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Kids Bento Box Ideas

kids bento box ideas

Kids Bento Box Ideas from @BowsAndBentos

Have you ever felt like you've run out of kids bento box ideas by the 3rd week of school and you have 9 more months to go? You're not alone. Here are some tips that can help prepare you and your kiddos for success this year and beyond. Please note the following suggestions come from my experience as a parent of neurotypical children. They may not be realistic or applicable to neurodivergent children with more complex needs. Consider this a starting off point to build on.

Get Accustomed to “Ingredient Prepping”

What does that mean? Unlike meal prepping, where you cook a large batch of one meal at a time and dish out the week's worth, ingredient prep has you cooking/cutting ingredients in advance to make putting together your kids bento box faster (and leads to less waste).

kids bento box ideas

Some Ideas for Ingredient Prepping

  • Hardboil some eggs (stove, instant pot, or air fryer). Store in an airtight container (shells on) in the fridge for up to 5 days
  • Cook some bacon (kids will eat it cold and it makes BLT's fast and easy!)
  • Mix up some tuna salad
  • Bake some banana bread, pumpkin bread or homemade cookies for a lunchbox treat
  • Wash strawberries, grapes, apples, etc
  • Chop carrots in advance and keep in a closed container with water in the fridge. They'll stay crispy all week!
  • Grocery shop and/or make a lunch packing plan for the week (i.e., Monday sandwiches, Tuesday wraps, etc)
  • Pre-cut your deli meat/cheese/pickles. Stored in separate containers (or a divided one) these will last the week and make assembly a breeze.

Tip: The most important part of the bento box (in my opinion) is an icepack. Keeping the meal cold ensures food safety is maintained throughout the school day.

Healthy kids lunches

Encouraging a Healthy Relationship with Food

I *try to* make all my daughters' meals with all the colour, all the texture, and all the food groups. But inevitably: "Ewwww I hate [random food} – I don't want to eat this!" Sounds familiar?

How I handle these comments:

  • Wow, look at all the colours in this bento box. Do you think the whole rainbow is here? Let's sing the rainbow song.
  • I know you normally like beef, did you know this beef came from Amy and Kevin's ranch?
  • Do you know cashews are full of protein? Do you think they are soft or crunchy?
  • Look at these veggies, which one will make more noise when you chew it, carrots or peppers or cucumbers?
  • Would you like to try a bit of egg? It has a lot of protein too.
  • These cucumbers look like flowers, what is your favourite flower?
  • Do you think a piece of beef will fit on your cucumber slice? No way. Bet you can't fit that piece in your mouth…
Easy kids lunches

Make Food Fun!

By making meals fun, engaging, interactive, and pressure-free, we allow them to experience new foods at their pace. No forcing them to eat anything, just engaging them in ways that appeal to their developmental level. Exposure is SO important – the more they see something, the less scary it is. My tip? Make sure to include a "yes food" (something they love) with every lunch you pack. Better yet? Ask them to help you pack it!

At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what kids bento box you choose, or the backpack you decided on, or if your budget allows for none of that. None of us had them in the 80's and we're fine.

fun bento box lunch ideas

Let me tell you….

Bento box or brown paper bag.
Brand new shoes or dusty hand-me-downs.
Processed snacks or plant based & homemade.
Big box discount store or small maker shopping.
Trendy and fun or plain and functional.
Big budget or government assistance.

None of that matters.

Here's what matters: Loving your kids. Let them see you're their safe space. Ask about how their day went, but also if they felt supported, excited, alive. Kiss them goodnight and read that extra book they beg for. Stressing about packing your kids bento box? "Fed is best" doesn't stop being applicable when your baby transforms into a toddler. Be kind and teach your kids to be kind. The cost of this? *Nothing*.

You're doing a great job.

xoxo Rachel – mom & blogger @BowsAndBentos

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