Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fit & Fresh Bento Box with Flexi-Freeze Bag

While my mom and I were shopping at the grocery store I came across a cute lunch box that I thought would be useful to my mother. It was a Fit & Fresh "Lunch on the Go" box. Even though my mother already has a bento box (see previous posts), I thought she should give it a try since she loves taking cereal, yogurt, cottage cheese, and dips that all require refrigeration. Bento boxes are typically for a room temperature lunch, so I came up with a few ways to allow my mom to transport her lunch safely, and with the new Fit & Fresh, very neatly as well.

First, lets talk about the box.

It is comprised of a main course container for sandwiches, meat portions, salads, or leftovers; 2 serving containers perfect for yogurt, vegetables, or cottage cheese; an ice pack that serves as a divider between the upper and lower layers; and a tight sealing lid that can also be used as a make-shift plate.

According to the box, the inner ice pack stays chilled for up to 6 hours. It also provides stats on how much the containers hold. For your information, the larger container holds 22 fl oz (660 mL) and each small container holds 10 fl oz (300mL).

Fit & Fresh's website boats that their system "makes it easy to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Innovative Preparation, Transportation, Dining, and many other unique, inventive products combine to create a system to prepare and enjoy healthy, fresh, portion-controlled snacks and meals." Although, I wouldn't really call it innovative nor consider their whole idea behind portion control to be new and exciting. Bento boxes have been around for ages and they boast compartments and portion control. However, Fit & Fresh's ice packs are pretty cool.

Speaking of ice packs...A few years ago, when I was in college, my mother bought 2 of these ice pack-like lunch bags off a home shopping channel. They were made by Flexi-Freeze because you could literally unzip the bag, lay it flat and freeze the whole thing. When you were ready to go, you pulled it out, zipped it up, packed it, and left.

The walls were filled with little bubbles, similar to industrial strength bubble wrap, that were filled with genuine purified water. No more leaky blue goo, or dangerous chemicals.  The whole bag is squashable, stretchable and easy to fit into tight refrigerators. If you have no fridge to put it, you can just leave it under your desk until lunch time. Being a commuter to school, I never had a place to store my lunch, so sometimes I was forced to leave it in my car. Even left in a hot car for over 3 hours, I still was able to eat a cold lunch! It really was a time and money saver.  

Because of having this bag already i decided to pair it up with the Fit & Fresh. Works perfectly! I can't wait to try it out!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rigatoni Bento

Leftovers certainly make the best bento boxes. Everything is home-made, easy to gather and assemble, and if it was loved the night before, perhaps it will be loved again! Thankfully, Jim has no issues eating leftovers, so I pack them for him a lot. This morning I packed a simple lunch with the leftover rigatoni from the night before.

I am submitting this lunch box to Coffee & Vanilla's Wholesome Lunch Box event for September, because of the vegetarian entree (made with organic tomatoes), the organic strawberries, the energy packed nuts and the low calorie cookie dessert. Also, I am entering this pretty little bento into the Not Exactly Bento Photo Contest as well. Wish me luck! ;-)

The main lunch box contained:
Rigatoni (made with fresh home-grown heirloom tomatoes and cheese; recipe found here at Tasty Planner)
• Buttered Italian bread
• Cocoa dusted almonds (to fill in the gaps)

The secondary box contained:
• Organic Strawberries
Camembert wedge (with the rind removed)
Mini chocolate chip cookies fill in the gaps

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Post Camping Bento Box

Jim and I (as well as my entire immediate family) headed north recently to attend my family's annual reunion. Every year, my family gathers at Black Moshannon State Park, in central PA, to camp for a few days before the reunion. It is always a blast, and now that Jim and I have all new camping gear and a tent that is envied by all, we were on cloud 9 (especially with the temperature hovering around 72 the whole time!)

Anyway, after we returned home tired and with our coolers nearly empty, we put away what little food was left from the trip, did some laundry, and we all passed out before having to return to work the following day. Because we had no fresh food I had to be creative with Jim's bento the next day. If you look close you can see all the camping goodies I had to pack the bento with.

The main lunch box contained:
• 1 Nutri-Grain bar (a handy breakfast snack when you're camping)
• 1 peanut butter and blackberry jam sandwich (I like eating PB&Js outdoors)

The secondary box contained:
Fruit Salad (left over from the reunion)

***If I could interject my own blog for a moment: The fruit salad was amazing. Everyone brings a dish to share at the reunion and this was my contribution. It included: cherries, green grapes, cantaloup, plums, nectarines, and strawberries. It was the best ever.***  

I also slid a dessert under the main box's lid:
• 1 melted and then refrozen Hershey's chocolate bar (because we all know smore's are the best)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Quick Sausage Cracker Bento

This is definitely not the nicest looking bento, or the best picture. I couldn't find my digital camera when I needed it so I was forced to use my laptops webcam to take a photo. 

This bento was created for my mother. As I said before she loves German food, so this includes a few things we purchased from a German market.

The main lunch box contained:
• 2 Slices of Liverwurst
• 2 Slices of Hard Salami
• Pitted Prunes

The secondary box contained:
Celery Sticks
Brie wedge (with lettuce for support)

Not pictured:
• 2 oz container of Peanut Butter 
• thermos of home-made Iced Chai Tea

Thursday, August 14, 2008

German Bento Box

Both my mother and my boyfriend LOVE German food with a fiery passion (much like that of the German people). For my first bento attempt, I decided to take this love and bento it all up. I am also entering the image of Jim's bento into a bento photo contest. What fun!

Due to the fact that I just bought a nice new white bento for my mother, I didn't want the red pickled cabbage to totally stain the inside of the box, so I wrapped the inside of that compartment with saran wrap. It worked perfectly, left no stain, and clean up was really easy for her when she was done. Here is what the saran wrapped compartment looked like:

Below is what the Jim's bento looked like (and my entry for the contest).

The main lunch box contained:
1 Weisswurst (with parsley) sausage &
1 Bratwurst sausage nestled in a bed of
Hot German potato salad (recipe can be found at Tasty Planner)

The secondary box contained:
Pickled red cabbage next to
Pickled beets
Cucumber salad is kept away from the beets with a devider
Spicy mustard for the sausage is found in the little sauce container

I also slid a German inspired dessert under the main boxes lid:
• 2 squares of Belgian milk chocolate
• 1 slice of Schlunder Cappuccino Liqueur Cake
• 1 Mandelgeback mit Cremefullung (an almond cookie with cream filling)

Most of the German fare (including the sausage) was purchased at my local German market called Muller's. It includes a large inventory of imported German products, including deli meats, sausages, breads, canned goods, Spaetzle, etc. Some baked goods are provided by another chef.

It's not the most beautiful box, but it is very German in spirit. Sausage tossed on a bed of potatoes with a bacon dressing; pickled vegetables and spicy mustard; and what German lunch would be complete without a few sweets! By they way, here is my mother's bento box. It is very simple, but it included all she wanted.