After a while, you may rely on the same combination of fruits, vegetables to serve your child, which can bore the taste buds of your child. After all, wouldn’t you get tired of eating blueberries every day for lunch, even though they are healthy for you? Likewise, your child may feel that way about eating the same thing every day, even when it’s healthy.
Well, there’s a way to spice up your child’s lunch menu without putting in too much thought into the ingredients: a bento box lunch. The word bento is a Japanese word for boxed lunch. But it’s way more than your typical sandwich in a plastic baggie. It’s about presentation. A typical bento box contains a combination of different fruits, vegetables, and other foods, all separated in different compartments. Sometimes bento box lunches are elaborate—breads, vegetables, and deli meats are cut into various designs to replicate a child’s favorite cartoon character or whimsical design. But they can also just be simple—a couple of pieces of celery sticks, grapes, and mini sandwiches make for a healthy and simple bento meal.
While the bento box tradition has been in Japan for thousands of years, it’s just picking up steam in the United States. Remember when lunch boxes were, well, just a plastic box with a picture of your favorite cartoon character? Now, many lunch boxes come with compartments ready to accommodate the multiple ingredients in a bento-style lunch. Like mentioned before, some parents go all out with crafting an elaborate bento box lunch. Sure, a fun design could make for a great conversation for school friends, but in reality, bento boxes do not have to look like a Pokemon or Hello Kitty. They just need to look pleasing to eat, which you can easily achieve by placing various fruits and vegetables of different colors: pickles for green, cherry tomatoes for red, grapes for purple, and many more finger-friendly and healthy foods. Here are a few more ideas of easy bento box lunches that you’ll enjoy making:
Select Foods Around a Seasonal Theme
Bento boxes are about looking visually appealing. You’re not just throwing a couple of snacks in plastic bags. You’re placing them in compartments within the container, which gives the meal a more cohesive appeal. Selecting your foods around a seasonal theme dresses up the presentation. For example, a fall-themed bento box could have a mini turkey sandwich or turkey slices, dried cranberries, and rainbow carrot strips to emulate a fall color palette.
Use Shape Cutters to Cut out Vegetables, Cold Cuts, or Cheese
Having a heart time getting your kids to eat vegetables? They may look more appealing if they are in different shapes, like hearts, stars, flowers or animals. These shape cutters can be used for deli meats or cheeses as well. It may look elaborate, but the cutters make creating different shapes quick and easy. All you need to do is arrange them in a whimsical layout. For an added treat, pack a dipping sauce like Just Ranch made by hampton creek. Of course, you won’t be able to pack a full bottle in your child’s lunch box, but you can use bento box accessories like a mini sauce bottle.
Pack on the Protein
When your little one is preparing for a big test or has to take multiple tests during the day, you could pack a protein lunch to help them keep hunger at bay and their mind sharp. A protein-themed bento box could include an assortment of hard cheeses, boiled eggs, or cut-up sausages, all easily cut up using bento shape cutters.
Use Dinner Leftovers
You don’t need to always make a new meal when making a bento box lunch. You could easily prepare a bento lunch as you’re putting away the evening meal in the refrigerator. Plan on making a little extra so you could hit two birds—making food for dinner and lunch—with one stone.
Go With a Monochromatic Color Scheme
While a bento box lunch best practice is to use a variety of different-colored ingredients, you could still try a monochromatic color theme. For example, a red-colored themed bento could consist of strawberries, apple slices, red bell peppers, and as a treat, red M&Ms;. If you notice that your child doesn’t eat what you pack, maybe it’s time to give new life to school lunches by following bento box ideas. These tips can help you put a little flair in your food presentation while keeping the meal simple and healthy.