domi arigato, mr. bento

bento1gac

The Gravy Baby’s bento box, which you can own here; I have no idea why this frog is smiling through his tears

I have a new obsession: packing the Gravy Baby’s lunches for school.

bento2gac

Left: the Gravy Baby’s lunch one day consisted of white flesh peaches, strawberries and yogurt melts for snack and Israeli couscous, broccoli, lightly pickled cucumbers, and roasted salmon; top right: another day’s snack of poached apple pears, strawberries and blueberries; bottom right: roasted golden acorn squash and fresh peas

It started out innocently enough.  I bought two adorable bento boxes, thinking that they’d be a fun and easy way for the Gravy Baby to contain all of his food for the day.  It didn’t even dawn on me that packing bentos would appeal not only to my love of food, but — oh my — the organizational possibilities!

Within a couple of days I’d acquired some accoutrements to keep things separated inside the Gravy Baby’s bento.   I wasn’t trying to be that obsessive at first, but then I realized that separating things inside the Gravy Baby’s bento helps with being able to tell his teachers what’s for lunch and what’s meant to be his snack.  Plus, I can nestle in some of his dry foods, like Cheerios, right next to his fruit without worrying that the Cheerios will become a soggy mess.  (As a side note — seriously, the man who invented Cheerios should’ve been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, so powerful are they in restoring calm and order in our house.)

bento3gac
The Gravy Baby’s bento, all laid out

I also like how packing bentos for the Gravy Baby challenges me to always think of varied, interesting meals for the Gravy Baby that are full of flavor and color.  It’s actually changed the way I pack my lunch, too (the hubby does his own, for various reasons, but mainly because he’s a good egg who doesn’t want me to spend hours in the kitchen every night transferring blueberries one by one into his lunch box as well).  I think for the grownups, bentos make a lot of sense because you can control portion sizes and see all of your food options laid out for the day.

It does leave me to wonder, however, what the Gravy Baby’s teachers must think of me.  As I lightly pickled his freshly sliced, locally grown cucumber slices the other day to give him a little bit of acid to go with his Israeli couscous and roasted salmon, a brief thought crossed my mind: is it possible that I could be going just the teeniest, tiniest bit overboard?

bento4gac
Nah.

For more information on packing bento boxes, check out:

This excellent blog on bento’ing

What better way to pack your bento than in a ninja panda?  Or a weepy frog?  Or a squinty duck?    

For grownups, the hubby and I have used the Classic Bento and Ms. Bento for years

Silicon muffin cups in different sizes are great for separating items, and are dishwasher safe

Alternatively, insert a food-safe  grass divider

I just bought these cutters to make vegetables into adorable shapes 

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