Bento Lunches In The Heart of Montana


You've Got Mail...

Posted by Kathleen on November 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM Comments comments (0)

OK, really I’ve got mail but I’m going to share it with you so it’s almost like you’ve got mail.  Exciting right?  Well, it only gets better…


One of the things I love about bento is the complete lack of disposable items used.  Did you know that family of 3 using plastic baggies, disposables and the like creates 4,320 pieces of trash a year just during lunchtime and spends an extra $400 annually.  FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS – in the TRASH. 


One the things I have not liked about bento is how difficult it is to find a good sturdy box that I know will have longevity.  All of the bento boxes I have for the Princess are plastic.  One hinge has already broken as a result of a drop, another has a plastic hinge that you can tell is not long for this world.  Plus buying them from strangers on E-bay always seems a bit of a gamble. 


So my dear friends if you have not heard of ECOLunchbox allow me to introduce you to this shiny gem of wonderfulness!!!! 




First the gleam of this box is some kind of wonderful – but the gleam comes from the fact that it is 100% stainless steel…..SO NO BREAKING….I’m in heaven, because although I call her the Princess, she is in fact as dainty as an elephant. 


I have to say when I first saw the hinges I was concerned that she would have a hard time opening them but they hold firm and glide right open – a big bonus.  These hinges are not going to be breaking.



This particular box is the 3 in 1 Rectangle Lunch Box and has two stacking layer PLUS a little nesting box with a lid. 


When closed, the lunchbox measures 4 inches wide, 5 1/2 inches long and 2 3/4 inches high..I love that it is deeper than any of our current plastic boxes. The bottom layer is 1 inch deep and fits a whole sandwich on sliced bread or a large cut sandwich. The top layer is 1 1/2 inches deep and the the third nesting box will hold 1/2 cup of wet food. Because there are no plastics used to create a gasket the seal on this box is not liquid tight so I’ve filled it with yogurt and frozen berries.  The bottom tray has 1/2 cup of rice and 3 ozs of terriyaki chicken.  The top, a full cup of Asian cucumber and tomato salad....(Tuesday we'll talk about bento for weight loss).





I have to tell you I am LOVING this box and the size of it – Eco Lunchboxes markets it as a kids lunch box and it is perfect for that – especially if you have a kid that doesn’t like food touching.  BUT, the size is PERFECT for a traditional bento with adult portions….you know assuming the adults in your family don’t mind food touching… and the slick stainless steel design means that even they boys/men in your house won’t mind taking this box.  


SO if you are looking for one last gift to put under the tree or in the stocking THIS is one will not disappoint  and the napkin that you’ll get FREE using the code ecobento when you check out makes a perfect wrapping, watch how here:


Take a moment and check out thier website at  and oh and let Santa know that I have been a very good girl this year and would LOVE an ECOLunchette under the tree please.  If you are a working Mom or Mom on the go – this is a super stylish way to take your bento with you!!


One last bonus of – it’s a woman owned business and that ROCKS.


Posted by Kathleen on November 16, 2010 at 10:39 AM Comments comments (0)

I worry when go to movies these days.  I do enjoy the show, but I am also paying attention to details because as sure as the day is long I will receive a request for themed bento.  AND that is exactly what happened when we watched Megamind this weekend….we hadn’t even left the theater when the Princess asked for Megamind in her lunch on Monday.  I put her off until Tuesday… here he is……MEGAMIND.






His color is a bit darker than it should be and the picture doesn’t show that there is actually a little pink around his ear but otherwise I like him.  Basically he’s just a bologna sandwich but that’s OK.  The top tray has some thin sliced carrot ribbons and a bit of sliced egg.



Tomorrow….Sweet Potatoes



Its Turkey Time!!!

Posted by Kathleen on November 11, 2010 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (2)

Whew....I was completely running out of ideas for Halloween lunches, thank goodness we have moved on to Thanksgiving.

So today's lunch had a little turkey in we aren't cooking it yet, but I think he's too cute to cook.


So our little turkey is just a simple cut sandwich but let's talk for a minute about the pasta.  I found this great fall shapes pasta at one of my favorite stores...Cost's hard to see in the photo but the pasta is in the shapes of fall leaves.  Even better than the pasta is the great bright orange sauce made of butternut squash.  It sneaks in a little more veggie and the Princess adores it so it's a new favorite around here....and take a closer look - in with the pasta are fresh green beans.  I love adding veggies to pasta because while the Princess is not really a picky eater getting veggies in this way is just that much easier.

Stay tuned for tomorrows post about bento supplies at Dollar Tree...yep, Dollar Tree.


Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy....

Posted by Kathleen on October 29, 2010 at 5:57 PM Comments comments (0)

So long old pal.  Today is the last day our little ghost friend will be making a bento appearance this year. 






Today he’s a little trick-or-treater.  Amazing what two eye holes and a couple of nori circles can do to transform him.  Today is also the last day for our monster mouth in school lunches (it will be making a command appearance in the Princess’ birthday party lunches tomorrow).  The top tray has just a few banana slices, apple slices and a bit of peanut butter for dipping.  Captain Hindsight says I should have turned those grapes into some really creepy eyeballs by peeling them but I’ll file that away for next year.


Time to brainstorm Thanksgiving ideas AND don’t forget next weeks Give Away.

M.I.C...See you real soon K.E.Y....

Posted by Kathleen on October 27, 2010 at 10:09 AM Comments comments (0)

Because we like YOU!!  OK, I have seriously dated myself but I just couldn’t help it.  Since our Disney trip this summer the Princess has been all Disney all the time.  So when she asked for Mickey again in her bento today I was happy to oblige.


It has been my goal not repeat bento designs this school year and while I have been pretty successful thus far today’s lunch come fairly close to some others.




So today’s lunch features our good friend Mickey again (what can I say she loves him) on a bed of rice and meatballs round out the bottom tray.  The top tray has carrot sticks, sweet snap peas and on top of the carrot sticks are the “magic eggs”  The yellow yolk egg is just a boiled egg, but the white star shaped egg is egg white with a mozzarella “yolk”.  The little Mickey container has a bit of ranch. 


Today lets take a look at the amount of landfill waste in this bento.  There is none.  Most bentos don’t use disposable containers, wrappers, or other things that will end up in our landfills.  So not only are the cute, but they are environmentally friendly…that’s a win win.



Come back to Montana Bento next week for a chance to win some Color Mist by Wilton.  If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time you know this is my go to coloring for cut sandwiches.  Also next week the “secret” behind the totally awesome shaped egg yolks.




Posted by Kathleen on October 26, 2010 at 10:37 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you remember the Minion bento?  I nested the little minion in what turned out to be a hidden Mickey sandwich and while my daughter liked the Minion, she squealed with delight at the hidden Mickey so you can imagine her delight when she opened her bento box and found this:




I have mentioned in the past how her Princess make-over completely changed her outlook about her broken lip and we are now another Disney obsessed family. So today’s bento features the King of Disney himself, MICKEY.  Her lunch is actually very simple (except for those eggs…we’ll have a tutorial about those eggs next week along with a surprise giveaway) a bologna and cheese sandwich with Mickey (made from pasta sheets) some left over pasta and fancy boiled eggs.  The heart eggs are just regular boiled eggs but the yellow yoked eggs actually have no yolk at all…the yellow is cheddar cheese and corn.


Eggy Cheesy Muffins

Posted by Kathleen on October 19, 2010 at 10:18 AM Comments comments (0)

I’m always looking for something to send in my daughters lunch that is not just another sandwich and these Eggy Cheesy Muffins fit the bill perfectly.  Here’s the GREAT thing(s) about these muffins A) they are super easy to make B) they taste GREAT as “left overs” and C) they have veggies in them!!



Eggy Cheesy Muffins



bacon, diced



onion finely chopped



garlic clove, minced






carrots, grated









cheddar cheese grated






baking powder






dried tarragon


Pre-heat oven to 350


fry bacon until crispy. Drain bacon reserving 1 tbs of grease. After pan cools slightly clean with paper towel and return pan to heat, add bacon grease, onion, garlic and veggie's. Cook, stirring, until veggie's soften - 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl to cool.


In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk and cheese. Add flour, baking powder, salt, tarragon, bacon and veggie. Stir until just combined.


Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake until edges start to brown and tops spring back when pressed, 20-25 minutes.


after baking refrigerate muffins or freeze to eat later. Microwave for 30 seconds (50 if frozen) to reheat.

Servings: 12

and if you haven't already go take a peak at Jessica's Disney Memory - it was such a great day for her and seeing that people "like" her photo has been such a big boost for her.  Sadly Disney has taken it off of the main website so you can no longer search Princess or Orphan Princess and find her but you can still see it with this link -

From an Orphan to a Princess


Posted by Kathleen on October 18, 2010 at 10:58 AM Comments comments (0)

The Princess is beside herself with anticipation of the new Disney movie Tangled.  So when she found out that Rapunzel was now greeting people at Disneyland she renewed her request for a trip to Disney on Christmas day as both her birthday and Christmas present – being sure I understood…”just one present for both things, get it Mom?”  Well we just can’t make that trip happen for her but I put this together for her lunch today.




Typically when I make her sandwiches using pasta sheets I cut the shapes out the night before but last night I didn’t do that so everything had to be cut this morning.  I wish that I had time to perfect the attachment of the spaghetti hair to the sandwich and boy do I need to work on my faces BUT I think she’ll be happy when she opens her lunch today.  I did send a side car of spaghetti sauce :-)


On a non Bento note most of you know that my daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate.  They have been repaired but the Princess is still keenly aware and hurt by people, especially children, staring at her face. 


This summer we went to Disneyland and Jessica had a make-over at the Bibbidi Boppity Boutique.  That make-over transformed her day.  She walked tall an proud the rest of the day, holding her arms out to her side like a princess.  Every time a cast member called her Princess she beamed with pride.  On that day she just knew that everyone was looking at her because she was a Princess, not because her lip was broken (as she calls it).  If you ask her today she will tell you that she HAS a Fairy God-Mother. 


So when Disney started their Let The Memories begin campaign Jess asked if we could send her picture in and she was delighted when it made it to the website.  Then when she noticed that TWO people liked her photo she was amazed…when 30 people liked her photo she was on cloud nine…people like HER.  Her lip matters not.  Thanks to many many people Jessica’s picture now has 1700 likes.  If you have a moment can you please go to her picture and “like” it too?

Click Here to see Jessica's Disney Memory


This isn’t a contest, there is no trip to Disneyland, she doesn’t win a prize.  But she does WIN.  She wins every time she looks at the picture and sees the “likes”, she wins the knowledge that people see her, and her face and like HER.  It has been an amazing journey for her from an orphan to a Princess.  And while your looking at Jess' life changing memory - take a moment to look at all the others as well.  It really is such a nice website and Disney has out done itself letting us all participate.


Cut Sandwiches

Posted by Kathleen on October 14, 2010 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)









The very best way to start sending bento lunches with your child is to start small.  In Montana it is next to impossible to get authentic bento supplies.  Bento boxes – nope, nori cutters – not in this state, sandwich molds – none at all, BUT all is not lost. 



It doesn’t take any specialized supplies to create cut sandwiches in most grocery stores you can find decorative sandwich cutters like the pink one in the picture.






Other things I use for cutting sandwiches are just plain cookie cutters.  The large copper cutters came from a specialty cooking shop in Billings, the small round cookie cutter came just from Michael's as did the pumpkin shaped cookie cutter.



TIP:  When making cut sandwiches cut each piece of bread out individually.  If you are using things like bologna or cheese, cut them out individually as well and then construct your sandwiches.  If you attempt to cut a sandwich after it has been constructed you will get to much “squish”.




Now that the holidays are upon us today's challenge is to dust off the cookie cutters and make a cute cut sandwich for your little one.



Posted by Kathleen on October 11, 2010 at 12:11 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the more common reasons to avoid packing bento lunches for children goes something like this….”you are so creative, I could never come up with those ideas”….so lets talk a little about inspiration and creativity.  I’m not particularly creative, most of the bentos I make are inspired by something….I’m an imitator :D 


Bento themes come from everyday life.  I love it if I can make a lunch that relates to something the Princess is doing that day…


Swimming at Day Camp….





Fishing at Day Camp…..




Other ideas come from the Princess herself… the day she wanted a tree in her lunch.  Those days are bit harder for me as I have to figure it out on my own.  Sadly this is the result of the tree request….




Other ideas come from movies – a minion from Despicable Me….





And last night we watched Wall-E….



Inspiration can be found all around us.  Look around.  What inspires you?  What makes your child smile?  Start small….maybe just a cut sandwich…your child’s heart will smile.