Thursday, 26 July 2012

Breakfast- Vancouver, Canada

Hello again!

Bento Mama here sharing one of my family’s (even French toast hating Mr.Bento!) favorite breakfasts with you! Being a full time working mom, a part time student, and having between 4-6 people living in my home at all times, I’m all about doing things as efficiently and cost effectively as possible with ideally minimal amounts of waste. I recycle almost everything, reuse and repurpose where possible, and generally find as many ways as I can to save money, and the environment. Many people have asked me if bento making creates a lot of waste with all the bread, meat, and cheese scraps. The answer is a resounding YES… and no!! While bento making creates lots of scraps, I have taken to saving them (in either the fridge or freezer) for use in different meals! This super delicious French toast breakfast casserole is an excellent example. All my sammie scraps go in a bag in the freezer for use in this budget friendly and super easy meal!

I served today’s breakfast with fresh sautéed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries) and a little icing sugar for garnish. The kids also had grilled ham and a glass of milk to balance out the meal.

Here’s today’s breakfast rating (according to my kids!)
Food-o-meter: 10/10 “it’s really yummy!!” (it started at 2 out of 10 until I re-explained how the rating system worked to my 4 year old)
Mouthfuls: Lots! Little mouths take lots of bites!
Courses: Breakfast
Health Rating: 9/10, The icing sugar brings this one down
Price: Super cheap!! This meal is made entirely out of leftovers!!
Pieces of hair: 0!
Dining time: 21 minutes and the plates were licked clean, and it would have been longer if I didn't bribe the kids with cartoons!

If you want the full recipe to make your own super cheap breakfast head over to my blog. If you’re not a fan of cooking, but still want a cheap meal, head over here to help NeverSeconds provide meals, and a kitchen with Mary’s Meals to children in Malawi! A mere £10.70 or $16.92 Canadian will feed a child for an entire year!
Thanks again VEG and Daddy VEG for allowing to me participate in this amazing initiative!
Until next time,
Bento Mama


  1. That looks mouth-watering! Also great idea to use the scraps.

  2. A french toast casserole - wow! You do have imagination. Growing up my dad made breakfast many mornings - porridge every time. Uggh! I was a stubborn tyke and would voluntarily go hungry rather than eat what I didn't like, which included porridge and leftovers. Happened fairly often with porridge. Sacrilege for Scots and some others I believe. Sorry. However, Bento Mama, I will say your amazing leftovers meal is very enticing. Are second helpings allowed since it is leftovers. Don't want to triple-cycle do we? bill in Nova Scotia

    1. Bill, your comment made me smile, albeit sadly.

      Several years ago, a friend of mine from England came to visit me. She had breast cancer and it wasn't discovered until late enough that it had metastasized. We all knew she didn't have much more time left with us, but she had said that one of the things she wanted to do before she died was to visit the US. So her parents gave her some financial help, and she made a very quick visit between her weekly chemo treatments.

      When she got here, I took her to the store to see if there were any "local" foods she wanted to try. She asked for "porridge oats" (what we call "oatmeal") and I said I had some at home. Seems her father always woke up early and made porridge for her on Sundays when she was was a child and when she went home for a weekend as an adult. I made porridge for breakfast the next day.

      I now often eat porridge on Sunday mornings. Doing so reminds me of a very dear friend that I lost much too soon.

    2. Jaylah, beautiful story and it brought a tear to my eye! My mom always made me cream of wheat and I loved it then and love it now... People think I'm crazy for it though!

      Thank you for sharing!

  3. Looks great - although it's again a bit on the sweet side *cough*

    If You want to try something different with those white-breat leftovers and crusts, You might try Bavarian Bread Dumplings (or Semmelknoedel as we call them here in Germany; example recipe here:

    Quite easy to make and great as a side dish for roasts or as a main course if itself, served with a sauce. My favourite sauce is made by frying some chanterelles in butter, adding some diced (?) onions and ham (cut into very small cubes). Add a bit of flour, stir a bit 'til the flour takes a bit of colour, than add some (homemade, if possible ^^) chicken broth. Some salt and pepper and some minced parsley added for taste - yummy!

    And maybe the best thing about those Semmelknoedel is, that You can deepfreeze them, after they've been boiled. Prepare them ahead, then get them out of the freezer when You need them. Let them thaw and either put the whole dumplings into some salted water, close to boiling temperature or cut them in slices and fry them in a pan.

    (seems AIM won't display my nick here so..)
    Greeting from Maik (that pronounced just like Mike) from Germany

    1. Those look delish!! I've saved that recipe to make later!! I'll definitely post on my blog ( and let you know how it turns out!

  4. I don't think a little bit of sweet hurt anyone! You've gotta keep food fun for kids even while maintaining the healthy aspect. Sounds like you've got all of that going n and more Bento Mama!
    -Michelle, NH USA

    1. Yes, "a little bit of sugar" is okay.. the big problem is the large amount of hidden sugars in so many types of foodstuff.

      And then there's the fact, that sugar is addicitve.. that's one of the reasons why sweetstuff is so successfull and why so many companies use so much sugar for their food products.
      To make it worse, it seems that those sweeteners used to replace sugar aren't a bit more healthy ^^

      So about the only way to keep people from using way too much sugar than what is good for them is the education in the earliest phases of life.

  5. Hello Again - back to you all,

    Looks like another great breakfast (although I would not eat the ham), I do like fruit.

    Thank you again for sharing.

  6. Yummy!! I'd eat that! :)

    I'll agree with Bento Mama here. The sugar is probably a little high in this one, considering that there are three tablespoons of sugar in her French toast casserole recipe, plus there's some sugar in the (1/3 Cup) pancake mix used in it, and then the added icing sugar dusted over just before serving. Thus dropping the "health rating" down by a point.

    But when you consider how most people eat French toast (or pancakes or waffles, etc.) dripping with syrup, this containes less sugar than that way. And Bento Mama is aware that this breakfast contains a bit more sugar than might be optimal, so my guess is that she'll make sure the rest of the days meals aren't high in sugar.

    And it's a super way to use up left-over bread! Even if you aren't making cut out bento-sandwiches, unless it's home-made straight out of the oven, I'm not real fond of the end pieces of bread. You could keep a bread-wrapper in your freezer to toss in the end pieces and, when you have enough, make something like this. The "crust" pieces actually work better because they're a bit firmer and keep their shape better.

    In reality, this is really just a bread pudding with a few additional ingredients (like the pancake mix). I make bread pudding with the following:
    4 beaten eggs
    2 1/4 cups milk
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel (optional)
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    4 cups dry bread cubes (6 to 7 slices bread)

    Then I serve it with fresh fruit on top. A lot of people put dried fruit in it (like raisins, etc.) while mixing it up, but I don't usually have raisins on hand when I make it, and -- even if I do -- I prefer the fresh fruit just before serving.

  7. Hello Bento Mama:

    Nice to read you again! After your first post I went to your blog and read almost everything, it was a great incentive to finish a bit of work then read a post, finish a bit of work then read a post. The day just flew by, thank you!

    All the best,
    Santa Barbara, CA

    1. I did the same! (and echo the same sentiments!) :)

  8. Thank you all for the kind comments. You know, it's funny because the first time I made this recipe I adapted it from another recipe I found on the internet. I question if the added sugar is necessary, especially given that I served it with super sweet fresh picked berries on top! Plus, it does have apple sauce in it (I substitute the apple sauce for the oil/butter that the original recipe called for) as well to help bring the sweetness up (even though I always use unsweetened apple sauce)

    I also question the need for the pancake mix. I'm thinking it's used as a levener or to thicken the entire mix, but I don't know that a little flour wouldn't suffice.

    This recipe is still new to me, and I think I'll do a little further tweaking to see if I can make it a little healthier. Another thing I didn't add was the servings and that this easily makes 6-8 servings so when you take the sugar content and spread it over 8 servings it's really not too much! :)

  9. i'm american and live in israel, and am used to making "french toast casseroles" under the name "bread pudding". it's one of my favorite foods, savory and sweet! the best part is baking it all in one dish instead of frying individual pieces of bread.

    i just wanted to point out that just because something is made with scraps and leftovers does not mean it's any less expensive than any other food- that's a miscalculation. unless you accounted for it by saying that the original food that generated the scraps costs more because it generates waste that you'd be willing to throw away. and i don't know about in canada, but fresh berries are expensive fruit!

    in addition, coconut oil is unhealthier than other oils. that, in addition to all the sugar, refined flour (don't know what kind of bread you used), and cholesterol in the recipe (and i don't eat ham, but i think it also has a lot of sodium) would lead me to question your 9/10 health rating.

    pancake mix in the recipe is likely as you said- to add flour and baking powder- and you can save a lot of money by adding those things instead.

    otherwise, VEG, i absolutely adore your blog and what it's done to promote international-kid-parent-teacher-food-writing-health awareness-economic dialogue!