Per Serving: $2.15
It's the return of the cucumber-feta-basil-stuffed tomatoes! These are easy and delicious and don't require any cooking at all. The perfect combination, am I right? Okay, so feta might not be your kids' best friend, but that's another reason why these are called bento boxes and not lunch boxes. Cause bento sounds more grown-up, right?
I'm sure I could come up with some awesome kid-friendly lunchbox ideas (look at me: modesty!), mostly because I was once a super picky kid who threw my sandwiches away on a regular basis. Seriously. I once begged my mom for grilled cheese and she explained that it would get soggy, and I didn't believe her, and so she spent precious morning minutes making it for me, and then I didn't eat it. But, because I'd already gotten in trouble at school for throwing my sandwich away, I threw it away in the large garbage can at home...where my dad discovered it a few hours later (still in the ziplock, sitting on top). And then he made me eat it. Way to go, CAITLIN. We grew up on the low-end of the budget spectrum, so it makes me even more ashamed to remember that I would throw away my sandwich and then complain about being hungry. Whatabrat. My poor parents were always trying to make us picky eaters just eat - and we'd subvert them by spitting our veggies out into the toilet or putting them on someone else's plate. How my parents managed to survive the hell of raising 4 kids is beyond me. I guess we're okay sometimes.
Anyway, this one isn't really for the kids. I don't think most kids like feta or balsamic or cucumber (I sure didn't), but I'm an adult who appreciates a good lunch, and I'm sure you are too.
Stuffed Tomatoes & Roasted Sweet Potatoes Bento Box
Cucumber-Feta-Stuffed Tomatoes: For the bento box, follow the same stuffed tomato recipe, but cut the tomatoes in half first. Core them and scoop out the seeds (don't discard - freeze them to add to stock!). In a bowl, mix together feta, cucumbers, balsamic, and basil, and spoon into the tomato halves. YUM. (Kid-friendly alternative? Taco meat, black beans, and cheddar cheese.) ($1.25)
Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Cube the sweet potatoes and season to taste with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder or other herbs. Dried basil is a good addition. (I sometimes like to add a little soy sauce instead of salt.) Roast on 450 for about 15-20 minutes. Also, I highly recommend utilizing your toaster oven - just roast on about 500 for 15 minutes for perfectly crispy potatoes! ($0.10)
Almond-Crusted Chicken Strips: Sorry! Here they are again! Almond meal and spices coat little bites of chicken. They're just so good. I will say that if you freeze and defrost them, they might get a little soggy in your bento box, but the flavors are still good. (Alternative here: hardboiled egg). ($0.50)
Grapes & Carrots: Or whatever other fruits & vegetables you've got on hand. (about $0.30)
Remember: It's a puzzle - so just add what fits!