First Day of Year 2 Lunch

I’ve just realised that we are into the third week of term and I forgot to share Small Child’s first day of term lunch! Not that it was hugely exciting or anything, but he was pleased with it! At his request, I packed it in our new TUMTUM Bugs lunch box, and used the matching water bottle and ladybird lunch bag too (which I reviewed in yesterday’s post).

In this lunch Small Child had quesadillas, cut into circles and decorated with alphabet picks spelling out ‘YEAR’ and the number 2, (representing his new school year), which I cut out from the tortilla using a cookie cutter before cooking. The quesadilla was made from a tortilla wrap, spread with tomato puree and stuffed with grated cheddar cheese and pieces of ham to make a ‘pizza quesadilla’.  On the side he had raw carrot and yellow pepper sticks, a clementine, broken into segments, a small apple and a treat of some Organix alphabet biscuits.  I separated the vegetables from the fruit with a grass shaped silicone divider, and decorated the fruit with a blue crayon pick and a ladybird pick, to match the lunch box.  While I was making this lunch Small Child was telling me how he’d once had an apple with the leaf still attached (which he was very excited about!) so I added a leaf pick to his apple too.

Eats Amazing UK - Special Bento lunch idea for the first day of the school term in our TUMTUM Bugs Lunch Box

Small Child loved the leaf in the apple, it’s always the little things! Here he is before setting off for school, my big Year 2 boy! As you can see, his new ladybird lunch bag is just the cutest thing ever, almost as cute as him!

DSC_0014 (428x600)

How time flies, it seems just yesterday that he went off to school for the first time! Here’s his first day post from two years ago, I’m pleased to see that both my lunch making and my photography skills have improved since then! I can’t believe how small he was either, awwww!


Items used to make this lunch:

  Silicone Baran Dividers Grass Thumbnail Crayon Cupcake Picks Thumbnail Ladybird and Bee Picks Thumbnail Leaf Picks Thumbnail

Disclaimer: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links; I may receive commission on items purchased through the links.

TUMTUM BUGS Lunch Bag and Lunch Box – Review

Ever since I bought my first TUMTUM lunch box at the beginning of the year, I have been a big fan of the company.  I was really impressed with both the quality and design of their original Trainee Lunch Set, so went looking to see what else they have designed.  I loved the look of their great range of brightly coloured feeding products for children (all designed here in the UK), and was very excited when they launched their new BUGS range earlier this year.  The range covers all you might need for packing the cutest packed lunch ever, and my absolute favourite product from it has got to be the Ladybird Lunchbag.  Thanks to the generosity of TUMTUM, I have been given the chance to review the whole range, and I’m starting today with a review of the BUGS Lunch Set and the aforementioned matching Ladybird Lunchbag.

When our box full of gorgeous TUMTUM products arrived, Small Child was beside himself with excitement!  He was pulling everything out and saying “Is this for me Mummy, is this for me?” and when the ladybird lunchbag was finally revealed he firmly said “This is mine!”.  I had to bite my tongue and agree, that yes, it was indeed for him – whilst reminding myself that I am in fact 32, and not still a six year old! It is quite simply the cutest lunch bag I’ve ever seen, and I would have cut off my right arm to have one just like it when I was a child!

The lunchbag is beautifully made, it feels really sturdy and has been finished to a high standard.  The design is on both sides of the bag, with cute little feet that bend out to ‘sit’ when you put the lunchbag down. One side zips down to form a handy placemat (particularly good for picnics!) and the bag is fully insulated.

Eats Amazing UK - Review of the TUMTUM BUGS Range - Ladybird Lunchbag

Inside, there is a handy net pocket at the back which comfortably holds a couple of mini gel ice packs (I use these ones by Polar Gear), and I was pleased to find that the bag has space to hold a lot more than I initially thought from looking at the outside. I tried it out with the lunch box, water bottle and cutlery set (there was room to spare) and also the nesting box set plus water bottle (it felt a bit like playing tetris, but it fit easily enough!).

Eats Amazing UK - Review of the TUMTUM BUGS Range - inside the Ladybird Lunchbag

The BUGS lunch box, which as you can see above fits perfectly in the Ladybird Lunchbag, is the same shape and size as the original trainee lunch set.  It has a removable container in the middle which acts as both a divider and a handy container for a dip or tiny snack.  The bright and colourful bugs design on the front makes it a really attractive box, and the red of the main part of the box made it a big hit with Small Child, as it’s his favourite colour! Like all TUMTUM products, the lunch box is BPA free, and it is dishwasher safe too.  This lunch box is the perfect size for bento-style lunches, and although its shape doesn’t make it ideal for standard sized sandwiches, with a bit of creativity (and a large circle shaped cookie cutter!) you can easily find a way to fit some in.  It would be a particularly good box for foods like pasta or rice salads, the shape and clever divider means that you would have plenty of space to pack a side dish as well as a decent sized main portion.

Eats Amazing UK - Review of the TUMTUM BUGS Range - Lunch Set Lunch Box

Of course no lunch box review would be complete without a lunch packed in it! I decided to attempt a ladybird themed lunch to match the set, and had great fun creating it! I started with a ladybird sandwich, which I made by cutting a ham sandwich into a circle using the a big round cookie cutter.  I used the same cutter to cut out an extra piece of ham to put on the top, then use a mini circle cutter to make the dots, and a sharp knife to cut a triangular shape from the middle, thus turning it into a ladybird. I finished it off with antennae made from a couple of pink polka dot picks.  On the side he had a Babybel, which I cut in half and decorated with ladybird picks, some raw sugar snap peas, carrots, cut into flowers using a mini bento cutter and decorated with leaf picks, raisins, and an apple, which I turned into a ladybird with the aid of a sharp knife and mini circle cutter to make the dots.  The ladybird’s head was made from a red grape, with slivers of apple skin for antennae.

Eats Amazing UK - Ladybird themed bento lunch in the TUMTUM BUGS lunch set with ladybird sandwich and ladybird carved apple

Small Child loved having a ladybird lunch in his ladybird lunch box! We have made several lunches in it since, and I am sure that it will continue to be in regular use over the next school year.  He has been using the lunch bag every day – I was really pleased to find that it easily fits most lunch boxes including our beloved Yumbox!

The TUMTUM BUGS Lunchbag and Lunch box set is available in various shops and online including directly from the TUMTUM website or from Amazon UK.  You can click on the pictures below to be taken to the Amazon listings.


I look forward to packing many more lunches using these gorgeous TUMTUM products!


Disclaimer; I received a free TUMTUM Lunchbag and Lunch box set for the purposes of carrying out this review, however all opinions expressed in this post are my own.  I have no affiliation to TUMTUM, and was not otherwise compensated for this review.  

Dotty Lunch for International Dot Day

Did you know, today is International Dot Day? I must admit I’d never heard of it until a blogging friend mentioned it yesterday, but I looked it up and found it to be a “celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration” based on ‘The Dot‘ a lovely looking story about a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”.  It struck me as a great theme for a lunch, so, never one to miss a themed lunch opportunity, today I made a dotty lunch for Small Child! I didn’t have any time to plan ahead, so I went with what food I had to hand and made it as dotty as possible.

In his dotty lunch Small Child had pitta pockets, filled with tuna mixed with a little light mayonnaise and cucumber slices.  I decorated the pitta bread halves by drawing on lots of dots using red and black edible marker pens.  On the side he had half a plum, decorated with polka dot picks, a carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds, organic strawberry yoghurt, topped with polka-dot sprinkles and some dried pineapple and papaya chunks, to which I added an eye pick. I finished the lunch off with a treat of a few yoghurt covered raisins, which I popped into a mini dotty container.

Eats Amazing UK - Dotty Themed Lunch for International Dot DayI hope Small Child will enjoy his dotty lunch.  I’m off to buy ‘The Dot‘ – the book by Peter H. Reynolds that inspired the original Dot Day, it looks like a really lovely book!


Items used to make this lunch:

 Spots and Stripes Bright Sauce Containers Thumbnail  Polka Dot Picks  Thumbnail  Eye Picks Thumbnail
Disclaimer: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links; I may receive commission on items purchased through the links.

Roald Dahl Day Lunches 2014

Good afternoon, today I have two blog posts for you! Fun Food Friday, which I posted earlier today, and now an extra special post for Roald Dahl Day, which is tomorrow, the 13th September.  In celebration of this fantastic author, some of the Bento Bloggers and Friends and I have come together to bring you a blog hop!  Be sure to read right to the end of this post where you’ll find a button to take you through to the next blog in the hop.

I made two Roald Dahl themed lunches this week.  The first was based on The Twits, and was a huge hit with Small Child and his friends too, who told me all about it when they came out of school! I decided to make a second for him, which was based on The Magic Finger.  When each lunch was finished I asked him to guess the book, and he got it straight away both times so I’ll call that a success!


In his first lunch, Small Child had a quesadilla, filled with grated cheddar cheese, ham and chopped yellow pepper.  I drew a tree onto the quesadilla with edible marker pen (copied from the book) and topped it with monkey picks (from this set and this set).  Small Child told me that I’d got the story slightly wrong, and that the monkeys should have been in a cage (I haven’t read the book for years!) so I drew the monkey cage on the other half of the quesadilla (you can’t see it as it’s underneath).  On the side he had carrot disks and sugar snap peas, which I topped with bird flags and bird picks.  I turned a clementine into Mr Twit with the aid of a Sharpie (the skin gets discarded, not eaten, I hasten to add!) and filled the little section with raisins, which I decorated with tiny bird footprints cut from carrot.

Eats Amazing UK - The Twits Book Themed Bento Lunch for Roald Dahl Day 2014

The second lunch was the one based on The Magic Finger.  To make this I cut a tortilla wrap into hand shapes using a cutter, then baked them to make tortilla crisps.  I coloured the tip of one finger with a red edible marker pen, and added a mini Babybel cheese with a ‘flash of light’ cut from the wax using a mini bento cutter.  I rolled roast chicken slices and skewered them on duck picks to represent the duck family.  On the side he had carrot sticks and cucumber sticks, topped with a rough gun I carved from carrot.  I also included a small container of houmous to dip the veggies in.  I finished the lunch off with another clementine which I again decorated with an image from the book – the girl’s teacher who gets turned into a cat.

Eats Amazing UK - The Magic Finger Book Themed Bento Lunch for Roald Dahl Day 2014

I hope Small Child enjoyed this lunch as much as yesterday’s The Twits Lunch!  Now, as I mentioned above, this post is part of a blog hop! If you click on the button below, you’ll be taken to the next blog in the hop where you can see what Roald Dahl inspired food Jean from Bento Days has made!


Disclaimer: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links; I may receive commission on items purchased through the links.

CuteZcute Quesadillas & Fun Food Friday #35

Good morning, and welcome back to the first Fun Food Friday of this school year! I hope you all had a fantastic summer!  As always, Fun Food Friday is for any food posts at all, whether it be toddler meals, creative cakes, or a yummy recipe you’ve blogged, do link up to today’s linky below and help share the inspiration around!  I try to comment on and tweet every post that’s linked up, and I pin them all to my special Fun Food Friday Pinterest board too.

Today’s fun food from me is a light lunch that I made during the holidays for my boys.  I wanted to try shaped quesadillas after seeing them a while back on the Gingerbread Mum’s blog, and I think they turned out really well.  Small Child really loves cats so the kitties were a big hit!

For Small Child’s lunch, I made 2 kitty quesadillas, cutting the faces out using the CuteZcute Animal Friends Kit and the bodies with the new CuteZCute Cuddle Palz Kit.  I cut the faces from a tortilla wrap (the back pieces were left plain) then assembled them straight into a dry frying pan as follows: back piece, grated cheddar cheese, German sausage slices and front piece.  I cooked them gently until the cheese was melted, carefully turning them over half way through. I popped them on a plate and added some scenery, in the form of raisins, cucumber sticks and flowers cut from carrot using a mini bento cutter, plus some butterflies cut from German sausage slices. I gave one kitty a carrot flower and the other a cherry tomato balloon, for which I used this special pick set.

Eats Amazing - Fun Quesadillas made using the CuteZcute cutter sets

I also made a similar (and simpler) version for Small Baby, with just one quesadilla and no food picks.

Eats Amazing - Silent Sunday 140824Both boys enjoyed their special lunches, Small Baby squeaked with delight when he saw his plate, with a ‘Deddy, Deddy’ thrown in too (his way of saying teddy!).  He even tried some of the carrot, which he normally rejects.

Now it’s your turn, what fun food have you been making recently? Please link up your foodie posts below and share the inspiration around. You can also link up Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pictures if you don’t have a blog of your own.

A few quick reminders before you link up; please visit some of the other blogs that have linked up and leave them a comment – we all love comments! If you are linking up from your blog, please grab the button below too, and put it either in your blog post or somewhere on your blog. Both old and new posts are very welcome, and do feel free to link up several posts if you’d like.

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

Thank you in advance for linking up, I hope you find some fun inspiration!

Alphabet Lunch – Letter S

Today I have another alphabet lunch to share with you, this time based on the letter S. Small Child loved this lunch because S is his first initial, and also because he got to use his new Strawberry bento box.  He got very involved in the making of this lunch, even directing the photo shoot, insisting that I add his toy Snake to the photo!

Eats Amazing UK - Alphabet Themed Food and Bento School Lunch Ideas for Children

In this lunch Small Child had Sandwich Spirals on Star Skewers, which were made from cream cheese on Seeded bread, Sausages, decorated with a Saw cupcake pick and with a mini container of tomato Sauce to dip them in (I also thought the container looked like a little sunshine!), Sugar Snap peas, and baby Sweet corn, decorated with a Sheep cupcake ring. In the Second layer of his Strawberry bento box he had a Squirrel Shaped Silicone cup full of raisins, with a couple of S Organix alphabet biscuits, clementine Segments and Strawberries, which I decorated with an S alphabet pick, Seal pick and Ship pick.

Eats Amazing - Alphabet Themed Kids Bento Lunches - S is for Strawberry Star Snake Sandwich Swirl Sausage Saw Sweetcorn Sugar Snap Peas Seal Ship Squirrel Satsuma

Here’s the outside of the Strawberry box, complete with toy Snake Supplied by Small Child! It is in two tiers, and comes with a matching pink Strap to hold it closed.

Eats Amazing - Alphabet Themed Kids Bento Lunches - S is for Strawberry Bento Box with Snake

This lunch was definitely a hit with Small Child, even though the Snake had to Stay at home!


Items used to make this lunch:

Bento Box 2 Tier Strawberry Dark Pink Thumbnail Long Plastic Skewers - Stars Thumbnail Lamb and Chick Cupcake Rings Thumbnail Handy Man Tool Cupcake Picks Thumbnail Sheep and Squirrel Silicone Cups Thumbnail Ocean Friends Food Picks Thumbnail Transport  Picks  Thumbnail

Alphabet Lunch – Letter R

Small Child went back to school in the middle of last week and I feel like I’m only just now getting back into the swing of things. I’m feeling very sad about the end of summer, so am trying to concentrate on all the lovely things coming up this term – Halloween, Bonfire Night, and even *whispers* Christmas! Yes, I went there, sorry!  I promise not to go all Christmassy on you yet though, despite seeing Christmas stuff in the shops in August!  I’m working on several reviews of some lovely lunch-packing products which will be coming up on the blog in the next few weeks, and I have photos of the lunches I’ve already made so far this term sitting on the camera waiting to be uploaded, so in the meantime I thought it was about time I got back to sharing the rest of my alphabet lunches.  The last alphabet lunch I shared was based on the letter Q, so today’s lunch is based on the letter R.

Eats Amazing UK - Alphabet Themed Food and Bento School Lunch Ideas for Children

In this lunch, which was packed in our Laptop Lunches Bento Box, Small Child had a Rainbow Rice salad (Rice, Red pepper, yellow pepper, cucumber and Raisins), decorated with a Rooster and a Red crayon pick, Rolls of Roast Beef, decorated with Rocket picks and a Robot Cupcake Ring and a Red Babybel cheese, decorated with a letter R cut into the wax, made Royal with the addition of a crown pick, and popped into a Red silicone cup. For ‘pudding’ he had a Rainbow of fruit (Raspberries, Red and green grapes and clementine segments) plus a little Rainbow container filled with Rainbow yoghurt coloured Raisins.  I decorated the fruit with a Rabbit pick and some R alphabet picks and added a Rooster fork for the Rice.

Eats Amazing - Alphabet Themed Kids Bento Lunches - R is for Rainbow Rice Red Pepper Raisins Red Grapes Raspberries Royal Robot Roast Beef Rocket Rooster Red

Small Child ate all of this lunch, so I’m guessing he enjoyed it!  Can you think of any R foods or obvious R words that I missed?


Items used to make this lunch:

Farm Animal Cupcake Picks Thumbnail Crayon Cupcake Picks Thumbnail Transport  Picks  Thumbnail Robot Cupcake Rings Thumbnail Princess Picks Thumbnail Square White Sauce Containers Thumbnail Bunny Picks Thumbnail Spoon and Fork Set Thumbnail

Disclaimer: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links; I may receive commission on items purchased through the links.

Clearing out my Freezer for Zero Waste Week

Earlier this week I wrote about Zero Waste Week, encouraged you to do ‘One More Thing’ to reduce waste in your own lives and also made  pledge of my own for it. This was my pledge:

“To sort through my freezer, actually eat all the leftovers that are stored in there, and find new ways to use up spare food lying around in the fridge”

Zero Waste Week 2014 - I cleared out my freezer to help cut my food waste - what will you do

I’m still working on a post to cover the second half of my pledge, so today I’m going to share how I did with the first half – the dreaded freezer sort-out! Now I don’t know about you, but the state of my freezer goes in cycles.  It starts off tidy enough, but then as time goes on it gets more and more crowded with all sorts of random odds and ends until trying to retrieve something from it becomes something of a fight, with frozen bits and pieces falling on my head and the thing I’m trying to find invariably hiding right at the back under everything else.  To make matters worse, the freezer then starts to get more and more frosted up which only makes it harder to get things in and out of it! I then have a big sort out, throw a load of stuff away and the cycle starts again.  This time though, I was determined to sort it out properly, and to throw nothing away – no waste – everything needed to be used!

All week I had my pledge in the back of my mind so I tried to keep the food shopping to a minimum and kept rummaging around in the freezer to find things to use up in our meals.  I managed to use a batch of frozen home-made chilli con carne, a packet of frozen sausages (in this gorgeous pasta recipe, which also allowed me to use up several other store-cupboard ingredients), a bag of frozen prawns (which I added to a quick stir-fry) and some frozen spinach in this one-pot spicy rice recipe, but that didn’t really make much of a dent in my freezer stash.

I then decided that the situation called for a plan, so here is how I did it! First of all, I dug out a couple of cool bags to hold the frozen food whilst I cleaned and defrosted the freezer.  I then pulled out a notebook and sorted through the food, writing a list of everything there as I went.  I tried to put everything back in some sort of order – meat, vegetables, bread products etc in separate draws. Just in case you’re feeling nosy, here’s what I found in my freezer:

1 pack sausages
500g beef mince
400g lamb mince
400g stewing steak
1 rump steak
460g chicken breast
260g cod fillet

1/2 bag mixed veg
1 bag peas
3/4 bag spinach
2 bags mixed fruit
1/4 bag mixed berries
1 frozen banana
1 bag blackberries
1 bags blocks of fruit puree (left over from making ice lollies)

Bread Products:
4 bagels
2 English muffins
1 wrap
2 hot cross buns (left over from Easter, whoops!)
1 bag bread crusts

Leftovers/Homemade Meals:
1 tub vegetable chilli
1 tub vegetable curry
small pot tomato sauce
bag of lamb kebab meat
small bag of meatballs
3 baby-sized portions of chilli con carne

Other odds and ends:
2 pints milk
2 boxes frubes (yoghurt tubes)
2 yorkshire puddings

Once everything was put neatly back in the freezer I found that I already had a lot more space in there, but I had pledged to use it all up so it was time to start planning what to do with it.

I started by making a freezer lunch for the boys and for myself.  I defrosted the tomato sauce and 2 of the bagels and made bagel pizzas.  Once they were assembled I had a little of the sauce leftover so I used one of the English muffins too.  To make the pizzas, I split the bagels and muffin, spread with the tomato sauce and topped with grated cheddar cheese.  I also sprinkled over a couple of chopped spring onions from the fridge that needed using up.  I then grilled the pizzas until the cheese was melted and bubbling.  These pizzas are a great way to use up leftover bread products – if you don’t have any tomato sauce to hand then a dollop of tomato puree works just as well.  Cooled down, they are perfect for lunchboxes too and make a lovely change from sandwiches.

Eats Amazing UK - Turn bagels into pizza with your choice of toppings - so quick and easy to make

I served the pizzas up with a homemade smoothie, which helped to start using up some of the fruit – I used the frozen banana and the blocks of pureed fruit (strawberry and kiwi), added orange juice and a fresh banana and whizzed it all up in a blender.  The smoothie was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us – even Small Baby had a bit (which he consumed with much smacking of lips and mmmming!).

Eats Amazing UK - Bagel Pizzas and Homemade Smoothie

I heated up the hot cross buns in the oven and we had them after our evening meal, so that was one more thing saved from the bin! There is still a lot of food in the freezer though, so I’ve planned out as many meals as possible based on what I found in there, hopefully saving a fair bit of money in the process. Here are some of the meals I have planned for the next few weeks:

  • Tortilla Lasagne – to use up the beef mince and bread crusts (which I’ll whizz up to make the bread crumb topping)
  • Lamb Kebabs with pitta breads and salad – to use up the lamb kebab mixture (originally made from this recipe)
  • Slow Cooker Beef Stew – to use up the stewing steak
  • Jacket Potatoes with leftover Vegetable Chilli & Salad
  • Jacket Potatoes with leftover Vegetable Curry (neither the curry and chilli are large portions, but enough for a jacket potato topper for all of us)
  • Lamb, Spinach & Potato Curry – to use up the lamb mince
  • Chicken Pilaf – to use up the chicken, some of the frozen veg and some of the frozen spinach
  • Brocolli, Pea and Mint Soup with crusty bread – to use up some of the frozen peas
  • Balsamic Roasted Sausages with Veg – to use up the sausages

That will keep us going for a while at least! I’ll also use up what remains of the various bread products and the frubes in Small Child’s lunches, make lots more smoothies, cancel the milkman one day next week and defrost the milk to use instead, and feed the meatballs and chilli to Small Baby as and when he needs quick meals. The steak and Yorkshire puddings will no doubt be demolished by Mr Amazing next time we are away, which just leaves the cod fillet! I’m sure I’ll come up with something for that by the time I get to it, but feel free to chip in with your ideas!
Click here for National Zero Waste week 2013

Even though this is the end of Zero Waste Week I’ll be back again in a day or two with a leftovers ideas post, after all, there’s no reason not to try to reduce waste the whole year through! Did you make a pledge for Zero Waste Week? If so, how did it go?


Creative Lunches Using Leftovers

Continuing on with this weeks Zero Waste theme, today I’m sharing a whole pile of lunches that included leftovers in one form or other.  I love using leftovers in my lunches, not only do they help avoid any waste, but they also make packing lunches quicker and easier than ever in the morning.  Because you can pack almost any food in a bento box, there’s no limit to the leftovers you can use up – from shredded roast meats and a couple of stray boiled potatoes to a spoonful of rice or a full portion of pasta bake, you never have to waste any food!

Eats Amazing UK - 14 Creative kids packed lunch ideas to use up your leftovers

I used leftover giant couscous in this pretty ocean themed lunch.  Click here to see full details.

Eats Amazing - Sea creature lunch using up leftovers

I used a star shaped cutter to make some leftover pizza extra fun in this star themed lunch.  Click here for full details.

Eats Amazing - Star themed lunch with leftover pizza slices cut into stars

This lunch took just minutes to prepare – with spaghetti and meatballs from dinner the night before.  For full details of this lunch click here.

Eats Amazing UK - Lovely leftovers in the yumbox bento box for lunchFrom party food to lunchbox food, the wraps and vegetable crisps in this lunch were leftovers from a family party, making lunch preparation the next day super fast! For full details click here.

Eats Amazing - Left over party food lunchThis fun flower power lunch included shredded roast chicken and slices of beetroot leftover from a meal the day before.  Click here to see full details of this lunch.

Eats Amazing - Flower Power Lunch in the Yumbox Bento Box

I used a couple of silicone cups and some leftover rice to make this rocket themed lunch.  For full details click here.

Eats Amazing - rocket themed lunch with leftover riceLeftover boiled potatoes went beautifully in this sheep themed lunch.  Click here for full details of this lunch

Eats Amazing - Sheep themed lunch with cuteZcute animal palz

I used leftover pasta in this fun pink themed lunch.  To see full details click here.

Eats Amazing - Pink lunch to celebrate Wear It Pink Day 2013A handful of eye picks made these leftover sausages and leftover pasta shapes really fun!  For full details of this lunch click here.

Eats Amazing - Leftovers with eyes for lunchA new way to enjoy leftover pizza – make a pizza salad! Click here for full details of this lunch!

Eats Amazing - 'Pizza Salad' Lunch

This circus themed lunch made good use of leftover roast potatoes and slices of leftover roast beef. For full details of this lunch click here.

Eats Amazing - Circus themed leftovers lunch in YumboxI packed leftover homemade samosas with mango chutney and leftover mini poppadums for a tasty change from sandwiches.  Click here for details.

Eats Amazing - Homemade Samosa Lunch with Mango Chutney

I used leftover homemade pizza dough to make the pizza whirls for this lunch.  To see full details click here.

Eats Amazing - Pizza Whirl Rolls for Lunch with fun hat and eye picks

This boat lunch using leftover jacket potatoes was fun to make! Click here for details of this lunch.

Eats Amazing - Jacket Potato boats for lunch, with fish stamped into the banana skin

If you’d like even more leftover lunch ideas click here.

Do you pack leftovers for lunch? I hope this post may inspire you to look at your leftovers with new eyes!


How to Make a Waste-Free Creative Bento

As I wrote in my previous blog post, it’s currently Zero Waste Week, for which I am an ambassador, so this week I am sharing ways to cut waste, especially when packing lunches.  In my last blog post, I talked about the various packaging that you can save from landfill by using bento boxes to pack your lunch, and today I’m going to talk about avoiding food waste, in particular the potential food waste generated by getting creative with your food.  I took the photos for this post about a year ago, and have been meaning to write it up ever since, so it’s well overdue!

I’ve been making and blogging about bento lunches for two years now, and one of the questions that crops up time and time again when people see my lunches is ‘what do you do with the scraps?’.  Sometimes people are less polite, leaving comments such as ‘what a waste of food’ on my pictures.  What those people don’t realise though, is that I very rarely generate any waste when I’m making bento lunches for my children, even when they’re fun and creative.  One of the main reasons I took up making lunches in bento boxes was to avoid waste, so of course I’m not going to use them as an excuse to throw away food!  If, as I do, you like to get creative with the food you pack, cutting it into fun shapes and arranging it to look pretty as well as functional, you will inevitably create some scraps that you might not want to pack, so today I’m going to share my tips and tricks for avoiding food waste when creating fun bento lunches or food art.

Eats Amazing UK - Tips and Tricks for Waste Free Bento Lunches - Use up your leftover food scraps

The most common question I get asked is about the scraps of bread leftover from making fun sandwiches. There are a few options for these.  Sometimes I eat them, or Small Child snaffles them as I go! Sometimes I cut them up into bite size pieces for Small Baby to have for his lunch, but if for some reason those aren’t an option, I have other ways of using up the crusts too.  If I’m going to cut the sandwiches into fun shapes but want to save the leftover bread and crusts for other uses, I construct the sandwich in a slightly different way.  Rather than making up the sandwich and then cutting it into shapes, I cut the shapes out first from the plain, unbuttered bread, and put the sandwich together after, adding fillings to the ready shaped bread.  This leaves plain bread scraps that can be used in several ways.  Sometimes I use them that day, but otherwise I freeze them (I always have a bag on the go in the freezer that I can throw them into) until needed.  You may be wondering what you can do with a bag of frozen bread scraps, well, from there I have some great options:

  1. Whizz them up to make breadcrumbs, which can be used in several recipes (they make a great topping for a pasta bake for example, or a handy filler in home-made burgers).
  2. Brush them with a little oil, cut them into cubes and bake or toast them to make croutons to sprinkle over salads or soups.
  3. Save them up to make a batch of French Toast Casserole.  Several of my blogging friends have shared their take on this dish, try Nina’s French Toast Casserole, Sarah’s Bread Scrap French Toast Casserole (with fresh berry compote), Rachel’s Bento Scrap French Toast Muffins, Kendra’s (gluten and dairy free) PBJ Bread Pudding, or these simple French Toast Sticks from Momables.  I feel hungry now!

Eats Amazing UK - Tips and Tricks for using for avoiding lunchbox waste - 3 ways to use up bread crusts and scraps    Eats Amazing UK - Tips and Tricks for using for avoiding lunch box waste

Other foods which have the potential to generate waste scraps are vegetables like carrot or beetroot.  Carrot is such a great food for creative bento lunches because it is sturdy enough to be cut into almost any shape, but of course any shaping comes with a pile of scraps.  The first thing I do before using carrot is to give the whole carrot a really good srcub.  This way, it doesn’t need to be peeled so the only waste is the top (You don’t even have to waste the top either, check out this really fun activity from Laughing Kids Learn!).  After that I cut my shapes, then grate the scraps and pop them in a container to be used in a salad later.  If I’m in a rush, I’ll just pop the scraps in the container as they are and then grate them when I’m ready to use them.  Beetroot I will usually peel (and compost the peel), but I treat the edible beetroot scraps in the same way as carrots – grating them into salads, yum!

Following on from carrot and beetroot are peppers and cucumber.  I use peppers a lot in my bento lunches because they are healthy, tasty and come in a range of colours making them really great for adding creative touches. Cucumbers are always popular too, and definitely my favourite salad vegetable! To avoid wasting leftover pieces of either peppers or cucumber, simply chop them into small pieces to add to salads, such as leafy, rice, couscous or pasta salads.  I have also been known to throw larger pieces of leftover pepper or carrot from bento making into family meals such as curries or pasta bakes, so my family are well used to strangely shaped vegetables appearing in their meals!

Eats Amazing UK - Tips and Tricks for using for avoiding bento lunchbox waste    Eats Amazing UK - Tips and Tricks for reducing food waste in bento lunch boxes

I do the same with cheese (we primarily use cheddar) – I collect the pieces in a container in the fridge and then grate them as and when I need it.  I use grated cheese in cooking, but also add to salads and sprinkle over pasta.  Small Baby quite likes a pile of grated cheddar to get stuck into too, cheese is possibly his favourite food (after yoghurt!)

Here are some other ideas for using up bento scraps:

  • Eat them as you are going along, or feed them to a passing hungry family member!
  • Include them in the lunch – just hide them at the bottom under the pretty bits!
  • Throw vegetable scraps into a container in the fridge (they should be fine for a few days) and add to home-made soup or stock.
  • Add them to an omelette, or to little individual omelettes made in a muffin pan or cupcake cases.  Either adapt this recipe of mine slightly by changing the fillings and bake them in the oven, or follow this great recipe from Cristi of Bent On Better Lunches to make them in the microwave.
  • Make a ‘compost lunch’ following this great recipe from Karen of What’s In Our Lunch Bags.
  • Throw them into a quesadilla – lay a tortilla wrap in a dry frying pan, cover half with grated cheese, sprinkle over your bits and pieces (scraps of meats such as ham or chicken work well too!), then fold over and heat until the cheese has melted and the wrap is lightly toasted.  Flip over half way through to heat right through.

Eats Amazing UK - Super fast quesdailla recipe - great for using up odds and ends of food or scraps from making bento lunches

I hope I’ve managed to show that it’s easy to make zero-waste bento lunches, whether they are plain or extra creative!  Do you have any clever tips or tricks for using up scraps of food? Do share them in the comments below.  Don’t forget to check out the Zero Waste Week website too for some fantastic ideas for cutting waste, and maybe make a pledge of your own!

Click here for National Zero Waste week 2014