dessert.
Also bear in mind that you will be preparing this at dawn with, at best, a whiny preschooler and at worst whiny preschoolers and crying babies and petulant older children and grumpy husbands and possibly judgemental grandparents looking over your shoulder.
Personally, I usually try to make one item in the morning, then use either leftovers or something frozen, and fill in extra space with brocolli, cherry tomatoes, cheese, grapes, whatever I have.
That leads to today’s lunch. Me Too asked for a peanut butter sammy and meatballs. The sandwich is a bit of a pain because Japanese bread is very thick. Makes a great sandwich if you’re the Jolly Green Giant, or have a jaw that unhinges like a snake. For a kid, I have to filet the bread. Then cut it up so it will fit in the bento box. Usually it is helpful to approach this like a geometry problem.
I made the sauteed spinach mixture this morning (enough for breakfast and dinner, too, cause I’m mean like that.) The meatballs are courtesy of our local grocery store and will make a surprise appearance in the kids spaghetti tonight.
I was thinking about putting in grapes instead of the little piece of cheese, but went with the cheese since we had grapes with breakfast.
Then I was out of room, so, voila!
Put the chopsticks in their special nook, wrap it in a handkerchief (“just like the teacher,”) and then it goes in the backpack where I’m sure it faces all the various laws of physics, gravity, centrifugal force, the usual.