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Have you heard of bento lunches and bento boxes? If you haven’t heard of them or seen them, you can check out Bento boxes here. If you have heard of them, you know it’s a fun, fairly new trend in packed lunches that traces its origins to Japan. Bento is a traditional way for the Japanese to pack single-serve meals they can take with them to work or school. They often consist of rice, fish, or meat, and cooked or pickled vegetables. The container is usually rectangular with compartments for each dish.
Bento boxes are traditionally made of stainless steel, but you can also find plastic and even glass versions. These food containers with an international flair are usually square and have internal compartments that allow you to keep your food separate. This gives you a great canvas to get creative with food.
Yes, with Bento boxes it’s ok to play with the food and come up with some fun and creative lunches for the kids (or yourself). Cut the sandwiches into cute little shapes, make some fun roll-ups, and get creative with fresh fruit, raw veggies, cheese, and the like as sides.
If you are ready to get even more creative, do a quick search online for bento lunch ideas. You’ll find ideas from gourmet food to fun and quirky kid-friendly lunch ideas. Who knew that you could shape rice and make it look like an adorable panda? You’ll find entire Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts dedicated to creative bento boxes.
Of course, there’s no need to go all out. You can make delicious and eye-pleasing bento lunches by taking just a little care with how you place the food in the boxes and taking advantage of simple little tricks like pouring goldfish crackers or raisins into paper or silicon cupcake liners.
What I like best about bento lunches is that they allow you to pack several small, snack-like items into one lunch. Your child will have fun picking and choosing foods for lunch and you know he/she will still get a healthy meal. Plus, what child doesn’t love a bunch of colorful finger food for lunch? Heck, you may even convince your picky eaters to try new fruits, veggies, cheeses, and the like if you cut them into cute little shapes.
Of course, these fun and delicious lunches aren’t just for kids. Order a couple of bento boxes and start packing your own lunch. You can go as simple or gourmet as you’d like. Or grab a few of your own favorite healthy snacks and call it lunch. The possibilities are almost endless with bento box lunches.
This post is the 4th in a series about Healthy School Lunches. Catch up on the other posts here.