Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bento Crazy! Healthy and Easy School Snacks and Lunches

2 Tier Bento Box

Last year when Corinne was in Kindergarten I used this adroable Bento Sidecar for her daily snack.

Often people think you can't fit much in there , but I was able to pack most kinds of snacks with plenty of room. Some boxes are two tier, like this one. One is a little taller than the other, and they fit together or can be used seperately.

Using these containers saved us from a lot of 'disposable' waste. One day while visiting the class at snack time I saw the amount of garbage that was produced by the children's snacks. Juice boxes, returnable plastic bottles, lot's of individual chips packets, etc!

Inside I use silicone muffin cups. I cut the height down to fit the height of the bento. You can get silicone muffin cups at Michael's, Target, specialty cooking stores and I even got a few packs at the Target Dollar Spot last year! I fit three cups in each box. I filled the three cups with all kind of things for a healthy snack.

Some things that I serve are:

Grape Tomatoes
Black Olives
Green peppers cut up
Mayo Cup of Blue Cheese Dressing for dipping
Turkey Pepperoni
Roast Beef (cold cuts) Rolled up
Mini Hot Dogs w/ small party size potato rolls*
(Hillshire Farm or Nathan's Mini Little Smokies or Hot Dogs)
Balogna cut into small circles
Orange Slices
Kiwi Slices
Any kind of small cookie or cracker,
(I like Paul Newman's Chocolate Chip cookies)
Chocolate Kisses

*Corinne's Snack time is late in the day and the snack bags were not refrigerated.
She likes her dairy products very cold, like yogurt or cheese, so I serve snacks like that as after school snacks. Also the school had a no peanut rule so I did not use any nut products.

But there are so many things you can pack in a Bento. It's a great way to encourage kids to have the coolest (aka healthiest and most 'green') snack in the class!

Here are some cute Bentos and some good Bento Food Idea sites/blogs to get you going!

Bento Crazy Shop & Bento Crazy Blog

What's for Lunch at our House


Crock Pot Spinach Lasagna

Crock Pot Spinach Lasagna

1 Box Lasagna Pasta 
2 C of your favorite Italian Sauce
8 0z bag Shredded Mozzarella {save 3 heaping spoons}
15 oz container of Ricotta or cottage cheese, use to taste
fresh spinach {save a few leaves}
Cooking spray 
½ cup water 

Spray crock pot with cooking spray for easy clean up 
Place few spoons of sauce to cover bottom of pan

  • Assemble in layers as: 
    Place uncooked pasta on bottom of pan
    Spoon sauce a top the pasta 
    Spoon ricotta/cottage cheese a top the sauce
    Sprinkle with mozzarella
    Cover with a generous amount of fresh spinach
    Dot sparingly with sauce
    Top with uncooked pasta

Repeat the layering process 
Top off with saved cheese and the reserved leaves
Pour water around perimeter 
Cover and cook on low until past is tender, about 1  1/2 to 2  1/2 hours.

{Crock pot cooking times vary check periodically the first time you make it for your pot's time frame} 

This is a great recipe because it is so easy and can be varied just the way you like it. Use as much or as little of the ingredients that you like. I used low fat cheeses and made mine pretty saucy. I prefer only a little Ricotta cheese so I used less than half of a small container. I also pinch the stems of the spinach. I used Barilla no-cook Lasagna but you can use regular, just don't pre-cook it! You could add anything to this, mushrooms, sausage, olives, etc.  So customize yours just the way you like it. 

You'll also want to determine your cooking time too. I put mine on LOW and for about 3 hours later because we were out. But I would say about 90 minutes may be enough. Mine came out a little mushy but the taste was great!

A good go-to meal for and easy meal that doesn't have to slow cook all day!

These cards were made with 'Saxon's Holiday Kitchen'
and ' In My Kitchen' courtesy of Saxon Holt @ Scrapbook Graphics
Font used is 'Lithos Pro'

Papers from Holiday Kitchen

Pasta from In My Kitchen