Thinking Inside the Lunch Box- Kids Bento Boxes


Kids Bento Boxes

School is in session, and with school comes the daily task of packing lunches for my kiddos. My oldest is to the age where she can prepare most of her lunches by herself, but my Kindergartener is still a little young which means it is my job to do it for her. If you are anything like me, packing school lunches can be a tedious task most days, but every so often I have a few spare moments and can put together a bento box lunch for my girls. Those are the days when packing lunches is no longer just a task to be completed, but instead a fun and creative outlet.

I was introduced to the concept of bento box lunches for kids when my oldest was in preschool and I was immediately hooked. I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to the idea, as well as several bins of bento box supplies for when I have the time to pack these fun lunches. What is a bento box lunch you ask? In it’s most basic form, it is a Japanese style lunch that general consists of rice, veggies and fish, often served raw. The more elaborate form of bento lunches are incredible works of art, made entirely of food.

In the book Yum-Yum Bento Box by Maki Ogawa and Crystal Watanbe, the authors open their book by explaining the following.

“Japanese box lunches are called bento (or, reverently, obento). These yummy, healthy meals are all the rage in Japan, where mothers think of them as an expression of love for their children. Bento boxes can be made from scratch, but they are also a great way to enjoy leftovers.”

Kids Bento BoxesSandwiches cut into fun shapes, rice that has been molded to resemble animals or popular cartoon characters, fruits and veggies skewered on fun picks, and yummy finger foods separated into little colorful containers. Bento box lunches for kids can range from simple and easy to assemble to masterpieces that must require a lot of time and effort. My attempts are definitely at the simple end of the spectrum but I still enjoy putting them together and my girls have no complaints about eating them!

When I first started putting together bento box lunches for my children I just used what I had around the house- silicone cupcake wrappers to hold fruit or nuts and cheese cut into shapes using cookie cutters. I also tried to use as many different colors of food as I could to make the bento boxes visually appealing. As time has gone on, I have acquired additional bento box supplies including food molds that can be used to shape rice or hard boiled eggs, colorful animal shaped picks that nicely hold cut up fruit and plenty of sandwich cutters in fun shapes like mustaches, ocean animals and dinosaurs. But regardless of how many bento box “toys” I add to my collection, my focus is still on packing a rainbow of foods to keep things pretty and healthy.

My bento box lunches for kids are most certainly nothing fancy, but as the authors of Yum-Yum Bento Box explained, they are small expressions of love for my girls. I just hope that the sunburst shaped bread and flower shaped cheese slices will bring a smile to their faces as they sit down to eat lunch today.

Kids Bento Boxes

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Claire is a midwestern girl turned desert dweller, all in the name of love. She is married to her own personal superhero and is the mother of three (though soon to be four!) adorable wee ones. In her past life, Claire was a professional birth photographer but several years ago set aside her camera (from a professional standpoint) and started teaching preschool. She also runs a small side business, Hello PegLegs, where she creates hand painted wooden toys. In her rare free moments, Claire enjoys cooking, the occasional graphic design project and spending time outside in her garden and caring for her flock of chickens. She also loves to travel, especially when the trip involves a beautiful beach or going to Disneyland.


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