Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bento Box Bandwagon

I'm jumping on the bento box bandwagon for school lunches because

1) it's easy and eco-friendly lunch packing
2) it forces you to create healthy variety
3) Tripp's teacher kind of told me I had to!

Finding the perfect bento box, however, was a bit of a challenge. Below, I review 7 popular bento style lunch containers and give my opinion on the best one. 

We'd been using a mix-match of reusable sandwich bags and containers all smashed into a lunch sack. I was feeling adequately eco-conscious with these products but still stressed about packing lunches in the morning. Turns out, other moms had similar swag because the teacher said lunch was just awash of opening 73 containers per hungry toddler.

No longer! You must send your child with one divided lunch container.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Bento style eco-friendly lunch boxes are all the rage right now; surely I can find one in a flash. Why, I'll just run over to whole foods, they've always got stuff like that...

Not so my friends.

In fact, whole foods sells the worst kind. One container plus lid filled with 4 or 5 other containers plus their lids such as this.  Way too many pieces! Not teacher approved.

Therefore, I'm writing this post because, after an exhaustive search, I have found a good solution and feel the need to share my findings.

Sidenote: It really was exhausting. I went to 5 different stores (stupidly with kids in tow) and did a ridiculous amount of online research, extensively reading reviews and everything! I was emotionally tormented: Do I pay a million dollars for a lunch box or do I just buy something easy that will ruin the earth and cause my kids cancer? Like, ridiculous. Hence, sharing of information below.

The challenge: Find an eco-friendly, affordable single container but divided lunch box for kids. 

The lunch box winner is: Lunchbots

Shop LunchBots

But let's start with why the losers suck first.

Easy Lunch Boxes: Basically this is a glorified disposable plastic container you could buy at target. It claims to be of more sturdy and better materials, but it is still made of plastic. It is not leak proof and all the reviews say that the lid tends to come off too easily in transport. It's about $14 for a set of 4, which is economical, but it seems like you'd have to replace frequently unless you hand washed, but who has time for that? Next.

Planetbox: Ok, honesty corner, this product seems awesome! It's made of great quality stainless steel and has multiple portion controlled compartments. It comes with "little dipper" containers for messier foods like applesauce, yogurt, salad dressing that fit within whole. On the negative, it is slightly heavy and a larger size so you'd need to buy their carrying bag; it won't fit in a regular kid's lunch sack. Bummer. So for the whole shebang it will cost about $60. per kid. Yikes! Yeah, I just can't do that for a 3 year old and an 18 month old. I really really wanted to, but we're on a budget here. Next.

GoGreenLunchBox: This one was looking promising. Leak proof, divided container. BPA-free plastic, but still plastic. Hmm. Ok, price? $35 for container and carrier. Yeah, nope. Next.

EcoLunchBoxes: Looks great, better on the price at $25, but too many parts. Need a single container divided box. Next.

thinkbaby: Stainless steel, leak proof, $13, sweet! but not divided. and small. boo. Next.

Steeltainer: Stainless steel, leak proof, divided, $12, woohoo! but really really small, only holds 11oz. Tripp eats like a starving gorilla. Next.

Soooo, I'd already gone a week and a half after Tripp's teacher requested the new style box and still had nothing. It was time to make a decision. I finally bit the bullet and bought the Lunchbots Trio...

It's not perfect, but it fits most of the bill. Single container, 3 compartment box, high grade stainless steel, holds 20oz of food and is yours for 20 bucks. The only major drawback is that it is not leak proof. Lunchbots does sell leak proof containers, but they are not divided. Are you making one soon, Lunchbots?! I'd buy it in a heartbeat, fyi.

In the meantime, I feel pretty good about this decision/purchase. Here are the lunches for tomorrow:

Yes, they are different. Because Scarlett only eats cheese. Scarlett won't even touch the clementines, and Tripp won't eat the carrots or cucumbers, but I'm working on offering them healthy options...

Perhaps from time to time I will share my lunch creations and ideas with you. They won't be anything fantastic, but they will be practical as I try to give my picky kids healthier and less processed meals.

Whether lunch pics make it on the blog or not, I promise you one thing, my lunches will never have a happy face cut out of cheese and grapes and lemongrass roots. I mean, they are cute and all, but c'mon! What kid's lunch stays like that by the time they get to school? And what mom has time to cookie-cut all that crap out? Not I. Waste of time I say. There is no way those raisin dinosaur eyes and pine nut saw-teeth stay put unless your 4 year old carries her lunch box like its a silver platter at downton abbey...but, I digress.

So, are you going to jump on the bento bandwagon too? Will you give Lunchbots a shot? What are you sending your kids with this year? Let me know! (unless you found something better and cheaper in which case I am mad at you for not telling me sooner! but tell me anyway!)


In Austin, I bought my Lunchbots at Whole Earth Provisions, but they are also available online at with free shipping nationwide.

**as much as I wish I received free swag from this blog. I don't. These views are entirely my own and not promoted by any brand or product**

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Instagram slam

Things we've been up to recently...

snuggling, big bugging, eating (as always), cleaning, imbibing, celebrating, splashing and spinning

Shake it, Scarlett!

I know I've posted a few negative stories recently about the trials of Scarlett's toddlerhood, but this girl sure knows how to make us forget her tantrums with dance parties like this in the kitchen...

Where'd she learn those microphone and hip moves? Such a proud mamma right now!

No idea what song she is singing, by the way, but we're jammin' to the song of the summer, Daft Punk's Get Lucky

And super thanks to Auntie Christine who sent the dance party birthday package via sesame. Such a cool app, totally downloading right.this.second. Check it out!

Hope there is some groovin' and shakin' in your kitchens tonight. Gotta keep it fun, y'all!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Defiant preschooler

This article was emailed to me today as part of my babycenter email updates...

Do the people at babycenter have esp? Did someone spy me in the YMCA lobby today and think, hey this mamma needs some help, let me send her an article on dealing with defiant preschoolers.

Here was the scene leaving the Y after swim class with Scarlett:

I am holding hands with Scarlett and Tripp is walking in front of us. Tripp gains a big lead and starts running full speed out the automatic doors into the chaotically busy parking lot. I let go of Scarlett's hand to save Tripp from certain injury, and return to Scarlett offering a hand to walk out together while I carry Tripp. Apparently, Scarlett does not like what just occurred. She throws herself on the floor and demands to be carried.

"I cannot carry you because I have to carry Tripp to keep him safe. But I can hold your hand. Can you hold my hand? Let's hold hands and march out to the car together. Marching, marching!"

Marching usually is a catch all life saver to get S to follow me anywhere, but today she wasn't buying.

"I can't walk, I need you to carry me!" in a high pitched shrill while flailing body parts on the floor.

Scarlett also wasn't buying the "Ok, I'm leaving. Bye-bye. You'll get up and follow me eventaully" tactic either. Long story short, after a standoff in the lobby with many "I feel sorry for you" smiles from strangers while Scarlett screamed that she couldn't walk, and couldn't even stand (um, hello drama queen!!), I huffed out of there carrying a wrangling child on each hip.

Fun times at the the YMCA! Woot Woot!!

Later, in the peace of both children sleeping quietly, I took a few deep breaths, relaxed and read this article. My favorite idea is to treat timeouts as a cool down period rather than a punishment. And if the child is refusing to take a time-out, take one yourself. Not sure if it would have been possible in the Y lobby, but can definitely try that at home!

Whether pure coincidence or streaming security cameras linked to babycenter email division, this article was sent to the right mamma at the right time. Tomorrow, feel free to send the "how to feed a picky toddler" article before lunch time!

What tactics from the article do you like best?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Instagram Slam

What we've been up to lately: birthday, mother's day, rainy days, snuggle days, travel days, play dates, date nights, party nights, and more!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Chicken and Avocado Pasta

My mother in law found this creamy avocado pasta recipe on pinterest. I was a little skeptical at first because it claims to be an alfredo substitute without using cream and/or eggs. hmmm...i only love eating pasta covered in creamy extra fatty goodness...but hey, i'll try it anyway, could use a healthier pasta sauce alternative...


So good in fact that I've made it twice in the past 8 days! Though I wouldn't say it tastes like alfredo sauce, it is absolute creamy goodness with healthy-ish fats from avocado instead of just plain old bad for you heavy cream. 

Original recipe here: flourishingfoodie 

Couple notes and changes: the avocado sauce came out a bit thick after pureeing. I skipped the olive oil in the sauce and added a half to one cup of reserved pasta water to thin it out as needed. I found the roasted tomatoes really made the recipe. I used organic splendido grape tomatoes and doubled the amount of tomatoes when I made it a second time. 

I added sauteed chicken with a little red pepper to round out the meal. 

To make the chicken: 
  1. Cut two chicken breasts in half and then slice across into strips
  2. Salt and pepper chicken
  3. Heat tablespoon of olive oil in non stick pan over med-high heat
  4. Add half an onion or large shallot, chopped. 
  5. Cook until onion is translucent and starting to brown
  6. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1-2 tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes
  7. Stir for 30 seconds and then add chicken 
  8. Let brown on one side for 3-4 minutes, turn to other side and cook until done

Oh, did i mention that this recipe was also EXTREMELY easy? Well, it was! Basically four steps: throw tomatoes in oven, boil pasta, puree avocado, saute chicken. Mix and you're done!

Buon Appetito!

(ps: so psyched to explore more recipes on the fantastic FlourishingFoodie blog!)

Fun with PhotoBooth

it never gets old...

Scarlett says her favorite is the "colors" one. My fave is the chipmunk 4-shot or the perfect unintentional scream painting replica. 

Which do you like best?