Tag Archives: lunchbox

Bento updates: packing the Planetbox Shuttle

For as long as I could remember, I’d been eying the Planetbox. For the unacquainted, it’s this ingenious stainless steel bento-style lunchbox. The genius is in the shape and sizes of the compartments and the way the lid snaps on to keep everything in its place:

Look at that cute little square for treats!

Alas, I would balk at the price. $40 for the box, upwards of $60 if you include the carry bag and accessories like sauce containers. Our set of dining chairs was cheaper than that! So onto my dream wishlist it would go.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to test-drive one of their newest versions. The Shuttle (basic set starts at $34.95) is much smaller in scale, meant for snacks or a sandwich and a side:

I knew right away that it would be perfect for packing a kindergarten lunch. When it arrived, I was kicking myself for not springing for one sooner. It’s nice. Really nice. Thick, heavy-duty stainless steel built to withstand years of use make you realize the cost is worth it. I used the shuttle every day last week to see how versatile it is. I’m used to one or two moreĀ  compartments, but there’s plenty of room to fit the same contents a bulkier bento would thanks to how much space the lid creates when closed, if that makes sense. I could stack three sandwiches in the main compartment.

The challenge is in maximizing space and keeping everything separate that should be. Large silicone muffin cups and these IKEA baking cups fit perfectly height-wise. It really is the perfect size for a kindergartener’s appetite, especially when he has 10-20 minutes to eat. It also fits nicely into the LL Bean lunchbox we use with room to stack a juice box or other containers on top.

The only drawback is that it can be tricky to pack with vertical space in mind. So, Planetbox has a meal-planning page on their website where you can create an account and browse a gallery of what other people are packing. You can also build a meal, filling compartments with pre-selected images of food that you can ultimately save and use as a visual guide for later. Again: genius.

Here are my the-sun-isn’t-even-up-yet pictures of meals last week: browse more on Instagram.

planetboxcandycane

planetboxornaments

planetboxpasta

planetboxsnowman

planetboxpenguin

planetboxsandwch

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Bento School Lunches

**Hi there. I’ve moved and have been blogging at howaboutcookie.com with lots of new school lunch and food art ideas. See you there!**

I’ve always admired bento bloggers and the lunches they’d whip up for their little eaters. I never thought I’d become one of them, though. I mean, the time it takes to craft panda-shaped patties or Angry Birds out of babybel cheese? No thanks. I’d rather sleep in. Plus, I don’t cook. Some of these bentos I see online are like mini Top Chef dishes. I cook enough to get by, but I’ve really only got 5 good dishes under my belt, and anything beyond dice-sautee-serve and I feel myself getting sleepy.

This year though, I caved. With my 5-year-old starting kindergarten, I knew I’d need to give the guy some incentive to finish–at least mostly–his lunch. He’s a notoriously slow, selective (trying to wean myself from labeling him “picky”) eater. And being in school for seven hours with strange new people would be hard on anyone. I wanted him to have something to look forward to, a piece of home to soothe the homesickness, and a fun way to hopefully change his relationship with food.

So after scouring the internets for ideas, I started putting bentos together for him and for my 3rd grader. After the first few days I realized that there’s no turning back. First, the bar has been raised. Now that the boys think their lunches are cool, I can’t go back to pb&j in a plastic baggie. Second, making these is actually kinda fun. I get to play with their food, and there’s this weirdly immense satisfaction in figuring out how to pack everything so it all fits or choosing complementary colors. There are a lot of things about parenting that I feel a little crazy about, things I probably should have under control but I don’t. Being able to feed the kids and show them my love in this small way feels like a mommy win.

So feel free to follow me on Instagram, where I post daily pics of their lunches.

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And browse some bento blogs for inspiration:

happy little bento
wendolonia
following in my shoes
bent on better lunches
a boy and his lunch
bento zen

bento monsters

Those last two are pretty ridiculous. As in ridiculously jaw-dropping. Those are just pure eye candy. I scroll through their Hello Kitty-shaped pizzas and cheese-and-nori matryoshka dolls and stuff my face with kettle corn as if it were movie night.

A lot of it, I realize, has to do with having the right tools. Products that seem to be the “best” and favored by bloggers:

1. Lunchbots, particularly the ones with built-in dividers, like the Trio.

in action via bentonbetterlunches:

2. Easy Lunchboxes (which look a lot like what I use. I use the cheap ziploc version but plan to upgrade soon):

in action via following in my shoes:


3. Ecolunchbox, particularly the three-in-one tiffin-style set:

in action via happy little bento:

4. Silicone muffin cups. Keeps everything neat and tidy, and the squishability makes them versatile. Target has them right now in their dollar spot, a 2-pack for $1.

5. All kinds of cute accessories, mainly found on the browsing black hole that is allthingsforsale:

So. Are these time-consuming? Yes and no. If I’m smart and cut up a week’s worth of veggies, I feel like an unstoppable one-woman machine. If I don’t plan ahead, I have to start these things at 6am and I want to tear my hair out. We’ll see how long I last, but I’d like to stick with it the entire school year.

Famous last words, right? I still don’t cook so this should get interesting.

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