Cheater Bento

So technically it’s not cheating, but here’s an easy and inexpensive way to start Bento-ing for your kids without laying out big bucks, or driving to one of the large metropoleis if, like me, you live in a region lacking in Japanese food supplies. Of course you can simply order online too. Which I did. But that’s another post.

In the baby/toddler products aisle of stores like Meijer, Wal-Mart, etc., you may stumble across this cute and very useful snack box by Sassy, called the On-the-Go Feeding Set. I found mine locally for $5.99 and have been packing it full for school lunches for my younger daughter. I know it looks tiny, but following the Bento model can be loaded with calories. And since I also pack a similar container for the afternoon snack, I’m not worried that she’s eating too few calories. Honestly, since I’ve started doing this, I think she’s eating more calories. Certainly, she’s bringing home fewer mangled leftovers.

It isn’t super tight and leaks a little, but I take that into account when filling it. And there isn’t as much of a learning curve to packing it as I’ve found there is with a traditional Bento box.

If you want to check out the different styles of easily accessible Bento boxes for kids and don’t want to get your hands dirty, check out where Melissa shows pictures of the different types, and evaluates them by size, washability, etc. She even has a Sassy Box category, where you can see the Sassy lunches she’s created.

And how about you? If you’ve used one for your kids, especially for those on specialty or medical diets, I’d love to hear how it’s working.


Low-carb SCD Bento, or Where to Score a Phenomenal Menu Planner

ume ladybug bento
Photo used under Creative Commons from gamene

Without whining about all of the details, I’ll tell you that I spent 17 hours this past weekend cooking. Am I crazy? Probably. But when my husband mistakenly said earlier this weekend that I was “enthusiastic” about my daughter’s diet, I had to correct him. “I’m not enthusiastic; I’m desperate.”

Those of you who have kids with behavioral and/or digestive issues know that the reward of the hard work of a successful dietary endeavor is no comparison to having a child who’s out of control, unable to attend class, or sit in a car seat, or worse yet losing weight due to malabsorption.

My daughter has been on the SCD for three years and for the first time, getting her to stay on the diet is becoming problematic now that she is in kindergarten. My heart goes out to her. I know that she wants be like other kids, but within the past few weeks she’s started getting snacks from her table mates at school, sneaking her sister’s food at home, and most embarrassingly, stealing a forbidden candy from a store while my husband was distracted paying the bill. Ouch! So much for my perfect parenting award.

I’m hoping to redeem myself, and make her life a little easier, by upping my game when it comes to the lunches and snacks she takes to school. She can be picky when it comes to food, especially in her lunch—while her friends are watching—and that in combination with the restrictions of easily transportable, ready-to-eat SCD food, led me to contemplate Bento.

Never heard of Bento? Me neither until recently. But what kid wouldn’t love supremely cute lunch boxes filled with scenes of forest animals, or comic characters—not just lunch, but art? Granted, traditional Bento foods are not SCD, gluten-free, or even low-carb, but I’m on a mission and I won’t let that stop me.

I’ve found a phenomenal Bento site, chock full of resources, including recipes, pictures (definitely the most helpful), and equally as important for thinking ahead—and for getting one’s family to stick to the plan—is a meal planner. I have been using meal planners of one sort or another for years, but this is the Holy Grail of (on paper) meal planners.

It’s a full week, with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for each day, along with extra space for notes and a shopping list, but the best part is the Bento lunch section. It is organized graphically, which means that the lunch section looks somewhat like a mini Bento box and each section is proportional to how much of that type of food: protein, carbs, vegetables, fruit/snacks, you should include in your lunch. Obviously, for the SCD Bento, one has to alter it a bit.

If you would prefer more Americanized Bento lunches for kids, check out bentolunch. The Bento photos in the masthead alone are worth the visit, but you’ll want to make sure to check out the What’s For Lunch weekly post where commenters leave pics of their cute Bento lunches.

If you have a cute SCD, gluten-free, or low-carb lunch site or picture to share, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


About LivingLaVidaMama

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Formerly, I've worked in publishing and been a medical student. Currently, I'm a freelance writer and copy editor, and full-time mom with two exceptional daughters. LivingLaVidaMama focuses on intentional frugality and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that has dramatically improved my younger daughter's autistic-like symptoms. Contact me at MadForWriting at