Welcome to day 4 of my Handmade Hanukkah series! Today, I'm going to share some lunch box ideas that are sure to bring smiles come lunchtime. Bento style lunches have gotten really popular recently and are especially fun for kids. I am constantly amazed by the skill and creativity people put into their little works of food art. I haven't seen many with a Hanukkah theme though, so I came up with some ideas of my own. My brother would tell me I need a job...
Let's talk hardware first. My daughter has a Planet Box lunchbox, which I really like for a number of reasons. It's easy for my little one to open, there is no packaging waste and it also reminds me to think in terms of the four food groups...most of the time. You could do this with anything you have though....one big tupperware or several smaller containers would all work...just use what you have.
Now on to the food! Here's my first attempt.... I will admit, it's a little heavy on the sweets and the protein and veggies are a little lacking, but hey, it's a holiday! The child will live. I had an extra Hanukkah donut from our Hanukkah feast the night before. These came from the Daily Dozen Donut Company in the Pike Place Market. They make them fresh while you watch...so good! I also used cheddar cheese which I cut into shapes using a small paring knife. I got a real kick out of the pretzle rod candle, btw...my favorite part. Homemade applesauce left-over from latkes the night before felt perfectly symbolic and the blackberries were there for color. In the bottom left compartment is some pear...again, sticking with my blue, white and yellow color scheme. The center is normally the treat spot, so even though there was already a donut, I used two yogurt covered raisins and two small candies...mostly because I liked how they looked...LOL. How much of this did my daughter eat? Everything except the pretzles, the raisins and the blackberries.
My second lunch is a bit more balanced. I made little candles with mozarella cheese sticks and carrot flames. There are 9 orange sections, which if you stretch your imagination, kind of look like the lights of a fully lit menorah. Blue corn chips were there for color, along with the white yogurt covered raisins again. Two pieces of gelt were the treat of the day. Ham is rolled and tucked into the last compartment...a lunch box favorite! In the center square, I made a Jewish star out of yellow bell pepper.
If you are curious about how to cut shapes in food, it is really quite simple. For the cheese, I sliced thick pieces with a wire cheese slicer, then free-hand cut shapes with my paring knife. Cookie cutters are also great for this if you have them. (Regarding the slicer, it came with my husband...not something I would have bought for myself, but for the purpose of cutting shapes in cheese, it's great. You can also use a big knife, but the slicer keeps the slice really even.) For the carrot flames, I cut thick rounds of carrot and then just cut in the points of the flames. For the bell pepper star, I picked a flat side of the pepper to work with and hand-cut the star like I did for the cheese. Honestly, it's not hard and it really doesn't take long. I usually end up eating the scraps that I cut away while I'm making lunch, so nothing goes to waste.
I have a few more lunch ideas up my sleeve that I will add to this post as I make them, but I wanted to get these up while there is still time for you to make some bentos of your own. I hope you are feeling inspired! Please feel free to share your own Hanukkah lunch box ideas...I'd love to see what you come up with so leave links in the comment section or post some photos to my Facebook page. Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you'll come back tomorow for an eco-crafty Hanukkah project. XOXO, Cindi