Part Three Bento Lunches: What to Pack 

So you have read my previous post and made a pledge to pack healthy lunches this year. (You can make an official pledge at Power Your Lunchbox for coupons, free printables and prizes!) You have purchased an awesome lunchbox and maybe some fun tools to use but now you are feeling a little lost about what to put in them (Check out my lunchbox tools post here) No worries, I have composed for you a list of my go to foods for lunches!

 Proteins

  • Deli meats
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned chicken
  • Meatballs (I always have a bag of frozen meatballs on hand)
  • Hard boiled eggs or egg salad
  • Falafel (I get these frozen at Trader Joe’s)
  • Sunbutter (or nut butter if your school allows it.)
  • Sausage links or patties
  • Veggie burgers
  • Hummus

Grains

  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Pasta salad (Have you seen the adorable shaped pastas that World Market carries?!)
  • Pita
  • Whole grain bread
  • Wraps
  • Bagel thins
  • Plantain chips
  • Crackers: my favorites are Annie’s Homegrown, Special K multigrain, Trader Joe’s Edamame, pita chips and pretzel thins
  • Popcorn
  • Cereal

Dairy

  • All natural sliced cheese (great for cutting into shapes!)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Babybel cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

Vegetables (Raw)

  • Carrots
  • Bell Peppers and mini sweets
  • Celery
  • Green beans
  • Snap peas
  • Jicama
  • Lettuces
  • Tomatoes (grape and cherry)
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini and yellow squash

Vegetables (cooked) 

  • Carrots*
  • Bell peppers*
  • Green beans*
  • Peas*
  • Corn*
  • Edamame*
  • Succotash*
  • Butternut and acorn squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Broccoli*
  • Cauliflower*
  • Greens (Kale, collard, mustard)
  • Dr Praeger’s broccoli and spinach little bites (Whole Foods)

*I keep bags of these veggies frozen at all times and just pack a serving as I need them. I often just let them defrost and serve without heating, especially corn and peas!


Fruit (fresh)

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Clementines or tangerines
  • Plums, pluots, plumcots
  • Melons
  • Berries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes

Fruit (frozen)

  • Berries*
  • Peaches
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple

*Frozen berries work great to mix in with yogurt or to make a smoothie but do not hold up in the defrosting process to serve as your main fruit!

Fruit (canned in 100% juice) 

  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Apricots

Treats

  • Cookies: my favorites are School house cookies and yogurt shaped stars from Trader Joe’s, Annie’s Homegrown animal crackers and Bitsy’s Brain Food Alphabet cookies (found at Target and Kroger)
  • Cookie butter (Trader Joe’s)
  • Dips: ranch, ketchup, BBQ sauce
  • Chocolate chips
  • Dried fruits

Most often when people say they can’t pack bento lunches they site two main reasons.

  1. It wastes food. The only food I waste is the crusts of bread. As do millions of moms who cut the crusts off of their children’s sandwiches! But you could even save these and make bread crumbs from them. When I cut cheese and vegetables I most often put those leftovers in my own lunch for the next day. You could easily use veggies for soups or stock and save cheese to top casseroles.
  2. It costs too much. I can just about guarantee that the lunch I packed is cheaper than buying a lunch able. And certainly healthier. However, one thing to keep in mind when you shop. Always buy in season! You will pretty much never see me pack peaches in the middle of winter unless they are frozen. Also buy small quantities of items. Yes, I may pack 3 fruits for my daughter each day between breakfast, lunch and a snack. However, when I buy bananas I only buy 3-4 at a time for the week and 1-2 apples and pack her a quarter on an apple and take the rest for myself.

What are some of your go to lunch items that you pack for yourself or your kids??? I would love to add to my own collection!

Happy Packing and come check me out on Instagram @hollyamethyst for more lunch ideas and come back here soon for some fun holiday lunch ideas!

Holly

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Fig Bruschetta 

When I used to think of August only hot, sticky days with a longing for a Pumpkin Spice Latte would come to mind. Until I discovered a love of fresh figs. My co-worker had a fig tree and would bring them in for me at work. The first time she brought them I had no idea what to do with them. She suggested I make a version of this delicious bruschetta. I fell in love after that. It is sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy all at the same time. Truly just one of the most decadent but simple appetizers you can make.

Sadly, her tree did not make it through a harsh winter a few years ago and now every August I am left searching for decently priced figs.  Luckily, I have been able to find good deals at our farmer’s markets and Trader Joe’s. I am also patiently awaiting for my own little fig tree to grow from a cutting that same co-worker was able to grow from her old tree. (I work with some of the best people!)

If you have never had a fig before, give this bruschetta a try and see what you think!

  • 1 French baguette
  • One container of either blue, goat or feta cheese
  • Fresh figs
  • Honey
  • Coarse sea salt

Set oven to 350 degrees and slice baguette on a bias. Cover with cheese of your choice (my favorite is blue). Remove stems and halve your figs, slice them so they will fan out. Place bread in oven for about 5 minutes, just long enough for cheese to begin to melt.


Remove bread from the oven and switch oven to high broiler. Place one half of a fig on each slice of bread. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sea salt. Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes, keeping your eye on them to prevent burning. Remove and try not to eat an entire baguette of bread. 

 

I hope you enjoy this delicious treat! What is your favorite way to eat figs??

-Holly (@hollyamethyst)

Fall Fashion

As we put away our shorts and sun hats and say farewell to the Summer, we welcome Fall! A new season brings new opportunities, new weather, and let’s not forget about the NEW clothing trends! Because yes, even in California the weather gets a bit chillier come Season change!

Small shops are beginning to showcase their Fall/Winter lines with us and I can’t wait to share a few of my favorites with YOU all! From comfy and cute to warm and unique, here is a list and sneak peek into a few shops’ Fall/Winter lines! This will give you an idea on where to get the ‘it’ clothing for your little’s this coming season! Take notes, there may be discount codes involved!

Brunsters_Ink
This shop always has stood out to me with its fun and quirky designs, and their Fall/Winter line is NO exception! I’m so excited to see some Halloween movie inspired pieces in this shop’s Fall 2015 drop! Check out what they have to offer for our kiddo’s this Fall season! Use code: FIFTEEN for 15% off!

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Chazing Arrows
This particular shop I know by their oh-so comfy harem shorts and exciting pattern designs, BUT that is not all they offer! They have pulled out all of the stops and also offering leggings, shirts, rompers, and more! Their pieces are at the top of my list for comfort and quality alike! This is just a taste of what they will have to offer this coming season! Use code: FREESHIP15 for FREE shipping valid until 8/23!
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Radical Kid Co.

I first knew this shop from the amazing infinity scarves they offer, but they have SOO much more now! I’m happy to see a shop come out with stylish and super comfortable sweats! These are a definite necessity for the up and coming Fall season! Check them out and use code: INSTAGRAM for 10% off!

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Now that you have read into and seen a small glimpse into each shops Fall/Winter collection, you have but one thing left to do- SHOP! Happy shopping friends!

IG FAV @tylerhuan

Well, it’s time for another IG FAV. This time we bring to you one of my top picks of ALL TIMES… Mr. Tyler all the way from Malaysia! Here’s what his momma, Haze, has to say about this little fashion star and while we’re at it, we’ll share a few of our fav photos of him with you….

My name is Haze and I am Tyler mama , we are from sunny island Penang Malaysia . Tyler is 21 months old turn 2 in few months time , can’t believe my baby soon to be TWO, how time fly without I am realize it . I am a stay at home mom , basically I am work for my little boss Tyler , 24 hour , 7 day per weeks. I am fully enjoys every single moment with him. Tyler is a happy , cheerful and active baby , he on the move most of the time , he love outdoor activities. Tyler help mama feed and walk the dogs daily . Tyler love his furry friend , he play with them most of the time . 

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IG Fav @acolorfulreality

Another IG Fav.. Lux… here’s what her momma has to say about her:
This is Lux- She turned two this past June and is proud of it. Her biggest news right now is that she is going to be a big sister, any day now! Two spunky little kiddos running around is a dream come true for us! We’re excited to see if her baby is a brother or sister. Lux loves to play outside and pick out leaves, rocks, and sticks that she can add to her never ending collection. She really appreciates the little things in life and relishes in the colors and smells that she sees outside. She is an avid jumper and gets great height on a trampoline and off it. She loves playing pretend, especially with her baby dolls and stuffed animals. They come alive and do everything with her when we’re home! She’s super artsy-something momma can’t relate to, but enjoys watching her creativity grow as she is coloring, drawing, forming play doh figures, and painting. Her favorite place to go is the waterpark or any outdoor park that she’s with her daddy…they’re the best of friends and she can’t get enough of his teasing or chasing. Lux has been working with shops as a brand rep since she was 10 months old. Her trademark piggies and urban trend has given us the privilege to work with over 60 shops and kids boutiques.  Lux is an animal lover…she especially has a thing for kittens, puppies, horses, and sea creatures. Feel free to follow us over at @acolorfulreality and follow our journey of Lux and her little brother or sister as we explore life as a family of four!

And for a few images of the diva:

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Part Two Bento Lunches: Supplies

So you read my last post about WHY we should pack lunches and you’re considering starting to make bento lunches. Now it is time to figure out what supplies or #momtoys work best. First and foremost, I feel the need to say that this post is not sponsored. I am a brand representative for FunBites but other than that I have purchased (or been gifted!) all of the tools and supplies that I recommend. 🙂

Boxes:

Yumbox: This is my go to for efficient packing that still looks good. Yumboxes are leakproof, portion controlled boxes created for kids. You can put applesauce in a container and not worry about your crackers getting soggy!! GENIUS! It also keeps apples, bananas and avocados from browning. For real. It really works. Promise. I literally cannot say one bad thing about my Yumbox. It was the first bento supply I purchased for Grace and I still use it a few times a week and it remains in great shape. They have released a new style (the Panino) that has room for a full sandwich or small salad that is a little better portioned for adults. I am able to pack a Yumbox in no time. 

 Easy Lunchboxes: I also use my Easy Lunchboxes all the time. These are priced so well and the size is bigger. I use Easy Lunchboxes for my own lunch about 3 days out of the week. The containers are not leakproof so you don’t want to pack wet items like yogurt or applesauce in there unless you KNOW it is not going to get turned upside down. Grace is still young enough that I carry her lunch bag to the kitchen in her day care and it goes directly in the fridge so I am able to worry about that a little less. I like Easy Lunchboxes because they are a little bigger and when I want to do more food art type sandwiches or lunch themes I have a little room. 

 Other popular bento boxes are Bentgo Fresh and Planetboxes. I have heard great things about both and see them in use A LOT but have never used them myself.

Cutters:

Cute Z Cute Animal Cutters: These are probably my most used set of sandwich cutters. It is a kit that comes with a frog, panda, pig and cat. You can make an adorable sandwich in no time. I do use low calorie bread and have found that it does not always come out as neatly as I would like.

FunBites: As a brand rep, I do receive their cutters. However, I can honestly say, I love this thing. It is super cute to make a quick sandwich and is very versatile in what you can create with the shapes. Currently, they have a heart shaped, squares and triangles option. It is pretty sturdy and dishwasher safe, too. 

 Wilton’s Cookie Cutters: If you are looking to get a great variety for holidays and all seasons on the cheap, I would recommend the 101 cookie cutter set from Wilton. This is going to give you numbers, letters, shapes and tons of seasonal options. You get what you pay for with this set. They are not very thick or sturdy but will be fine to use on bread or thinly sliced cheese.

Biscuit Cutters: I also have a set of 5 round biscuit cutters that I use to make a lot of my sandwiches and then add my own details. These are very versatile as we use them pretty regularly for cooking.

Fondant Cutters/Vegetable cutters: For all the details or small pieces that you see in my lunches I will use fondant or vegetable cutters. I am on the lookout every holiday for sets at places like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. My favorite to use was my ABC set that I sadly lost some time ago and can’t find ANYWHERE in my kitchen. (Don’t ask me about bento organization, I clearly have none 😦 )

Miscellaneous:

Silicone molds: Silicone molds are fun to add details to lunches. Be on the lookout for the different shaped silicone ice cube trays or candy molds. These are also found in the holiday sections of stores and with cake and candy decorations. I like to put canned pumpkin in my pumpkin molds, freeze it and pop one out to add to yogurt or oatmeal in the fall.

Silicone cups: A must if you are going to pack a bento that would have both warm and cold foods. If I am packing Grace a Yumbox and pack her leftover chicken and also grapes I will put the chicken in a silicone cupcake mold in the compartment of the box so her daycare can just pop the silicone cup in the microwave. These also come in tons of different colors and shapes to add a pop of color or add on to your theme.

Food Picks: I do not personally use food picks yet. This is ONLY because 1. I don’t think they will come back home from day care and 2. I don’t want Grace to poke her playmate with a food pick at the lunch table or worry one of her friends will take them and poke HER (or themselves, or their eye..) with one 🙂 I am planning on getting some for home though because food picks are hands down the quickest way to make a boring lunch cute. Packing some slices of turkey? Just roll it up and put it on a cute panda bear food pick and it INSTANTLY looks more fun with almost no effort. You can also start saving all of those cupcake ring toppers that you get on birthday cupcakes. You could have a Jake and the Neverland Pirate lunch in no time if you went to a party with this as the theme!

Tweezers! Sounds crazy, right? But so helpful for detail work. 

Sprinkles! Because they are awesome.. And pretty. 

  
I would recommend going to Amazon or All Things for Sale (a bento and baking supply company) to check out tons of adorable and dangerously affordable fondant/veggie cutters, molds and food picks.

Come back soon for my next post in this series that will give you some great ideas for what to pack in those boxes now that you have them. Also,come find me on Instagram @hollyamethyst to see all of my lunch creations (and my adorable daughter 😉 )

Do you have any bento or lunch supplies that you can’t live without???

IG FAV @quincyandskylar

Quincy and his momma are Brand Reps for us over at @paperplanelaneboutique! Here’s what she has to say about her little fella:

Howdy! Quincy also know as Lil Q is 5 years old and has a personality as sweet as candy🍬. He is the oldest and big brother to his little sister Skylar and very protective of her. He loves playing soccer, basketball and video games. He will be going to kindergarten in a couple of weeks and will miss being home with mom and sister. Quincy loves to dance his favorite dance is “watch me whip watch me Nae Nae”. He is a mommas boy. He does not like any kind of bugs, getting dirty or getting scrapped knees. He also does not always like taking photos have to bribe him with letting him play a video game or something he loves to get him to at times you would think the older they getting the more willing they would be. For more photos and a little glimpse of our life follow us @quincyandskylar.

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