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Saturday, 29-Apr-2017 19:14:20 EDT
recipe: kids' funky bento-style lunches
by MICHELLE MAH
FOOD & DRINK

Back-to-School Lunches

What do I do for my kids' lunches? Our mornings are busy enough trying to get all three out of bed, dressed, fed and out the door. To save a bit of time (and headache), I make their lunches the night before. When they are all in bed, that's when I allow myself to have a bit of fun getting their lunches assembled. Like dinner, their lunches are dictated by whatever the local supermarket has in season and on sale.

I enjoy making lunches for my little ones. It is a challenge I truly embrace. Yes, they are picky eaters, but they are picky for food that tastes naturally good. They like bland food for the moment while their taste buds slowly mature. My husband and I remain patient as we guide their palate.

Fresh, beautiful and colourful finger foods in little portions separated by square silicone muffin liners really help focus my children during lunch at school. The liners are great for keeping their food separated in the way that my kids like. It's very fun and totally 'bento style'.

They are at the age where they love their fruits, veggies and sandwiches creatively cut in different shapes too. Cookie cutters of varying sizes work well. Nowadays, I use my cookie cutters more for lunches than for making cookies! 

When making lunches, much like a 'Subway Sandwich Artist', it really helps to ask children what they'd like! For mine at first it was only ham. Then it was okay if I added a little mayo to the ham sandwich. Now? Tomato slices too (the wet seeds removed)! In the near future, I plan to slowly introduce thinly sliced cucumber or lettuce... and then cheese... and then maybe bacon? 

What? Your kids aren't into sandwiches? My girls are not big on sandwiches either, so I have to be creative to ensure they consume enough protein through their diet. Any of these will do for your kids:

  • leftover diced dinner ham
  • ham / deli meat roll-ups
  • sliced ham or Ukrainian sausage
  • cut up hot dogs
  • cheese cubes
  • cooked slices of extra firm tofu
  • pizza
  • tortilla roll-ups
  • homemade chicken nuggets

SANDWICHES

  • ham
  • tomato
  • mayo

DIRECTIONS

The sandwiches were cut out with a sandwich cutter, cake decorating sprinkles were used for the faces, and a candy food pick to keep the ham and tomato from falling out!

VEGGIES

  • cucumber
  • red pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cucumber slices cut out in stars, red pepper stars. I have also used baby carrots, grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas, celery, last night’s corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, baby corn or veggie stirfry.

FRUIT

Mini-fruit skewers on tooth picks are also a huge hit and so easy to do! Any seasonal fruit will work: juicy sweet berries, diced strawberries, grape halves, watermelon, mandarin oranges, Fuji apple slices, etc.

__________

Michelle Mah is a Chinese-Canadian mother born in Vancouver, Canada. Once a System Analyst for a radiology software firm in Richmond, BC, she married a family physician. Together they raise their family in rural 100 Mile House, BC.

Now a busy stay-at-home mom, Michelle's three active children are the inspiration for documenting recipes that have been passed down by her Alzheimers-stricken father in the last 15yrs. She is thankful that she can share the family's heritage through food. Michelle is determined to chronicle not only her father's chow mein recipe and fried rice recipe, but also as many family favourites and regular dishes as she can. Each post on her 'In Michelle's Kitchen' blog is a diary entry for her children to discover later in life, to learn more about their Chinese heritage, and to remember family life through the eyes of their mother.

Michelle Mah
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