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Bento Lunch Ideas!

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Using a Bento Box can be an unusual and effective means of piquing your child’s interest in healthy eating. But what do you put in a Bento Box? Better yet, for those unfamiliar with the term, what exactly is a Bento Box?

What is a Bento Box?

A Bento Box is a traditional Japanese lunchbox that usually contains one serving (or meal) that consists of fish or some sort of meat, rice, and vegetables arranged carefully so that it is aesthetically pleasing. The different foods are usually separated by partitions to keep the food separate. You find Bento Box lunches everywhere in Japan. Some people make them from scratch at home, but you can also find them in take out restaurants, convenience stores, and even in train stations.

What Do You Put in a Bento Box?

While Bento Boxes are traditionally used with things like sushi and rice and traditional Japanese vegetables, it is not necessary that you stick to Japanese cuisine when creating a Bento Box Lunch. In fact, when you are packing a Bento Box for a child, the greater variety of combinations that you can come up with to put in the box, the longer you will be able to keep their interest in healthful eating. Below you will find some ideas for snacks and small foods that you can put in a Bento Box.

Sandwiches and Such:

Cucumber Oreos. A cucumber Oreo is made up of two cucumber slices with a layer of cream cheese in between. You can stand these up like Oreos in a package for maximum visual impact.

Pita Triangles and Hummus Dip. If your child likes hummus, they’ll love dipping pita triangles in hummus dip (or you can include a plastic knife so they can spread the hummus). If they are not partial to hummus, try putting cream cheese between two pita triangles for a stackable sandwich.

Sesame Seed Circles. Round sesame seed crackers are a great alternative to chips as a standalone snack, but they can also be made into mini-sandwiches by putting peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese, or any other type of spread or sandwich filling in between them.

Mini Bread Sandwiches. There may be other brands, but Pepperidge Farms carries a variety of “party sized” mini-breads that can be used to create Bento Box-sized sandwiches using any sandwich filling that you can think of.

Jasmine Rice. Believe it or not, many children love to eat rice plain, and Jasmine rice has a particularly sweet flavor that most children love to eat. (Hint: put pineapple chunks in the same lunch as the Jasmine rice, and you’re sure to have a hit!)

Fruits and Vegetables:

Almost any fruit or vegetable that can fit (or be cut to fit) into a Bento Box is fair game. Some of the favorites include brightly colored fruits and vegetables like pineapple chunks, cherry tomatoes, apple slices, baby carrots, black olives, or canned corn that has been well-drained.

For the Sweet tooth:

Kids love sweet things, and unfortunately there are more than enough sickeningly sweet products on the market to satisfy any child’s cravings. But if you want to minimize the amount of harm done, consider some of the following sweet snack ideas:

Cut-up Strawberries in Stevia. (Stevia is the South American all-natural sugar substitute. It is 100% natural and has been used in South American for centuries with no side-effects. You can use it just like sugar and your child will never know the difference).

Apple Chunks in Caramel Sauce. Yes, I know caramel sauce isn’t exactly healthy, but it isn’t messy, and it is better than all the additives you’ll find in most pre-processed sugar snack foods, and it is thick enough to not make a mess in a Bento Box.

Chinese Sweet Rolls. Chinese sweet rolls are a great alternative to heavily processed sweet snacks. They are also the perfect size for a Bento Box!



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