Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lunch on October 13, 2011 - showing some restraint!

I continue to love the Planet Box lunchbox I blogged about yesterday.  It's so sleek and really well designed.  There are a few kinks to work out, or just accept.  For example I have just resigned myself to the fact that the once beautiful carrying case is going to get gross.  I spot clean it each time it comes home but there are always stains on it.  Either food has leaked onto it, or Juju touched it with dirty hands, or she dropped food on it (she eats from the stainless steel container while it's still in the carrying case).  But I'm still in the honeymoon phase with this lunch container so I'm sticking with it.  I looked at one of Juju's other lunchboxes on the counter today and felt sorry for it; it's not going to see the light of day for a while.  My friend Lirona mentioned in the comments in yesterday's post that her daughter's preschool likes the Planet Box because it's only one container for them to help her daughter open.  That's a good point.  And Lirona likes that it's only one thing to clean.  I agree but I don't like that the magnets need to be removed to clean the lunchbox because I clean it every day which means I am removing and then replacing them each time.  It gets a little annoying.  I wish they were washable stickers instead.

After a whole lot of today's lunch came home in the Planet Box, I came to terms with the fact that I am sending too much food for lunch.  So, for tomorrow's meal I tried to show a little restraint.  One of Juju's classmates who was playing with Juju's Planet Box during pick-up time showed me that Juju's fork set can fit perfectly into one of the compartments in the unit.  Brilliant!  You never know how much you can learn from a 3-year old.

I took the friend's advice and filled one of the compartments with a fork for tomorrow's lunch which kept me from filling that area with food.  Along with the fork I am serving mac and cheese with veggies, edamame, and orange slices.  I really tried hard to leave the center section empty but I had some dark chocolate covered sunflower seeds in my pantry and I couldn't resist adding a little bit of color to the lunch!

I happened to be at Target today when I stumbled upon a great sale on Thermos brand stainless steel straw water bottles.  Ok fine, I didn't exactly stumble upon it, I often check out the kid's lunch section for fun (call it research for this blog).  Anyway, these water bottles usually cost around $18-$20 dollars each and today they were on sale for about $13.  Unfortunately none of them are plain, they all have characters on them but at this price, I don't really mind Juju shilling for Hello Kitty at the lunch table.  I can't find a link on the website but you can find them in person.  While I was there I checked out the variety of lunch bags, boxes, and containers available for sale.  They didn't have any interesting stainless steel options but some of the lunch bags themselves were really cute and well priced.  If I were in the market for a lunch bag (I'm not, I'm not, I'm really not!) my choice would be the Rambler lunch bag or a super cute one that isn't online but is in the shape of a frog and comes with a frog ice pack.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The lunch box fairy delivers again - the Planet Box is here!

As you know I have fantasized about a number of stainless steel lunch containers on this website and have added a good number of them to my repertoire with mixed reviews.  You'll remember I swooned over the much ballyhooed Planet Box lunch box only to turn on it later because of it's price, low rating on the "cute" scale, and seeming inflexibility.  Well, as the proud new owner of a Planet Box, I have to say, I was wrong, it's pretty incredible, and Juju and I are in love.

First I have to explain how it came to be that I own a Planet Box lunchbox in the first place.  You'll recall I had vowed to stop purchasing lunch box accessories and focus on making the most of my current stash.  But, I have no control over the Lunch Fairy (who, it turns out, is alive and well and living in New York - after a brief sojourn in Los Angeles when she brought me these).

One of my oldest and dearest friends Erin told me she was coming to LA to visit her family and friends with her husband and ADORABLE 3 month old son, Freddy.  Erin has done so much for me over the years; she consistently goes above and beyond what normal good friends do for one another and I hope I she knows how much I appreciate all she has ever done for me.  Naturally I offered to loan Erin a bunch of Juju's old baby stuff to spare her the hassle of lugging a car seat or stroller across the country or wonder where her little guy would be able to nap comfortably.   Considering how many times Erin has helped me pack up and move dorm rooms and apartments, lug odd-sized things around Manhattan, fend off unwanted advances from cab drivers, and just been there for me as one of the most positive influences in my life for the last 15 or so years, it was the least I could do.  And since her sister lives so close by, I didn't really think I had done very much by dropping the stuff off before her her arrival.

Well, according to Erin, I had done her such a big favor that she deemed Juju and I (but let's be honest, it was mostly for me!) worthy of a visit from the Lunch Fairy.  I could hardly believe my eyes when I opened up a box left on my doorstep last week containing the Planet Box, a beautiful purple carrying case, and groovy magnet/stickers to go on top.  It was so unexpected and unnecessary yet absolutely the perfect gift.  Thank you Erin.  If only you knew getting to hang out with you and Scott and Freddy was gift enough!  You're amazing.

Juju played with the box (without food) all night long and I was so excited to pack her lunch in it the next day.  It has so far exceeded my expectations.  The box is really well designed and I love that the lunch is packed flat (it looks like a mini lap top in a case when packed) so it's easy to store in my crowded refrigerator.  My only problem is that I end up serving more food than I normally would because I try to fill each space with food for aesthetic reasons.  I either need to get over that or figure out ways to make less food look like more.

Here are the three lunches I have served so far with the Planet Box.  The first is shells and cheese with peas, cucumber, avocado, strawberries, and a few chocolate covered raisins.

Today I served cottage cheese, brown rice, tomatoes and cucumbers, strawberries and raspberries, and a mini brownie bite.  I am not sure how I feel about sending a dessert every day.  It was easy last year knowing that we couldn't send any dessert; I didn't have to decide.  I hadn't been sending dessert this year until I learned that on Mondays, the hot lunch served at school comes with a dessert.  I didn't want Juju to feel left out when sitting next to her hot lunch-eating friends so I sent a sweet with her lunch too.  Today's lunch experience also revealed that Juju is probably the first luncher to bring a Planet Box to school. . .nobody noticed that she didn't put the lid back on the cottage cheese container when she was packing up her lunch today and it leaked all over the beautiful new purple carrying case.  Fortunately, it washed pretty easily.  But it was really gross and I'm not sure how to prevent it from happening in the future.

And tomorrow I am serving homemade turkey meatballs, brown rice, green beans, a cut up plum, and ok, yes, another brownie bite.  We have a few small brownies in the freezer leftover from an event this weekend and I might just have to include them until they run out.  My lunch packing-induced OCD is kicking in and I'm just not content to leave any compartments empty.  The first step in healing is admitting you have a problem, right?

I still love Juju's new for school blue lunchbox and I am sure I will go back to it at some point when I decide to switch things up but for now the Planet Box is just too much fun!

Saved by the egg

I have been working really hard and have been a bit stressed but, blogging here really relaxes me so I'm excited to take a break and catch you up on a few lunches gone by.  One of the major stressors is actually something great - Milkstars nursing tops and dresses are now available at A Pea in the Pod stores on the East Coast and are expanding to more stores - maybe near you! - this holiday season.  It's been a lot of work on my end but I'm hopeful it will turn into something great.

Even though I haven't been writing, I have been documenting some of my lunches with photos.  About a week or two ago, it was Sunday night, and around 9PM I suddenly remembered I had to pack a lunch for the next day (and the next day, and the next day).  I kind of freaked since we didn't have much food in the house but then I remembered that my husband loves eggs and we always have a ton in the house.  And then I remembered my friend Annie H. once gave me a great recipe for mini-frittatas that I blogged about here.

Fortunately, I had most of the ingredients needed either fresh or frozen (in this case I used frozen spinach and a red onion since that was the only kind of onion we had around).  I played with the proportions a bit to make more frittatas without actually having to double the recipe and things came out really well.

Here is a photo of the frittatas when they came out of the oven.

And here is the lunch I put together with other things we had in the fridge.  The rice also came from the freezer.  Trader Joe's sells frozen bags of 3-minute rice which are good at the last minute when I realize I have not packed any sort of grain for my daughter and remind myself that my 3 year is not on an Atkins diet.  On the contrary, as you might remember she never met a carbohydrate she didn't like.

Our whole family ate the frittatas for lunch; they were great hot or cold.  I even sent them as snack another day that week.  The lunch that day was half a turkey sandwich, fruit, and homemade butternut squash soup that I hope arrived to the lunch table warm but I will never know. . .