Bento Lunch Ideas!
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!
More Awesome Bento Options:
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