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Posted on Mar 15, 2008 | 18 comments

Breakfast for lunch bento

Breakfast for lunch bento

Sometimes it’s fun to pack breakfast food for lunch, as I’ve done before with French toast, pancakes, waffles, and my version of an Egg McMuffin. Kids especially like the do-it-yourself aspect to the toppings and spreads that come with breakfast foods, like maple syrup, Nutella, jam, etc. You don’t have to be stuck making a fresh batch of pancakes or waffles on a weekday morning, though — make a little extra if you make them on the weekend when you have time, and then freeze them for a quick lunchtime option. Check out the full how-to posts on freezing pancakes or waffles for a refresher.

Mini pancake bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Blueberry mini pancakes, little pork sausages & ketchup, cucumber slices, cheese triangle, car-shaped molded quail egg, simmered red bell pepper with Korean barbecue sauce.

Prep for quail eggs and sausages

Freezing homemade pancakes

Morning prep time: 12 minutes, using frozen homemade mini pancakes and the multi-boiling speed cooking technique. In the morning, I microwaved the little frozen pancakes, sliced the cucumber, and briefly boiled the sausages, sliced bell pepper and washed quail egg together in the same tiny pot to save time. Because the quail eggs are tiny, they boil in just a few minutes. Once they were cooked, I peeled the two and molded them in a quail egg mold (the big yellow multi-egg mold in the photo below; see my earlier post on molding eggs). (Read on for full lunch packing info and an additional bento lunch.)

Egg & rice moldsPacking: I put the sauced bell pepper in a reusable plastic food cup to keep it away from the cucumber, and filled a little yellow sauce container (from Daiso Japanese discount store) with a tiny bit of maple syrup for the pancakes. I don’t use maple syrup often in bento lunches, so I hadn’t pre-filled any sauce containers for speed. There was no room left in the bento box to pack a larger container of ketchup, so I fell back on the disposable “mini mini cups” with little film lids to keep condiments in place (also used here). As long as the sauce is viscous (mayo, ketchup, tartar sauce) and you don’t treat the bento roughly in transit, it stays put. The little condiment cup also filled the remaining gap in the box, stabilizing the lunch for transport. I threw in a little blue Anpanman food pick for the bell pepper, to make it easy for little hands. The lunch is packed in a 350ml Disney Cars bento box with both subcontainers in place for stability. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

Mini cups for dipping saucesVerdict: Good over time. Three-year-old Bug at the pancakes, sausages, cheese and egg during preschool, and had the peppers at the playground after school. Thumbs down on the sliced cucumber, though, so I’ll experiment with packing a dipping sauce for those to see if that’ll get him to eat cucumbers.

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Mac & cheese bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Organic shells & cheese pasta with sauteed zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and chicken & gouda sausage, plus a couple slices of roast chicken, cheese, grapes and a peeled longan.

Morning prep time: 5 minutes, using leftover mac & cheese, and roast chicken from Costco that I’d sliced up previously. In the morning I microwaved the mac & cheese with a few drops of water to restore texture and peeled the longan. Bug doesn’t mind room temperature cheese, but if he did I’d stick with packing it in a thermal food jar as I did here.

Packing: No special tricks today, except to peel the longan to make it easier for little hands to eat. The lunch is packed in a 360ml Geki Rangers bento box with one subcontainer removed to make more room for pasta.

Verdict: Again, good over time. Bug ate all of the pasta, the cheese and a few of the grapes at preschool. After school he at the rest of the grapes and the longan (with my help — evidently he was wary of the longan pit on his own, and wanted me to help take it out). For some reason he didn’t want the chicken that day, although I know he likes it. Maybe if I’d packed a little container of our beloved Lizano sauce (sources here ) it would have been more fun for him.

FURTHER READING:

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  1. Try peeling the cucumber. Even half peeling it in stripes will make it look a lot more interesting around the edges and it makes it a lot less chewy without half the skin. That’s always my main complain with cucumber sandwiches, the chewy, thick skin.

  2. What brand of Korean BBQ sauce do you use and how do you use it when you put it on vegetables? As a marinade, or as a sauce?

    For the cucumbers, I would try natural peanut butter, soy sauce and a pinch of salt, and maybe garlic if your son likes it, that always got me scarfing down cucumbers as a kid!

    K

  3. Have you tried Bug with creamy salad dressing for dipping things like cucumber into? Or it might be fun in a squeezy dispenser. I know the creamy dressing is what makes salad irresistable for me.
    Just wanted to say I love seeing what Bug and you have in your bentos. I think they’re always great, so it gives me lots of ideas for my lunchboxes. Thanks so much!

  4. @1 from Jenny: Good point on peeling the cucumber skin (in stripes, etc.) — that might eliminate texture issues for him. Thanks!

  5. Hi Biggie– came across a product that might interest you:

    http://cmb.stores.yahoo.net/pantry.html

    Not spamming you, I swear– I’m pointing out the Stokes mayonnaise products. They have a British curry/sultana/apricot mayonnaise called “Coronation Sauce” that looks interesting, as well as several others. The “Coronation Sauce” is supposed to be good on chicken. I found it through a New York Magazine (?) article about unusual new food choices in NYC– they were raving about the richness of the mayo. It’s a bit pricey, but I might get some as a dip for a nice change of pace.

  6. I don’t know if Bug likes hummus, but it’s one of my favorite things to eat with cucumber slices (especially roasted red pepper hummus, mmm.).

  7. I do this pattern in the cucumber with a potatopeeler making it furroughed without peel, regular with peel, and then all around. Determining how short distance you leave between peel and furrough decides, of course, how much peel there is. Then I cut it. That way you get the sense of it all. In a regular cucumber a huge majority if water anyway. The peel is what constitute the little fibre you have.

  8. @3 from Lilletia: Hmm, Bug does love creamy ranch dressing and I’ve got plenty of fun containers to put it in. Thanks for the kind comments!

  9. @5 from Becky Anderson: Thanks for the Stokes mayo link (and also for explaining that you’re not spamming — I appreciate it and do tend to delete the occasional commercial spam comment). Those mayos do look intriguing, especially the Coronation sauce (how unusual!). Price is high, but I’m definitely interested in trying it. Hmm…

  10. @8 from Jessika: That sounds like a cool yet easy way to leave a little peel on the cucumber while giving an interesting visual. Thanks for the tip!

  11. I’ve been freezing mini pancakes ever since I read your first bit about freezing them. My daughter loves them. On her days at daycare, I have to pack both breakfast and lunch for her, so the pancakes really go over well for her breakfast box.

    I’m with everyone else on either peeling the cucumber completely, or in stripes. I also use the bumpy (thats not the right word) edge of the potato peeler. It gets most of the tough part of the skin off, but leaves some of the darker green. We do this with zucchini as well. My daughter also likes it cut into fun shapes.

  12. I was wondering if you ever thought of teaching a class on bento or even doing demonstrations/ lectures sometimes. I live in the San Francisco Bay area and would love to learn more tips in person. Maybe do a field trip to bento stores. :)

  13. Just wondering where do you buy lonquat in SF?! I love those, and never seem to see them in US… but actually your picture looks more like a longan — well those are yummy too, are you ever able to buy them non-frozen?

  14. I think it was the sight of the sausages AND the eggs AND the pancakes AND the sauces that made me wonder how nutritionally sound it is to feed this to a pre-schooler for lunch, when the child would also be having a home-cooked meal at some point. Mind you, it also depends when children come home from school, too. My son is at home at 12.30, and will have his main meal at about 3pm, therefore he doesn’t need a very full bento before his main meal of the day. My daughter who eats her tiffin tin lunch at school will also be having her main meal at about 3.30, so I don’t pack too much in so that she wont feel too full. Where I grew up (New Zealand), the after-school program finished at 5pm, so I suppose children would need to eat more to keep them going longer – this is something I didn’t take into account when comparing the lunch box contents on other websites.

  15. @20 from maria: Bug does a longer day at preschool a couple times a week (until 2:30), and we usually go to a playground afterward so he can play with his friends and don’t get home until 4:00 or so. I encourage him to finish up his bento at the playground if he’s left food, which usually works. He has a little snack once we get home, as dinner isn’t until about 7pm (so we can all sit down together and eat as a family).

  16. I love your site, but this is a little freaky…my childhood nickname was Bug, and my parents often packed lunch for me in a bento. Such sophisticated food for a preschooler, though! I need to start doing this for myself, I think. Campus lunch is neither affordable nor stunningly tasty.

    Oh, and do you mind that I sign this as “Bug”? It’s become my nickname everywhere online, but I don’t want to sound trollish. :)

  17. @22 from Bug: That’s a funny coincidence! Of course I don’t mind that you sign your comments as “Bug”, but thank you for the explanation.