As far as our family is concerned, the water crisis is over. We’ve been washing clothes and brushing teeth with tap water for weeks, but I do hesitate to drink a tall glass of our city’s H2O. If this isn’t considered “normal,” then I’ll edit my comment to say that it’s our “new normal.”
Another “new normal” is making lunches for our two children every day. At the beginning of the school year, I made a big fuss about our oldest daughter, who refused to eat cafeteria food. I accused her of being a food snob, and then I fussed at her for being so finicky about frozen chicken nuggets. She one-upped me by declaring herself vegetarian.
There’s a salad bar at school!
But since the water crisis (which we consider to be over), I’ve changed my school policy. If they want a homemade lunch, then fine by me. However, there are slight changes to the law: 1) The girls have to accompany me to the grocery store to choose their lunch items; and 2) They have to assemble those meals by themselves.
I spent a small fortune on plastic baggies at The Dollar Tree. Pinterest to the rescue! Crafty moms offered a simple, stylish solution: A Bento box! Ever heard of it? I first experienced lunch in a Bento box at a spa in Scottsdale, AZ (many years before kids). My healthy fare was delivered in a little bamboo crate divided into 1/2 and 1 cup servings of bean dip, vegetables, some type of grain salad, fruit sushi, and dark chocolate squares. I washed the delights down with an overpriced bottle of Perrier and felt like a million dollars — much like my restaurant tab.
Bento box-style lunches are very popular, especially if parents have picky eaters or those who like to play with their food. I yell at my children for both behaviors, but I can see how much better they eat if the options are pleasing to the eye. Now friends, let’s keep it real: This mother will NOT cut shapes into sandwiches. Why? Because I tried that when our first born went to kindergarten. 1) No slice of bread is ever big enough to cut into the shape of a heart; 2) I refuse to get up at 5:00 a.m. to make goofy sandwich faces with raisins and strips of red pepper. If you’re this type of parent, I’ll compliment you on being Mother of the Year, and then I’ll talk about you behind your back. Pinky promise.
However, I will say that if you have snackers instead of meal eaters, these stackable, washable, lockable lunch boxes are the way to go. Pinterest also helped ease the stress of shopping by publishing grocery lists that break out grains, vegetables, fruits, and healthy desserts. Can’t I do this by myself? Yes. Well, I used to, until our neighborhood grocery store decided to move everything around and make me spend two hours looking for hummus.
Bento boxes are available online through the Laptop Lunches website, or in somewhat generic form at Target and Walmart in the aisles stocked with leftover containers. Brown bags and plastic baggies are quicker and easier, but they do start to pile up in the pantry and then in the trash can. Bento-ware is also a fun way to control portions, Mom, in case you’d like to treat yourself to a spa day at home. It has to be cheaper.