Guest blogger: Laptop lunches

Improving School Lunches: It Takes a Village
By Amy Hemmert and Tammy Pelstring

Jamie Oliver, Rachael Ray, Chef Ann Cooper, Michelle Obama, these well-respected school lunch advocates are voicing what teachers like Mrs. Q have known for years: the majority of school lunch programs in the US are failing to provide healthy lunches for our kids.

We first became aware of the poor quality of school lunches back when our (now high school!) kids were little. While many parents, teachers, and other school lunch advocates were working to improve school lunch programs for the long haul, we decided to create a more immediate solution that would empower parents with the tools they needed to pack wholesome home-made lunches joyfully and with ease. That’s when we came up with the Laptop Lunches American bento concept.

Featuring 5 stay-fresh containers nestled inside a tray and a set of all-stainless utensils, our bento box allows endless healthy lunch creations from salads, to sushi, to wraps and more. Once packed with wholesome foods, the bento box can be placed inside an insulated mini-laptop case or sleeve, which will keep food fresh and intact until lunchtime.

Because we are strongly committed to providing inspiration and support, each bento set comes with a handy book of creative lunch ideas. And each week, we update our website with healthy lunch menus and photos that will keep your lunches fresh and stress-free. To help jump-start your back-to-school lunch prep, we’ve included a few of our kids’ favorite recipes here.

  
Egg Salad English Muffin: Add some pizzazz to your everyday egg salad.
  • Pile it atop a whole grain English muffin and add a lettuce leaf, some sprouts, or sliced tomatoes.
  • Oranges can be cut in many ways, and they look great when packed with dark green broccoli, red bell pepper, and yellow egg salad.
  • Your favorite dressing will jazz up the veggies as well.

Zucchini Sauté: This garden delight is one of our summer favorites. It’s best prepared when fresh zucchini, garlic, basil, and tomatoes are still in summer abundance. Be sure to try it before fall arrives in earnest.

  • Cook the wild rice per the instructions on the package.
  • Prepare the zucchini sauté.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet, then add 2 cloves of minced garlic.
  • Sauté 1 sliced zucchini, 2 medium diced tomatoes until tender (but not mushy).
  • Add ½ a can of cannellini beans and ¼ cup chopped basil.
  • Stir to heat thoroughly, then add salt and pepper to taste
  • Top with parmesan cheese and if you like it spicy, add dried, crushed hot peppers.
  • Serve with sliced cucumbers in one container a handful of cherry tomatoes and blackberries in the others.

Check out Laptop Lunches at http://www.laptoplunches.com/ for more great bento lunch box recipes!

***

Laptop lunches would like to giveaway a bento product to a lucky reader. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below and describe how you would use a laptop lunch bento if you won. I will pick randomly from the comments. If you already won a prize last week, please refrain from entering (thanks guys). The lucky reader will have a choice of any color of the Bento System (purple example below) or the new Bento kit (blue example below):
Bento System (above) and the new Bento Kit (below)
Note to readers: I want change to happen in school lunch served in schools, but I recognize that many parents want to pack to avoid having their student consume school lunch in its present form, to avoid exposure to food allergens, and to even save money.
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169 thoughts on “Guest blogger: Laptop lunches”

  1. This box would be perfect for me to take my lunch to college. It would make lunch packing easier.

  2. I already use the laptop lunch system and like it a lot. However, I've had mine for a couple of years now, and the "system" has been updated since then, so a new one would be great.

  3. I started packing my work lunch 2 years ago on and off but really became very conscientious about it in the last year or so and it definitely prepped this working mom for the packing of school lunch for my kindergartener who has all sorts of food allergies.

    I would pack my salad, salmon patty on sammie sandwich, grapes/granny-smith apples/banana, and a yogurt, combination perfectly in the laptop bag!

  4. I would love to win a Laptop bento. My kids' favorite lunch so far this year was an English muffin topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, with some edamame beans and melon on the side. They also enjoyed cold grilled cheese sandwiches sliced into sticks. My son would love that little dressing container for some ketchup to dip his grilled cheese sticks. I've been using the lunch guide in the book Feeding the Whole Family to come up with lunches to send to school with my kids. It helps me remember to nclude a fruit and veggie with every lunch.

  5. I'm a teacher, and I eat lunch with my students at least once a week (in the lunch room). I think that part of teaching kids to eat well is by example, and I always am mindful of that when I eat with them. They often are curious about my meals and get interested in trying new things when they see what I bring! I would use the laptop lunchbag to add a little pizazz to the presentation of my lunch, which would hopefully make more kids notice and want to pack healthful lunches.

  6. I actually would love to donate this to a kiddo that I take care of. He's a problem feeder, and this would allow him to take a lunch that he'll eat to school more easily. Right now, his mom is trying to figure out how to send lunch in an appropriate lunchbox, and it's just not working out so well. A Laptop Lunch would be perfect, but is not in their budget.

  7. These would be perfect for my college-age daughters and son-in-law as well as my daughter who is finished with college and working in a hospital setting. Three out of the four are very focused on healthy eating and the fourth is starting to see the light!

  8. I would use this for myself. I just recently returned to university and am having a hard time getting organized to pack my lunches on a daily basis. I think this neat product would definitely help me. 🙂

  9. Oooo, those boxes are awesome! I pack lunches for the kids frequently and I know the first thing I'd do with this one would be to buy two more for the other two kids to be able to have really cool boxes, too, lol! I already have a lot of fun with trying to make their lunches creative but this could really help keep them organized and encourage them to help put their lunches together more, too. I hate having to use ziploc bags to separate some stuff just because I don't have the right sized bowls to use.

  10. I would use it for my kindergartner's lunches. Since she started school, we made a deal that she could pick one day a week to buy lunch and we'd pack the rest of the week. Even *she* recognizes how unhealthy the food is and last week chose not to buy at all! (a 5 year old who passes up a corn dog! Unheard of!) 😉

  11. I love this idea, and would love to have this for my niece to get her to eating better! I don't see the school making any big changes soon, so often a packed lunch is the way to go. Unfortunately, there is too much waste in them, so this would definitely cut down on that…it would be great to help the environment, too!

  12. My big goal for this school year is to send my daughter with healthy lunches. Not only is what she is given at school not the best for her, we are trying to focus on teaching her good choices, and portion control. I love the size of the inner containers of the Laptop Lunchbox and would love to cut down on the number of plastic bags. So far this year we've packed very healthy lunches, but all the separate containers are hard to fit in her regular lunchbox. All in one sounds perfect to me!

  13. Our school lunches are just as bad as everyone else sees. Except for two years in preschool for my younger son, until my kids hit the high school they were provided with a nutritious if sometimes boring lunch. My older son was willing to make his own lunch each day and a sandwich was sufficient. My younger son didn't want to take lunch, so for the last two years I agreed to let him purchase lunch from his allowance. This year the district stopped subsidizing lunch. Lunch went from $2+ to $4+. At $4, the lunch is not only bad quality, but an extremely bad value. Fortunately, my son has realized this and is ready & willing to pack a lunch. But he's not a sandwich kid. I've been eyeing these bento boxes for a week now and would love to be able to pack simple alternatives for him. If it works for him, I may have to buy a couple more for my husband & I.

  14. i have been wanting to get one of these lunch kits. We are involved in moving across town (and doing a remodel before hand) and spend way too much time in the car. Individual lunch containers that can fit in this container would be perfect for our 'car picnics'.

  15. I started teaching 10 years ago in a mid-life career change and have been brownbagging all 10 years. My husband is also a teacher, and also brings his lunch. Our daughter will start kindergarten next year, and I would love to pack her lunch in this bento kit.

  16. Please forgive if this shows up twice. My computer blinked and I don't see my comment.

    My husband and I have both been brownbaggin our lunches for years. He teaches middle school, and I teach high school. Our daughter will start kindergarten next year, and I'd love to get her started with one of these bento kits.

  17. A laptop lunch would be perfect for packing for taking to school with me! I may be about 20 years older than your average student who these are aimed at, but I am still trying to pack healthy and take lunch to college and am restricted by what can fit in my backpack. I have actually coveted one of these for awhile and just haven't been able to afford one for myself. Pcik me!! Pick me!!

  18. My LittleKid would love her own Laptop Lunch. It's her first year in 'The Big School" (elementary)and she's already telling us that she DOESN'T want the school lunch. Thanks for doing this giveaway! 🙂

  19. My daughter loves fresh fruits and veggies but they are not offered in abundance at her school. I would love a lunch kit so she could take healthier items with her.

  20. What a great system. We would not only use this to pack school lunches if selected – but it would also be handy for bringing our own snacks/lunches along on the road. I would also use the recipe suggestion book to have my older child make some lunch decisions on his own and help prepare some of his own lunches.

  21. Oh my goodness…it would be so wonderful to win one of these. My husband and I are both trying to bring our lunches to work more often (and NOT having the lunches consist of a frozen lean cuisine and a granola bar…at least not every day) Having something like this to pack a nice lunch into would be super motivation.

    If you're able to send this prize to a Canadian, it would surely be put to good use here for sure! I'm not sure how to include my email address in the post but it's mel dot c dot sullivan at gmail dot com. Thanks!

  22. I love using bento to pack picnics for me and my little guy. He's not in school yet but once he starts I'd love to use the Laptop system for him.

  23. I would actually use the bento for my husband's lunch. My kids are still at home, and we often do what we call "dim sum" lunches – a little bit of everything arranged on plates. The kids love it and eat so many good things when they have a large variety of tiny portions of yummy and healthy food. A bento box would let me experiment with packing the same kind of food for my husband that I prepare for the kids and I!

  24. If I had a laptop lunch…

    I'd buy another one! Because with two girls, each always has to have what the other has, especially something this cool. I have long lusted after the Laptop Lunch for the way all the pieces nest together perfectly. It's hard to keep the kids excited about their packed lunches and this would be just the ticket.

  25. This system would support the way we're already packing school lunches. Right now, I use a variety of recycled containers to pack lunch. We usually include a main dish (protein and grain) and a fruit and vegetable. Our kids are great eaters and know that fresh fruits and veggies are part of every lunch!

  26. I'd like to say I'd use it for my kids, but I might just use it for myself. Or I'd buy a few extra so we could all have one!

  27. I would use this to pack lunches for my husband when he is on the road playing. He often is grabbing a quick bite out of a cooler as he goes from library to library and this would make it easier on me! I often can't get the dishes to fit in the cooler the right way..this eliminates that.

    Thanks!

  28. I would love to have a laptop bento to take to work! I work long hours and I have a long commute, so I eat most of my meals away from home and I carry an assortment of tupperware containers/ old plastic food containers with me each day. It would be so nice to have a more organized, and much more attractive, way to pack my meals!

  29. I just entered the teaching college at ASU West here in Phoenix, Az. I am in class on Monday and Wednesday from 9-5, with only limited breaks, I have no time to go home to eat, and the options at the cafe are horrendous. I also am at the school on the other days completing homework, reading notes, etc. I have two boys, ages 6 and 9 so when I'm home, my time is spent with them. I would love to be able to pack my lunch at night as I pack theirs at night ready for the next day. It would save so much time in the morning. The lunch box I have now is so big and bulky and doesn't fit in my messenger bag, so walking with another bag on my shoulder makes my shoulder hurt even more. I love the idea of the compartmentalized spaces. I am concerned with waste so I quit using Ziploc bags. I would be so happy to win this! Thanks for considering me. 🙂
    Ashley Schoolar

  30. I'm sorry. but how many kids do you know who would skip happily off to school with zucchini saute in his/her lunchbox???

  31. I'm having the hardest time packing a lunch for work and this might be the kick-start I need. I love the compartments and the portion sizes. I've been trying to eat healthier and save money and a Laptop Lunch would be completely perfect!

  32. I would LOVE a laptop lunch box. I have been wishing for one of these for quite some time. I am a horrible lunch maker (when the kids are at home or at school)… I am trying though. This laptop lunch might be the answer.

  33. I also adore the bento lunchbox concept but have never tried it. Traditionally lunch boxes seem lacking the the way everything ends up rolling together. Initially my elementary school aged boy couldn't wait to have school lunches, but he quickly changed his tune early-on when he saw the food that was being offered, and so we pack lunches on a daily basis here (x 2 starting this week.) I'm excited to see our country work harder to change the quality of school lunches and am hopeful that we can get back to better food values within the school system. Thanks!

  34. I would send it to school with my kids. It's so cool they'd both want to use it, so I'd probably end up alternating weeks until that drove me crazy & I'd buy another 🙂

  35. love, love, love this idea for carrying so many different items for lunch!!!! i've been trying to pack a bigger variety of fresh foods for my daughters this year, but sometimes i feel limited by the traditional lunch box. the laptop lunch system might just give me some more inspiration!

  36. I would use this for my daughter's school lunch. We decided this year to really make the effort to send lunch with her and she's really enjoying all the varieties of foods. We've been using a box collection to pack it, but a Laptop Lunch box would be so much simpler than the mess of plastic we currently have!

  37. I already do something similar for my kids, so I would probably use it for myself. I am starting to do more work (my youngest is in K)and want to avoid eating lunch out.

  38. I am a poor college student who doesn't have a lunchbox! I've been trying to hold out for a really good one and this looks great!

  39. Awesome giveaway! I am completely committed to packing a healthy lunch for my kindergartner everyday but we've already managed to destroy the zipper of her first lunch box. We'd love to give this setup a go!

  40. I would love a Laptop Lunch Box to use for my daughter's school lunches! I am working on sending healthful, appealing lunches to school with her, and the bento-style is ideal for us. I have two more girls to follow in their big sister's footsteps, so we've got years of lunch-packing ahead of us and would be sure to get plenty of use out of them.

  41. My husband is in the Air Force.A lot of the time they don't have the time, or can't leave the sensitive information long enough to go get lunch. This would solve our problems and allow us to send healthy filling food so that he doesn't come home hungry!

  42. Id love this great solution, I'm currently using baggies and plastic containers… while yes it works its king of a hassle. The laptop lunch box looks like the cure to my problem!

    I typically do some type of sandwich with a protein, one fruit, one veggie, and a random treat (like a low sugar homemade cookie, fruit leather.)

  43. I would love to have one I use an assortment of containers for lunches now would be nice to be all organized.

    Beverly

  44. I love Laptop lunches. I bought one for my son and then turned around and bought one for myself for work!

    My sister is a school teacher in Atlanta GA, 5th grade. If I would win one I would send it to her I think it would be great for her in packing her lunches.

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