The one thing I never looked forward to during back-to-school time for my kiddos was coming up with clever and somewhat healthy lunches that my kids would actually eat. I did not like falling into the pattern of same ol’, same ol’ for lunch every day, but sure enough, as the school days progressed and we got busier and busier, it was back to the old standby – PB&J and applesauce. This year, we’ll be homeschooling by two older boys again, but I am sending my baby girl to preschool, so it’s back to the lunch dilemma.
Enter the Bento Box:
I know it’s not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but duh! This is perfect for kids’ lunches. Plus, they’re more friendly to the environment (ugh, no more plastic baggies) and allow for healthier portions and food choices. I plan to start doing these bento box lunches with my homeschool boys as well–I see no reason why they can’t put together their own creative lunch combinations while I’m packing for baby girl and this way, we don’t have to stop our lessons in the middle of the day to try and figure out what we’re having for lunch.
To help you plan your own bento box lunches, I’ve come up with a couple of ideas for you:
The “Looks Like Sushi But it’s Not” Box:
- Pinwheels – Spread a small amount of lowfat cream cheese onto a tortilla. Add in some shredded cucumbers and carrots then layer with a slice of lean ham or turkey lunch meat. Roll up the tortilla and cut into thin slices.
- small carrot sticks
The “Better PB&J” Box
- Make a regular PBJ sandwich, but be sure to use whole grain bread and sprinkle on some ground flaxseed onto the peanut butter side before putting the sandwich together. Cut sandwich into fun shapes using cookie cutters.
- frozen raspberries (keeps yogurt cool)
The “Fiesta” Box
- Salsa made from strained black beans and canned corn
- Pita chips
- mango cubes
- sliced avocado
- lime wedges
- monterrey jack cheese cubes
The “Taste of Italy” Box
- Olives (pitted)
- Mozzarella balls
- Grape tomatoes
- Slice of garlic toast (whole grain bread)
- Fat Free whip cream
When you’re getting ready to do the grocery shopping for the week, take a few minutes to fill out this “5 days of BentoBox” lunches worksheet – you can even use it for the grown ups of the family, too.
Or, if you’re really feeling brave, work with your children and let them draw in their own bento creations (again, click the pic for a printable version):