The Bunnie Cakes Bento Box Demonstration was sponsored by Downtown Doral.
This year is my first experience as a mom of two preschoolers. For me, this isn’t back to school season, it is “Welcome to school and all the new routines, responsibilities, tasks and adjustments for the entire family” kind of season. It’s been fun, exciting and challenging at the same time.
In less than 1 week I ran out of food and snack ideas for my little ones. I didn’t have the time to put together their lunchboxes the way I wanted to: pretty, organized, properly labeled, and most importantly, nutritious. Time shrunk with school drop off and pick ups, and I found myself stressed out every day and worried about my kids’ nutrition.
However, I have great news! I recently attended a Bento Box Demonstration hosted by Bunnie Cakes, Downtown Doral and Miami Moms Blog. I learned tips and tricks to master the art of putting together the best lunchboxes for our children. Now I’m ready to share them all with you!
The Genius Mom Behind These Lunchbox Tips
Mariana Cortez, mom of 5 and creator of the vegan bakery Bunnie Cakes, shared her secrets to organizing and prepping her children’s gluten free, dairy free lunchboxes. From developing weekly menus, to putting it all in a calendar and buying the right ingredients and containers, Mariana gave me what I needed to hear and learn. Check out these wonderful tips and tricks to plan and assemble the best, healthiest lunchboxes for your kids.
Tip 1: Make it Simple and Make a Plan
Always choose something that’s easy to prepare and easy to eat. Forget complicated foods that take forever to put together. With this in mind, write down 10 simple lunch ideas, put them in a calendar, and rotate them every week.
Make your life easier by using a bento box if it’s a cold lunch, or a thermal container if it’s a hot meal. Consider getting fun reusable pouches instead of disposable ziplock bags. You can find them on Amazon or TJ Maxx for a really good price.
Tip 2: Include Colors and Fun Things
Remember that like us, our children get excited with what they see. If they open a messy lunch box that is not colorful at all, they will probably prefer to eat what everyone else is eating. Add colorful veggies and fruits to every meal and snack (excellent sources of fiber and vitamins!). Decorate the food with pins or sticks and use cookie cutters to make star, heart or any other fun shaped-sandwiches, arepas or anything else!
Tip 3: Add Something Your Children Will Love
A favorite snack will always be a great idea, but make it even more special by adding an affirmation note or a small surprise. It can be a chocolate or a small toy. It will show them that mom thought of making them smile when they open their lunch box. Affirmation notes can be super simple. Encouraging messages or even just an “I love you” will make a difference in your child’s day. You can use post-its, improvise, download Miami Moms Blog lunch box notes, or buy a pack of cute note cards. What’s important here is to add a personal touch to this important moment of the day.
Tip 4: Plan, Plan, Plan
It’s crazy how time goes by even faster when you incorporate meal prep into your evening or morning routine. Mariana’s tips on this aspect are particularly valuable when you think that she needs to prepare 5 lunchboxes every single day. 5! I only have 2 to prepare and I almost lost my mind the first week. The key is to plan ahead!
Get a calendar and write down your weekly menu. Over the weekend, spend 30 minutes planning your week’s meals and a couple of hours getting your groceries. If you have Amazon Prime you might want to take advantage of the free delivery service and Amazon’s partnership with Whole Foods to get everything you need delivered to your door!
Start prepping the recipes that require “make ahead” components such as sauces and vegetable cutting. These things you can freeze or store in the fridge for a couple of days.
And most importantly: assemble your lunch boxes the night before. Don’t do it in the morning because you are going to be late and stressed out, trust me on this one!
Sample Menu and Snack Ideas
I loved Mariana’s snack ideas and sample recipes to create a weekly menu that’s nutritious, gluten free and dairy free.
Snack ideas include gluten free pretzels, gluten free/peanut free granola, fresh fruit, Hippeas, popcorn, fresh carrots/celery + hummus, gluten free crackers, homemade applesauce, gluten free brownies.
A typical weekly menu for Mariana’s children includes these fabulous meals:
- Monday: Chickpea Salad Sandwich
- Tuesday: Black Bean Tacos (for Taco Tuesday of course!)
- Wednesday: Pasta Salad
- Thursday: Veggie Nuggets
- Friday: Turkey Wrap
Here’s a sneak peek at one of the recipes that Mariana shared with us at the Downtown Doral event.
Thank you again to Downtown Doral for hosting this amazing event. Pipa and Belu were on hand to entertain the little ones with their adorable Art Cart! Check out all the fun we had!
We enjoyed sampling Mariana’s recipes and even got to try the delicious Bunnie Cakes gluten free brownies. Try them for yourself at the Bunnie Cakes Wynwood location or the newest location opening soon in Downtown Doral!
Let us know how your lunch box prep is going.
Share your tips so we can learn from each other and make our day to day routines easier and enjoyable — all while racing our precious little ones to school every day and keeping them well fed. 🙂