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Posted on Dec 12, 2007 | 20 comments

Frozen waffle bento lunch

Frozen waffle bento lunch

I like to change up lunch every now and then by packing breakfast foods, like I did with this frozen mini pancake lunch the other week. Over the Thanksgiving holidays I had some extra time, so I made a big batch of homemade buttermilk waffles for brunch and froze the excess for future breakfasts and bento lunches. Everyone who grew up watching those “leggo my Eggo” commercials knows that you can freeze waffles, but when packing the toasted waffles be sure to let them cool thoroughly before packing them away in the bento box. If you put them in the box warm and close it up, the waffles will get soggy with condensation and compromise your packed lunch’s food safety.

Frozen waffle bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler lunch: Frozen buttermilk waffle with maple syrup and Nonya kaya (a.k.a. serikaya, a Singaporean coconut egg jam), Babybel wrapped cheese, edamame skewers, fresh pineapple, and apple wedge cut like a rabbit (new tutorial here). Kaya is not as sweet as traditional jams, and is delicious spread thinly on hot toast. I dipped my toe in the water by buying a jar of kaya from Ocean View Supermarket near Daly City, but evidently you can also make your own kaya quickly, using a breadmaker! It’s a bit of a heart attack on a plate, but quite nice for a treat.

Morning prep time: 10 minutes, using frozen waffles and leftover cut pineapple. In the morning I popped a frozen waffle in the toaster, microwaved some frozen edamame and put them on skewers, and made the little apple rabbit (the key to making these is giving it a short soak in acidulated ice water after cutting the peel to prevent browning and make the ears stand up). I added lemon juice and a little Splenda to the ice water for this effect without a sour taste.

Condiment containersPacking: I put the edamame on little Anpanman skewers so that my three-year-old could easily get a whole mouthful. (He eats them up when they’re on skewers, whereas he just picks at them if they’re loose.) The waffle got cut into individual squares to make eating easier for little hands. I used a pre-filled sauce container with maple syrup to save time, and filled a little red pig container with thick kaya — the pig’s “feet” hold a yellow paddle for spreading. The pineapple went into a little coated paper baking cup with Japanese and English animal names on it (from Daiso Japanese dollar store with branches internationally). The lunch is packed in a two-tier 465ml “Pon de Lion” bento box from Mister Donut. (Click any photo for a larger view.)

Verdict: Oh, so too big for one meal, but just fine for a meal and an afterschool snack. Three-year-old Bug ate half of the waffle, apple and edamame, leaving the pineapple and cheese until later. I should really stop making any effort on decorative apples that leave the skin on, as Bug just eats the part of the apple that I’ve peeled, and leaves the rest. Goodbye rabbit apples!

Frozen waffles

Freezing: The key to freezing homemade waffles is to first take them out of the waffle maker while they’re a bit underdone, so they can finish browning in the toaster. Cool them thoroughly on a cooling rack, then wrap each individually in plastic wrap to reduce the chance of freezer burn. Pop the little waffle packages into a freezer bag or plastic freezer container, and freeze. Use within a month for best quality, although theoretically these will keep indefinitely if stored below 0 degrees C (not F). To eat, unwrap and heat in a toaster or toaster oven.

* * * * *

Turkey roll-up bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler lunch: Turkey roll-up sandwich, fresh pineapple and grapes. I find the turkey roll-ups from Costco a bit tasteless and in need of mustard, but Bug inhales them.

Morning prep time: 3 minutes, using roll-ups from Costco and pre-cut fresh pineapple. Lightning speed!

Packing: I used the removable divider to help stabilize the cup of pineapple even after Bug started eating the rolls (helpful as then the pineapple was still in place after school — he left it for later). The pineapple went into a reusable silicone baking cup to keep the juices away from the dry roll-up, and a little tree-shaped pick (US$1.50 at Daiso for a set of 12 funky animal picks, also available at JList) helped little hands manage the fruit. The lunch is packed in a 470ml Afternoon Tea bento box.

Verdict: Super thumbs up. Bug loves these darn roll-ups, begging for them every time I take him along with me on a Costco shopping trip. He ate both of them and the grapes during preschool, then finished up the pineapple at home as a snack.

Have you voted in the prestigious 2007 Food Blog Awards yet? Lunch in a Box is up for Best Food Blog — Theme and Best Food Blog — Family/Kids categories, and voting closes 11:59 pm EST on Friday, December 14th (in a couple of days). If you enjoy this blog I’d appreciate your vote (click to vote for Best Theme and Best Family/Kids blog, no registration required). Thank you for your support!

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  1. these bentos are too cute!
    I noticed that the really cute bentos are usually small bento boxes :) but I eat a lot so my bentos always look really messy and plain !

  2. My stepdad makes yummy french toast with homemade whole wheat bread that he buys from an Amish farmer’s market that sets up in his office park, of all places. He freezes it on cookie sheets and bags it for snacking during the week. I’ve always liked breakfast for dinner, too. We would have scrambled eggs and homefries when mom was really busy.

  3. @1 from Momo: I don’t know, maybe it’s that some parents are more inclined to make children’s bentos look cute (which are naturally small, for the small appetite). I definitely have three levels of cute for our lunches: maximum cute for my three-year-old, medium-low for myself, and SUPER-LOW for my husband (no cute tolerance). What are your priorities? If you want to spend time making it cute, by all means go ahead!

  4. @2 from eudyptes: Hmm, I haven’t made French toast in about a year — your stepdad’s sounds great, made with local whole wheat bread. The other breakfast food thing I pack for lunch sometimes is scrapple (I know it’s a love it or hate it type food…).

  5. Hi Biggie,

    Thanks for the quick kaya link. I never thought of using a bread maker.

    Have you tried different waffle recipes? Can you recommend a good one? I always keep a stash frozen in the freezer too :).

    Thanks very much.

  6. “Santa” is bringing a waffle iron for the family – looking forward to filling lunches with waffle treats :-)

  7. Hi, Biggie: Your blog is the best! I not only get hungry while reading it but also ambitious about bento-making. I have a question: My mother-in-law, who is from Tokyo, once cut me an apple just like you did for Bug: rabbit-shaped! I forgot to ask her how she did it. Can you provide some brief instructions when you have a chance? Arigatoo gozaimasu in advance!

  8. @7 from Ahricat: Ask and you shall receive! After reading your comment I went and took photos for a quick rabbit-shaped apple tutorial; it’ll be my next blog entry. Running out the door now, but I’ll write it up tonight. :-)

  9. @5 from niceties: I’ve tried a few waffle recipes, but keep falling back to the Cook’s Illustrated one with a little optional cornmeal for texture. It calls for beating the separated egg whites, though, so it’s more of a weekend dish…

  10. @6 from Wicked Good Dinner: I like your Santa!!! Can he visit me too, bearing kitchen goodies?

  11. I really love your blog. It is truly inspiring. I can’t wait to get to Daiso ASAP to get started! Thank you for sharing.

    Jackie
    http://living.weelife.com/

  12. @12 from Jackie: Thanks for the kind comment, Jackie! Daiso rules — I hope you enjoy. Be sure to take time to wander around all of the different sections, not just the bento section. There’s a lot of good stuff scattered in different areas, so keep your eyes open.

  13. This is a great idea! I want to do this with my Hello Kitty waffle iron ^__^

  14. @14 from dejikowaffo: Hello Kitty waffles sound cute! Look forward to seeing your Kitty waffle bentos… :-)

  15. Cool! I’ll show you when I make them ^__^

  16. If you spread kaya and butter on a piece of thick toast, it is simply delicious!!

    Way more delicious than onyl kaya alone.

    In Malaysia and Singapore we called it “roti kahwin”, literally means the kaya and butter married. :>

    Do give it a try won’t you?

  17. @17 from Audrey: I know what tomorrow’s breakfast will be! Thanks for the tip, Audrey. :-)

  18. @19 from dejikowaffo: Okay, those Kitty waffles are just seriously cute! Frozen homemade?

  19. Thanks, and yup! They’re homemade with my Hello Kitty waffle iron, and I froze a couple for bento use. It’s a great waffle iron, there’s also shapes of Mimmy and the little Hello Kitty bear too! ^__^

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