It is so hard to believe that this time last year, I was nervous about moving across the country, finding a new home, and my kids’ adjustment to changing preschools. One of my biggest worries was how to pack a healthy lunch that my preschoolers would actually eat. The school my children started in provided hot lunch and nutritious snacks daily. They had an on-site chef and meals were served family-style to encourage good eating habits and table manners. There was no way I could compete with that and my spoiled kids would certainly know the difference! Plus, I’m no cook! I truly felt intimidated by the daunting task of packing lunches every single day.
Fast forward 11 months later and we’re settled in our new home, the kids are adjusted, I have a new job (upgrade!), and on top of it all, I’ve become a bento blogger with a recipes in a cookbook! I can’t exactly explain how it happened, but I became obsessed with the works of the amazing bento bloggers and their creativity and passion for getting their kids to eat healthy foods. I started copying them and taking pictures. I sent some of the pictures to a few friends. Eventually, I wanted to share with a larger audience and pay back some of the inspiration I’ve received by looking at what other moms are doing. And somewhere along the lines, I was invited to participate in a Cooking with Trader Joe’s cookbook! Trader Joe’s has been my grocery store of choice for more than a decade and I already owned several Cooking with Trader Joe’s books. I rarely use cookbooks, but I’ve used many recipes from their Pack a Lunch book and was thrilled to participate in the next volume.
The cookbook was a lot of work for me, even as a contributor. I had to create 10 recipes and write them out with precise measurements and cooking times. I submitted drawings to demonstrate the layout of how my food fit in the EasyLunchBoxes. My recipes were narrowed down to three confirmed entries and I had to submit some revisions on those too! I had photos done by our amazing photographer, Rachel Beck. I wrote a bio. I edited draft versions and gave sign-off on our final copy. If this is what I went through as a contributor, I cannot even imagine how much effort the core team expended in getting this book together!
It will all be worth it though, when the cookbook is released in September! It will be a great book for anyone looking for inspiration for to-go meals and it will be an awesome piece of memorabilia for my family to hold on to. When the kids are older and my lunches are a distant memory, we’ll always have the book to remind us of this fun and special way I sent a piece of home to school with them every day. I can’t wait to get the final copy in my mailbox in just 2 months.