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If you're looking for a gift for me, a Starbucks gift card is a pretty safe bet. I meet friends there for a quicker-than-lunch visit, or drop in when the kids and I have been running errands and want a little refreshment, and often I swing by the drive-through if the kids both fall asleep in the car and I have some time to kill and want a nice iced coffee.
Last week though, Joseph fell asleep in his car seat, while Anneliese was wide awake – and getting hungry. So I decided to get some coffee for myself and a Protein Bistro Box for her. But once you remove the little bread thing, the box looks pretty lonely, and it hits you… you've just spent $7 on a boiled egg and a few grapes.
I'm no stranger to packing fresh snacks in a cooler-bag when I go out with the kids for the day. I usually do it… but that morning I was in a rush and didn't have time to grab an assortment of foods. I keep dried veggies, larabars, and nuts in my car, but those things aren't really a meal substitute… especially if you're 2 years old.
So I grabbed some ziploc divided containers (I have mostly moved to glass, but there are some things that plastic is just better for (cheaper and takes up less space since they nestle into each other better). Ideally, I'd love a bunch of stainless containers like planetbox lunch boxes, but that is crazy expensive (fine if you just want one per kid and pack it each day before school or whatever… not great for preparing a bunch of grab-and-go boxes).
I ordered some 2 ounce solo cups with lids, but asked the guy at the deli counter if he had a few I could have until they came in the mail. He gave me these 4 ounce ones.
Then, I set to work. My first boxes included:
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 10 grapes
  • 1/2 large strawberry
  • 10 baby carrots
  • 10 sugar snap peas
  • 1 mini sweet pepper
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese (not paleo and easy to leave out)
Because I know people pay attention to this stuff, these are 540 calories per box, and here is the rest of the nutrition information:
This week I made these, which (in case you care) are 330 calories per box.
The other two boxes are dirty, so I only made 6… I think I should get a couple more of the containers to account for overlap time.
This time, the box includes:
  • 1 white peach (which I peeled and sliced)
  • 10 blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp hummus (not paleo, but we love hummus so make an occasional exception here)
  • A few pieces of celery
  • 1/3 bell pepper (mixed red and yellow)
  • 3 ounces turkey deli meat
  • 1 hard boiled egg
These have been GREAT for grabbing-and-going, and even just for a quick lunch at home when we didn't have any specific plan (or leftovers). A couple of times, I grabbed a box and just snacked on it throughout the morning instead of having breakfast at breakfast time.
The boxes fit great in my PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag, so I can just toss one in the car when we're out and about for a few hours. Then if a kid (or I) gets hungry, I can just open it up and they can choose something to munch on. And all of the choices are healthy ones, so they can have control over the specifics.
And here are the nutrition facts for these turkey and hummus boxes.
I'm looking forward to making more boxes like these, with a variety of foods. My general guideline is:
  • Large compartment = veggies, and some sort of dip to keep things interesting
  • Medium compartment = protein
  • Small compartment = fruit or grain free treat

(I actually made a small batch of boxes before these, that I didn't photograph, and I had 2 almond flour mini-scones in the small compartment. SOGOOD.)

Starbucks is great and all, but they definitely don't mind charging for convenience, and they can only guess at your family's chosen way of eating… some things likely miss the mark. By making your own “bistro boxes” at home, you have total control over the foods included and the cost will also be way lower.

I hope you like this idea, and if you do it, please let me know what you decided to put in yours!


Right now I'm using these:

But if I had a zillion dollars, I'd buy a bunch of these:

 

My littles happily snacking on a bistro box after a craft class. Quick and convenient, and way cheaper than Starbucks or other options.

 

 





Jackson (1 comments)

Great idea! I’m curious, how long do you think the boxes keep in the fridge? I’m making lunches for one and don’t want to have to throw away spoiled food. Cheers, Jackson.




Emily Chapelle (191 comments)

Depends on what you put in them, but ours are fine for about a week.




Scott (1 comments)

I don’t see anything wrong with plastic containers for something like a mostly dry lunch. I know some people kick up a big fuss about how plastic containers can contaminate food, especially the #7 recycling code (polycarbonate). Some people say #1, #2, #4, #5 are better types. In any case, from what I understand leaching from the plastic isn’t nearly a big a problem as long as the plastic is in good condition, it isn’t heated, and doesn’t have very acidic foods in in (such as tomato sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, etc).

If you were really wanting less expensive stainless steel containers, you might check someplace that sells Indian wares if there are stores near you. They might not be compartmentalized (some are, some aren’t), but you can get round stacking kinds and many other things. I’m sure they would be much cheaper than ordering from some fancy-hipster container place online. Just search for “indian stainless steel containers” in google image search and you’ll see a lot of varieties. For some reason it seems to be traditional to use stainless steel containers in that culture. I had an Indian apartment mate and he used them all the time (and he called pots and pans “vessels” but that’s another story).

Some Japanese housewares or bargain stores have some interesting containers, also. Think Bento Box or small shallow soy sauce dishes–which, btw, are a great size for little dishes of salsa for dipping chips into. It’s nice to draw on the nifty stuff from other cultures since sometimes they have interesting wares, ideas or traditions that make sense but you don’t see everyday in mainstream stores.




Irene (2 comments)

Where can I find the recipe for mini almond flour scones? Thanks! Irene




Emily Chapelle (191 comments)

I don’t think I’ve typed that one up yet! Sorry. It’s kind of in my head and I’ve made it a ton of times, always a little different. Same basic idea though. I’ll have to do that soon.




Irene (2 comments)

I tried the almond flour shortbread today and it was great. Looking forward to the scone recipe:)




Love this idea! My 5th was born May 19th, and the other four tend to want to be fed at very inconvenient times ;)
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Sarah (1 comments)

I love this idea! I want to do it! My husband came across your blog today and passed the link on to me. I’m so glad I found it!




Janine (55 comments)

Super fun! I’m planning to prep some snacks that Sebastian can help himself to once the new baby is born. These would be great! (He picked one of those egg & grape bistro boxes last time we were at Starbucks!)

Could your kids possibly look any more All American California Blond? I don’t think so. :)




Katie (3 comments)

LOVE this!! Thank you for sharing this, with the great food combo ideas, and the links for the containers (much more feasible than the stainless steel). And your kids are adorable!!




Barbara Alexander (9 comments)

I loved seeing your post here–it’s been so long!! Hope you plan to do more of it in the future!!




Marcy (3 comments)

Oh wow they are getting so big! I love your bistro box idea but was caught off guard a little by the pic at the end.




LOVE this. I need something like this for my boys since we never seem to have any grab and go foods, especially ones that don’t involve bread.






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