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Posted on Oct 10, 2007 in Bento, Equipment, For Kids, Lactose Free, Meat, Onigiri or Sushi | 21 comments

Carnitas lunch in Disney Cars gear

Carnitas lunch in Disney Cars gear


Okay, so I gave in to my son’s fixation with the Disney Cars movie and got him some Cars-themed bento gear for his third birthday. Listen to me preach that you don’t need cute, expensive gear to pack lunch, and then watch me do exactly the opposite. D’oh! Seriously, I have a problem: “My name is Biggie and I’m a bento-holic.” In any event, the box is well designed for little hands and the lunch bag is now Bug’s favorite, so expect to see more lunches in Cars gear.

Carnitas lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler lunch: Inarizushi (seasoned sushi rice in abura-age tofu skins, recipe here), prune half, strawberry, steamed green beans with bottled Korean barbecue sauce, and shredded pork carnitas. The carnitas is Del Real brand from Costco (raved about here on Kalyn’s Kitchen) — tasty and convenient, but not low-fat by any stretch of the imagination. I’m thinking about different leftover remakes for the remaining carnitas… Verdict: Good, over time. Bug ate the inarizushi, tomatoes and strawberry at preschool, then the rest in the car when I picked him up.

Cars bento box for child

Morning prep time: 7 minutes, using frozen inarizushi and leftover carnitas. The microwave was busy for this lunch. In the morning I microwaved the frozen wrapped sushi to restore texture, quickly cooked three green beans in my microwave mini steamer, and briefly nuked the carnitas to take the chill off.

Packing: The 360ml box comes with two removable inner containers, and I removed one to fit more food in one half. The beans went into a reusable silicone baking cup (mini), and the carnitas went into a Cars-themed paper cupcake liner that a preschool friend gave Bug for his birthday. All of Bug’s lunch gear (the lunch, a wet oshibori hand towel and case, and a little lunch cloth) went inside of a Cars “kinchaku” lunch bag with drawstring and cloth handles. It’s Bug’s responsibility to carry his lunch into preschool and put it into his cubby by himself, and this bag/box combo is his easy-carry favorite at the moment. Lightning McQueen bento box and bag are from Moritaya in San Francisco’s Japantown.

Cars bento lunch bag for child

Gear note: The wings (or flaps) on this box are particularly deep, giving little children extra leverage to make the box easier to open. This is a common issue that parents of preschoolers should be familiar with: is your child able to open and close all of their lunch gear on their own? When in doubt, practice with them beforehand. You may be able to save them some frustration and embarrassment.



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  1. Thanks Biggie! That was really helpful!

  2. Oh I wish I could find that box here in Canada for my roommates son..He Loves Cars and Lightning McQueen..Why does all the good stuff have to be in California:)

  3. When you heat something before putting it into the bento box, do you let it then cool before putting the lid on?

  4. oh that is a cute one! my dd has flaps like that on her Hello kitty one and… the lid doesn’t go down to hold the food in place well I find, but it’s a great size for her

  5. I’ve got to try your recipe for inarizushi! They look delicious.

  6. @1 from Monica: Glad you liked it, Monica! I remembered that you were looking for more info on what other things Bug packed in his lunch bag, and how he carried it.

  7. @2 from Fiona: It seems like little kids really like Cars and those characters. I’ve bought in! Help! Oh well, at least it’s better than some of those terrible Disney movies where the parents or the mother dies… (and your young child starts crying, watching it).

  8. @3 from Tara: Yes, I do (unless I’m totally pressed for time, running out the door). I’ve been getting up, throwing together the day’s bento, then taking my shower and dressing Bug while everything cools (out of reach of our two curious kittens). That way there’s less condensation inside the box. Good question.

  9. @4 from natesgirl: I have trouble closing the lid on the PowerRangers box we have, but not this Cars one, for some reason. They both have the good packing strip inside the lid for a tight seal.

  10. @5 from Christina: You know, I was never that into inarizushi until having a kid — they go crazy for them! Now I’ve started craving them myself…

  11. Hey thanks for mentioning my review of the carnitas, which I did think was quite good for a pre-made product. I think Bug deserves a Cars bento; look how hard he works trying out all these lunches!

  12. Thank you for that link to the recipie for making one’s own seasoning for the inari skins. I am on a Gluten Free diet and can’t have the pre-seasoned skins. Maybe now I can enjoy Inari-san again!

  13. @11 from Kalyn: My pleasure, Kalyn! The carnitas really was good; I later ate it with mole sauce, then as a topping for sopes. Yum!

  14. Hey Biggie!

    Wonderful blog, I love the pictures. When I saw this bento with the Inarizushi it reminded me of when I tried to make some with canned aburaage. I followed the recipe to the letter (washing the aburaage with hot water etc.) but the result was weird, the Inarizushi tasted really sweet. I mean to a degree where it overpowered the taste of the rice completely.Is Inarizushi supposed to be very sweet?

    Thanks :)

  15. Sorry messed up the name field above :/

  16. @14 from Yakumo: Inarizushi is indeed supposed to be sweet. Come to think of it, that’s probably why kids are so crazy for it. (I fixed the name on your comment, BTW — you’re no longer “Biggie” as well!)

  17. How do you keep the warm food warm and the cold food cold. Can you mix warm and cold in one bento box?

  18. @17 from NShin: You might want to check out my post on hot vs. cold lunch packing considerations here: Basically, it depends on how you intend to eat the lunch. We eat most of our lunches at room temperature as there’s no microwave at preschool or the park, but use thermal food jars for warm foods, and insulated lunch bags with ice packs for cool foods.

  19. I just happened upon your site. Just learning about bento and hoping it will help my picky eater. You have fabulous ideas and are very inspiring. I LOVE your cars box and have been scouring the internet for my son. I wish I were heading to San Fran!! Can’t seem to find anything in FL!

  20. What a fantastic lunchbox! It’s such a shame I don’t live in SF :( I’m 19 and I’m a huge Lightning McQueen fan :P

  21. Which abura-age brand do you use? I tried one, but the skins tasted horrible. Another brand was nice, but I’ve since forgotten the name (hard to remember something when it’s not in your native tongue). I’ve been craving some inarizushi, but I’m too frightened of getting a bad skin to indulge.