16 Feb 70 Things to Put In Your Kids’ Bento Box
Not sure what to pack the kids’ for lunch again? Become a school lunch ninja with our go-to bento guide.
Originating in Japan, a bento box is a lunchbox with sectioned compartments that seal tight when the lid’s shut. It can make lunch boxing easier. If you invest in a good quality box (and it is an investment with most of them coming in above $35), there are fewer containers to wash and be left at school.
It’s great for the environment: sectioned boxes = no rubbish (and with so many schools even offering awards and prizes for rubbish-free lunches now, your kids might be excited too!). It’s budget-friendly: swapping squeeze pouches of yoghurt for 1L tubs and popcorn snack-packs for corn kernels, it packs a punch at the check-out. Using up leftovers is convenient = lower grocery bills. And the novelty factor means the kids will likely want to take charge of their own lunches. No wonder lots of parents swear by bento!
Here are 70 things that you can put in a bento box:
Tuna, ham, meatballs, cold sausages, egg salad, nori, turkey, salami, beans, BBQ chicken, pumpkin seeds and hummus.
Popcorn, bread, crackers, rice, pasta, granola, cereal, tortilla chips, wholemeal wraps, quinoa, pita bread, noodles, soy crisps, pretzels and couscous. Dairy and Dairy Alternatives Natural yoghurt, grated cheese, bocconcini, cream-based dips, custard, cottage cheese, fetta or coconut yoghurt.
Stick with things that don’t brown when chopped like peaches, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, kiwifruit, raisins, dried apricots, blueberries, mandarin, rockmelon and mango. Squeezing lemon juice on cut apples and bananas will keep them looking fresh.
Go for easy ‘grab and throws’: carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, sprouts, corn kernels, broccoli, cucumbers and beetroot dip.
Some foods cover a bunch of groups: French toast, sushi, yoghurt with fruit pieces, pizza, quiche, oat biscuits, wraps, bliss balls, muffins, sandwiches, fried rice, pesto pasta, rice paper rolls and banana bread. Combo foods can help with portion control.
Tips and Tricks
- Use silicon cupcake patties to hold fruit, yogurt and dips in the bigger sections.
- Fill the open lunchbox as you chop when you’re making dinner.
- Keep yogurt cold with frozen berries or mango.
- Check out these hashtags for inspo: #bentobox #bentolunch #bentoforkids #lunchboxideas #packedlunch #yumboxlunch
Make it Cute
Have you seen the Instagram rise of ‘picture bento’ when ingredients have been sliced and shaped to resemble pop culture characters and cute animals?
You’re thinking, who has time to create a work of art each day? But fear not, there are easy ways to up the ‘cute factor’!
- Shape fruit, meats, cheeses and sandwiches with cookie cutters. Hide some jokes in their lunch box.
- Scratch a message onto the skin of a banana with a toothpick – instant banana-grams!
- Thread popcorn onto a piece of cotton making a necklace or bangle.
- Make fruit kebabs.
- Leave notes on bread, biscuits or fruit with edible markers.
Words by Barbara O’Reilly + Jenna Templeton / Photography by Barbara O’Reilly
For more inspiration see:
Lunchbox Express by George Georgievski, (published by PanMacMillan) featuring simple recipes and hacks – plus some bonus adult lunch ideas – this is the book parents have been waiting for. Never have school lunches been easier or more inspiring!