Easy Bento Box Lunches

GoodByn Bento - pic courtesy of Tiny Wiggles (1)

By: Michelle Monroy

Are you serving boring lunches?

Are your kids complaining about how boring their lunch is all the time? Are you tired of half-eaten or not-eaten lunches being returned home after school day after day? Can’t get him/her to eat their fruits or veggies? Try making their snacks and lunches cute and fun to help get those healthy foods in your kid’s tummies, where they belong.

Easy solutions: Bento Box style lunches

You’ve probably heard the term, maybe even seen a few pictures on Pinterest or Facebook, but maybe you have shrugged them off as time-consuming and wasteful. Well, these Japanese-inspired lunches make food more kid-sized and interesting that little Johnny or Susie may actually begin to like eating healthy because they are more keen to try new foods when they are interestingly presented.

Here are a few easy, low-cost ways to get you started on “fun” lunches that will surely make meals more interesting and appetizing for your kid(s):

Stock up on compartmentalized food containers

Separating the food will not only make their portions “kid-sized” but will also give your child variety. Most children like to graze when they eat, providing several smaller options can help satisfy hunger and avoid “food boredom” as well. Packing their snacks and lunches can be easier for you, as well, as you can just raid the pantry or fridge for a little bit of everything to fill-up all those little containers.

Invest in some Bento accessories

There are several, low cost accessories that you can purchase to help make lunches even more interesting, in addition to variety:

  • Vegetable cutters – Stainless steel works best, these are used to cut shapes out of various fruits and vegetables. There are many shapes on the market from typical hearts and stars to animals and even cartoon shapes.
  • Silicone baking cups – The more colourful options the better, as they can be used inside the food containers for even more separation and portion control. Cheese bits, crackers, grapes or whatever will seem more appetizing sitting in a coloured cup than without.
  • Food picks – Tiny toothpick or fork-shaped spears to help your little ones pick up their small bites. These come in a variety of colours and even characters, as well. A critter fork friend can be very encouraging for a little person to try something new.
  • Sandwich cutters and stamps – These are slightly larger than the vegetable cutters and some come with stamps to imprint the bread with a little character or symbol.

Stock your fridge and pantry with colourful, healthy foods

By providing variety and colour in your food presentation, you can increase the chance of your child trying new and healthy foods on a regular basis. A little goes a long way. He or she will not be so overwhelmed by 5 grapes in a container that is next to his/her favourite fish-shaped crackers.

Go to Pinterest or Mom Blogs for Ideas

There are many bento-box-making-moms and dads out there already and the internet is a great tool for finding ideas on what to pack each day. You don’t need to be an artist to create a fun, bento lunch, you just need the internet.

Although these may seem laborious, it can actually decrease your prep time because filling tiny spaces is less time consuming that finding one or two items to keep them satisfied all day. Plus, a little effort in providing an alternate way to present a simple sandwich, a cucumber or carrot etc. can make the difference between a half-eaten lunch and an empty lunch bag by the end of the afternoon. Who wouldn’t be tempted to eat a star-shaped sandwich with a panda face on it?

And don’t throw away those food scraps!  To prevent unnecessary food waste, store scraps in sealed containers in the fridge to be used in omelets or frittatas for weekend mornings!

Shopping Guide

Various Asian grocery or novelty stores, such as Daiso or T&T, carry Bento accessories.  PlanetBox and GoodByn are popular Bento-styled containers. As well, www.tinywiggles.com is one of many online stores that carry Bento items and ships within Canada.

Michelle Monroy is a stay-at-home mom of one adorable little girl, a food lover, a trend watcher, and an internet addict, with aspirations of writing a personal blog one day, as soon as she finds a niche that has not already been exhausted. When not with her little five-year-old sidekick, she spends most of her time in the day, in the kitchen or laundry room, or is out blowing off steam at a local kickboxing gym in the North Shore. In the late evenings, she is an active participant in school fundraisers, helps friends with small businesses manage their social media presence, assists others in resume-building utilizing her former Human Resources skill-set or is planted firmly on the couch watching a recorded episode of a favourite HBO or Showtime series. 

Photo credit. 

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