As fall approaches, it’s time to start getting back into the school routine, which will mean waking the kids up early, checking homework and making lunches. This year, instead of sticking with the traditional sack lunch, why not try something different? Bento boxes are compartmentalized containers that let you get far more creative with school lunches. Not only can this shake up your routine and keep you on your toes, but packing Bento boxes gives you the chance to bring a smile to your children’s faces.
A world of options opens up with self-contained Bento boxes, because you can easily pack everything from rice and beans to salads and fruit all in one container without having to worry about your children losing all your container lids. It also gives you a chance to stretch your artistic muscle. Say, for instance, that one of your kids has an important math test he’s been nervous about. You can arrange chopped veggies into shapes like “1 + 1 = 2” or “A+” to give him an extra boost of confidence.
That’s just one small example of the fun you can have with Bento box lunches. Check out these other fun (and healthy!) ideas:
Bento boxes come from Japan, so as a nod to the traditional menu for these food containers, why not create a kid-friendly twist on sushi? There are many ways to go about this, but rolling up your kids’ favorite sandwich ingredients in a tortilla or spinach wrap and then slicing it into bite-size rolls can be a good route to take. You can use white rice if you want to stay close to the original, and layer some veggies and a slice of deli meat, possibly adding some hummus or a condiment if you want. You might need to use toothpicks to keep the rolls from coming undone – small swords or other fun-shaped toothpicks can add an extra level of enjoyment to lunch, but thinly sliced peppers and celery can also work if you’re careful.
Another option can be to spread low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly on a piece of whole-grain bread, roll it up and cut it carefully. Since all the ingredients are pretty malleable, you may want to use a piece of unflavored tooth floss to more easily cut through the sandwich roll-up without losing the sushi shape.
Getting kids to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables can sometimes seem like quite the challenge, but if you have fun with the presentation, healthy fare can be much more appealing to youngsters. Get some small skewers and a few different kinds of fruits. You’ll also need an assortment of small cookie cutters that are no longer than an inch in diameter. For this snack, fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew melon and pineapple work best. Cut the fruit into half-inch slices and then use the cookie cutters to press shapes out of the fruit. Then, you can stack the pieces onto the skewers in whatever patterns you like. You could use specific shapes for each fruit or make kebabs of a variety of fruit that are all the same shapes.
To put the finishing touches on this Bento box creation, use one small container for a dipping sauce to go along with the fruit. Fat-free yogurt can be good, or you can whip up a sweet fluffy treat. Live Better America suggested blending 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese with 1 container orange fat-free yogurt, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 cup fat-free whipped topping. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, and then blend in the yogurt, powdered sugar, vanilla and orange juice concentrate. Once mixed well, fold in the whipped topping and refrigerate until it’s time to eat.