Emilie was a Lawyer in Paris, France, before moving to Tokyo 2 years ago with her family. She is packing lunch and snacks 4 days a week for her little preschooler and started to use Teuko a few months ago to get support in this new daily task. We were curious to get feedback from this first time lunchbox mom living in the world of “kawaii bentos”!
Tell us about your lunchbox routine.
I am the mom of 2 daughters (5yo, 2yo). My eldest daughter attends the French School of Tokyo, where she is served well-balanced and delicious meals at the school cafeteria. My youngest just started with pre-school in November so I am new to lunch packing and I’m not set on a routine yet I guess.
But anyway, I prepare everything from scratch in the morning, both because I’m not the organized kind of mom and because I think food tastes better when freshly made, – so does my kid. The preschool doesn’t provide heating, so everything has to be cold, which is quick to prepare.
I usually have an idea of what I’m going to give her for lunch, but I also adapt in the morning depending on the time I have ahead of me. When I have time, I like to set the rice cooker just before taking my shower so it will be ready when I’m dressed up : that’s about all the planning ahead I allow myself for now!
I’ve already tried to use leftovers from the evening before , like the salty madeleines or the quiche balls in my feed, but it was not a success, so I don’t think I will often reiterate.
How did Teuko help you get started?
I’m just starting to use Teuko and I still discover some options it has to offer.
At first, I went on Teuko because I was a bit lost: I had no idea what to pack apart from sandwiches. Then I decided to post my own lunches, just to keep track of what I was giving her, because even though I felt like I was making an effort, I still was under the impression I gave her sandwiches after sandwiches. It really helped me realize that I was both a bit right (still too much sandwiches in my feed I think) and a little hard on myself (no, I did not stuffed her with sliced bread only!).
I love Teuko because I simply feel less alone with that daily dreaded task. It really motivates me to try and prep new things without feeling judged for my “normal looking” lunches.Emilie, Japan
I enjoy looking at very cute lunches but I like the fact that a lot of them are just plain looking : I place well-balanced above aesthetic, even though cuteness never hurts.
Your best hacks so far?
I will share 2 lunchbox hacks: my fridge and my lunch box !
Japanese fridges are amazing : they have an entire compartment dedicated to fruit and vegetables, that keeps them really fresh for at least one or two weeks. I have a weekly delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables. That way, I always have cherry tomatoes, cucumbers (my kid loves them, as you can see on my feed!), carrots and such.
Having a “divided sections tray” kind of lunch box really helps me on a daily basis. I find it easier to remember to give vegetables and fruit when you have sections to fill. And my kid doesn’t like when the food is crammed together like it’s usually the case with bento boxes popular in Japan though.
Favorite lunchbox menus
Emilie did look back at all the lunches she had tracked on Teuko.com with her daughter. Here are 2 lunchbox ideas she picked up for you!
My youngest is quite adventurous actually, foodwise, so as long as I keep it simple and avoid “spongy texture” (i.e. salty cakes, madeleines, quiches…), she’s happy.
Bonus – More Tips by Emilie.
I have to be quick in the morning, so everything I need is in the same spot in the kitchen, from cutlery and kid’s towels to snacks and boxes. I dedicated one big drawer to snacks (apple sauce pouches, biscuits, crackers, dried fruits -I bought them on I-herb) and a small one to containers, cutlery, etc.
I always think “lunchbox” when shopping for groceries, even when it’s not especially the purpose of the shopping of the day. Living in Japan, without speaking Japanese, food shopping is not that simple. I’m always on the hunt. That’s how I came up with the idea of the spring rolls for example. And it makes things a bit fun for me.