Here are my bento from last week! I've also come up with a few tips if you're trying to get started packing lunches :). I'm trying to stay away from microwavable foods because the microwave at school is a bit moody, so I'd love some no-heat food suggestions if you can think of any!
This had to last me the day since I had to work right after school, so it's a bit more food than usual.
Top tier: Pita bread, homegrown cherry tomatoes, carrots, Babybel cheese.
Bottom tier: Ham roll ups (ham, cream cheese, and green onion).
Extras: Candy, chocolate/Pocky, gum (to combat the onions! haha), small plum. The white container has roaster red pepper hummus.
I thought I was being clever and made this one all dipping foods haha xD.
Top tier: Chicken nuggets, apple slices.
Bottom tier: Cucumber, carrots, cauliflower.
Extras: Mini candybars, ketchup, caramel, spinach dip, Babybel cheese.
Drink: Santa Cruz organic raspberry lemonade.
Top tier: Steamed pork dumplings from my favorite Chinese joint.
Bottom tier: Dried dates, edamame (frozen, this photo is from the night before. I warmed them and ate them with salt come lunch time).
Extras: Hard candy, mini organic chocolate bar, Babybel cheese, teriyaki sauce.
So here are some money saving/bento packing tips:
1. I think planning is important when you want to start packing lunches everyday. At the end of each week, I try to come up with a list of 5-7 ingredients that can be used a lot of different ways. This way I don’t have to have the same thing 3 days a week. For instance dips or spreads (cream cheese, hummus, spinach dip…). You can pair them with vegetables, pita, lunchmeat, anything! I also like it because I usually end up using everything up and nothing goes to waste.
2. Buy bottled water in bulk. Or drink tap/water cooler water from school or work. Sometimes I allow myself one (overpriced!) coffee or vending machine drink per week. You could also use a thermos and take iced tea, orange juice, or whatever else you have in the fridge from home.
3. Freeze, freeze, freeze. For example, I‘ve bought frozen veggie nuggets, edamame, etc. That means I can also use them the next week if I only wanted to have these items once this week. I think it keeps your menu from being boring! But, I try to limit to one frozen food per bento.
4. Buy in bulk. I get my dried fruit and nuts from bulk bins. That way, it’s cheaper because I only want to use a small amount for the week.
5. Use leftovers. This one is kind of self-explanatory… ;)
6. Invest in one of those little ice packs for your lunch box! They’re only a couple bucks and you can use them over and over. It’s an essential for me, because the a/c in my car doesn‘t work, so my lunch sits in my hot car for an hour on the way to school, yikes :P
7. If you want to buy take out, buy appetizers or a small amount. Or even split a main course in half and eat one for dinner, and one for lunch the next day.
So...what do you do for lunch :D?