When I was shopping at Ichiban Kan in San Francisco the other week, I stumbled across a strange Pokemon lunch bag that I initially thought was an ordinary lunch cloth (like a cloth napkin or furoshiki wrapping cloth). When I got it home, however, I discovered that it was actually a weird cross between a wrapping cloth and a lunch bag.
The bottom and sides are sewn together so that you can just drop in a bento box and any other lunch gear, then simply knot the top to close it securely (similar to the Otsukai Tsutsumi illustrated in this cool wrapping chart). I’ve used furoshiki, cloth napkins, and dish towels to tie flimsy bento lunches together and throw into a backpack before, but I can see this being a fun way to ease a child into lunch wrapping without a lot of skill involved. I’d seen a similar Shinkansen-themed lunch bag on Amazon before, but it hadn’t really sunk in that this was how it was supposed to be used — now I get it! Ingenious. (Click on any of the photos for a larger view.)
Here I put Bug’s two-tier pasta lunch inside (shown below), along with a fork, cloth napkin, and damp oshibori hand towel and case. It looks cool, but he went on strike when I asked him to practice opening it, and requested his new Cars lunch bag instead (“I can use just two fingers to open that one!”). We’ll practice some more before I send him to preschool with it so I can be sure he can open it by himself, but it’s hard to compete with Cars!
Contents of Wednesday preschooler lunch: Radiator-shaped radiatore pasta with leftover slow-cooked salmon (salmon recipe here) mixed with tomato-based sauce and sauteed onions with bell peppers. The fruit tier holds gold kiwifruit, tangerine slice and a strawberry.
Morning prep time: 4 minutes, using leftover pasta. The night before, I packed the pasta tier when cleaning up from dinner. So in the morning I just cut the kiwi, cut another wedge off the rapidly shrinking tangerine from the fridge, and quickly microwaved the pasta to restore texture. Very simple lunch this day, nothing fancy.
Verdict: Thumbs up. Bug ate everything at preschool except the kiwi, which he ate in the car afterwards.
Contents of Thursday preschooler lunch: Half of a bagel sandwich with cream cheese, grapes, grape tomatoes, and a tiny Manzano banana (smaller and drier than a baby banana, with a slight apple flavor).
Morning prep time: 4 minutes
Packing: I started peeling the banana by cracking open the stem end to make it easier for Bug to peel himself. The interesting thing about this lunch is that I lined the child-sized Snoopy collapsible sandwich case with decorative aluminum foil to keep any cream cheese from escaping through the holes in the bottom or sides. Although I usually pack sandwiches directly in these kinds of ventilated sandwich cases without any kind of lining, my friend Mami (Japanese mother of one of Bug’s classmates) tells me that she always lines hers with colorful plastic wrap to keep things tidy and clean. Her theory is that Japanese-language bento cookbooks don’t often show photos of the plastic-wrap-lined boxes because it looks nicer without the wrap. What do you think?
Verdict: Bug ate the bagel sandwich and a couple of tomatoes at prechool, then ate the banana and remainder of the tomatoes in the car afterwards. For some reason the grapes were uninteresting to him, so I wound up eating those myself.
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