Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Separating food using baking cups

Some foods go well together. Chocolate and peanut butter create their own little slice of heaven when combined. Some foods just plain antagonize each other, and should never be mixed. 

Keeping food separate in a lunch box is pretty easy if you have an individual container for each lunch component. If you're using a larger container, like a bento box, then baking cups come in handy. 

Miss Mads is a berry fiend, but the pea puffs I packed in her lunch can shed little bits of pea puff dust, and I couldn't imagine that a blackberry with a pea puff coating would be particularly tasty. So, to separate out the berries and to provide a bit of visual pizzazz, I put the berries in a festively colored baking cup. 

There are two types of baking cups I tend to use - paper and silicone. 

Above are two examples of each. The blue cups are silicone, the multicolored ones are paper. Both kinds have advantages and disadvantages. 

Silicone cups

  • Reusable - It's cheaper in the long run, and the same cup that was used in your lunch can later be used to bake a cupcake
  • Liquid-proof - If you use it to hold something that's a little bit wetter than the rest of your lunch, like orange slices, you don't have to worry about the liquid seeping through the cup
  • More variance in shape - One of the blue cups is square shaped; there are tons of other shapes out there, like hearts
  • More expensive - While they aren't as expensive as they used to be, the per cup cost of a silicone cup is significantly higher than a paper one. 
Paper Cups

  • Cheaper - A single paper cup is a fraction of the cost of a single silicone cup
  • More variance in color and pattern - It's much easier to find brightly colored paper cups, and packs of cups will often include 3 or more colors and/or designs
  • More malleable - If you're trying to squish something in, paper cups can be folded and bent
  • Can be leaky - Not so much of an issue if you're packing nuts, but wetter foods can leak through
  • Not as sturdy - If you look above, you can see that one of the paper cups is a bit squished. Paper cups need a little more care in storing; some of mine had something lean up against them at some point
  • Not reusable - These are usually one use only. 
I ended up going with the paper cups for Miss Mads' lunch, mainly because I'm not sure I can trust her not to accidentally throw away the silicone cups. 

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