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Lunch box love

Lunch box love

Next in a series of things you don’t want to think about yet, it’s lunch boxes!

I’m discussing this now, because some of the beautiful lunch accessories I mention require mail ordering from Japan. And I am only thinking of your schedule here.

Mini_Marvel_Bento_2_grande

I like these two-level round Marvel bento boxes from Bento&co. My son has had the Spider-man one for a year, and it fits stonewheat thin crackers, as well as having a built-in spoon (though not a waterproof section, fyi). It’s a good size for a kindergartener lunch.

Totoro-Bento-boxes-new-05_grande

 

We are big fans of My Neighbour Totoro in this house, and I admit I bought this bento box (also from Bento&co) as much for me as for my son. This is a one-level with a moveable divider inside. It’s a handy one for a sandwich and some baby carrots.

onyx bento

It’s an uninspiring photo, but the two-level stainless steel bento boxes from ONYX are really lovely. The clamps holding the whole thing together manage to be easy to open while also secure. If you’re not keen on plastic, but don’t want to send glass, this is a good solution. These boxes come in three sizes.

lunchskins sharks

We like Lunchskins snack bags to eliminate plastic bags for snack time. The larger bags could conceivably fit a sandwich, but I tend to fill them with things like little crackers and raisins, or grapes, or even a muffin. The little ones are great for single servings of crackers and whatnot for snack time. Beware, when they are new, the velcro can be a bit aggressive, and pops open suddenly, sometimes showering everyone around in penguin crackers. I say this from experience.

And if you need ideas on what to put in those lunch boxes, I have a ridiculously huge Pinterest board on that subject…

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Pan-fried tofu noodle bowls

Pan-fried tofu noodle bowls

pan-fried tofu noodle bowl

I made this tofu noodle bowl for lunch in about 20 minutes, and then the day after that. And then again. It was one of those times you throw together three half-remembered recipes for things, none of which you look up and check, and it actually turns out well. The crispness of the tofu is a pleasant contrast to the pile of noodles lurking under those spinach leaves. I used those baby spinach leaves that come in a mammoth plastic container – they wilt nicely if you sandwich them between hot noodles and hot tofu. Enjoy!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:1] 

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Burrito bowls

Burrito bowls

burrito bowl

I am secretly obsessed with those ‘what I ate’ blog posts and magazine pages. I know, I know, most of them are made up or at least massaged into appearing super healthy. But like most people, I struggle with inspiration for my daily meals.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to start posting recipes for the meals we eat at home all the time – the ones that get requested again and again. They’re not particularly original or very complicated, but I think we could all use a few more of those regular meal ideas.

Burrito bowls are, by their very nature, super flexible things. We eat these at lunchtime mostly, utilizing leftovers in the fridge, but the base stays essentially the same: brown rice and black beans. Often I will cook a batch of onions, corn and peppers to add to omelettes and burritos, and keep it in the fridge. Add hot sauce, nuts, whatever takes your fancy. Skip the salsa and sour cream and use a miso-soy dressing and it’s immediately more Asian, no longer really burrito related but also amazing.

Here’s an example bowl we had today. I haven’t given measurements because this is up to you.

Burrito bowl

  • Cooked brown rice
  • Black beans, rinsed
  • Corn kernels, frozen
  • Peppers, chopped
  • Onion, sliced
  • Cheese, shredded
  • Kale, either raw and chopped or leftover fried kale, chopped
  • Pico de gallo or salsa
  • Sour cream

1. Heat or cook the rice, add black beans if you’re just heating it up.

2. Fry the onion, corn kernels and peppers together, by the time the onions and peppers are softened the corn will be defrosted.

3. Layer rice, then beans in a bowl, top with shredded cheese, and then the onion mixture. All the heat will melt the cheese for you.

4. Finally, top with the kale, salsa and sour cream. Enjoy!

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Macaroni cheese with sneaky butternut squash

Macaroni cheese with sneaky butternut squash

squash mac & cheese

Ever aiming to squeeze more vegetables into my family, I have been experimenting with augmenting macaroni and cheese.

A basic cheese sauce is actually not that much harder to make than reconstituting one from a pouch. I was quite annoyed when I figured that one out! Yes, you make a roux, but it’s just some whisking really. Nothing to panic about.

Butternut squash seemed like a perfect candidate for the added veg as the colour was right, but so often recipes I tried with squash would turn out too fibrous or too watery. Roasting rather than boiling the squash, and pureeing the life out of it, seems to have solved those problems. Finally, I don’t like crumb on top of my macaroni cheese, but by all means, add some breadcrumbs on top and broil for a few minutes until brown.

Macaroni cheese with sneaky butternut squash

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • 500g shaped pasta, like macaroni, penne, bowties
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 heaping tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 60g shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, brush with olive oil. Lay cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until very soft. Let cool for 10 minutes, or until you can handle it with a hot mitt.
3. Scoop out squash flesh with a spoon and transfer to food processor or powerful blender. Process for 2-3 minutes until squash is baby food consistency. Press through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon if you can still see fibres. Put 1 cup of pureed squash in a small bowl, store the rest for another use.
4. Put a pot of water on to boil, prepare pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta and return to pot.
5. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour one spoon at a time, whisking constantly. Add milk a splash at a time, whisking to incorporate.
6. Add squash puree to white sauce, and whisk until smooth. Add more milk if sauce is too thick.
7. Tip in the cheeses, whisking to melt the cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Take pan off the heat.
8. Pour sauce over pasta and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Serve with more parmesan cheese on top.

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Magically turn a mason jar into a lunchbox

Magically turn a mason jar into a lunchbox

I love Cuppow‘s mason jar lid inserts for drinking coffee and smoothies, and now they have inched further into my heart by creating the BNTO jar insert for holding salad dressing, dip, milk, sauce, or, as they so neatly put it ‘separating wet stuff from dry stuff’. You can order a BNTO insert straight from Cuppow, or if you’re in Canada, through Greenmunch. It’s worth noting that Greenmunch cleverly sells single giant wide-mouth jars too.

 

Disclosure: None. I was not compensated for this post, and I don’t even have my hands on a BNTO yet, but I will get one. Oh I will. 

All images/video courtesy of Cuppow

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