Is your kid a fussy eater? Are you looking for some lunch box inspiration? Consider trying bento meals – a fun, colourful way to make their food more appealing. Aura from bentostories shares 13 Brilliant Bento Box Ideas That Your Kids will Love.
My kids were/are very picky eaters, all the time. We also have asthma to contend with, so try to ensure that they are getting the correct balance of the right food types in their regular meals – veggies, fruits, and lean meat.
I quickly realised that I had to put some thought into making the food look more exciting and appealing to them, if I wanted them to eat it, so I started creating bento meals for them.
What’s a Bento Meal?
A bento meal is a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box. Historically, it’s a Japanese box lunch, similar in concept to the Indian tiffin, the Korean dosirak, or the Filipino baon lunch.
A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.
Giving them kid-inspired bento meals has helped me ensure they are getting complete healthy meals. It’s the same food I want them to eat but with a different presentation. You can never go wrong with bento!
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How Do I Do It?
With a bit of imagination, I make something special for them – I make character/cartoon-inspired bento meals for them. Hence @BentoStories was created, because I try to think of stories to tell my kids about their bento box characters. It makes them more excited and attentive when it comes to the actual eating of them.
See some of my ideas and stories below for your inspiration, and remember you can be as creative as you like.
Do be sure to involve your kids in the process though and ask them what snacks they would like included, and even help with the preparation – they more involved they are in the process, the more inclined they are to eat the meal.
It’s also helpful to plan your bento boxes ahead – here’s a handy lunchbox planner.
Just One Cookbook has a good section on how to make bento and all things bento, like chopping techniques etc., which you may find useful.
You will need:
- Bento box (lunchbox with dividers)
- Food picks
- Food cutters and/or any shapers
- Silicone cupcake cups
- Food dividers
- Mayonnaise (optional)
- Mini condiment containers
- Nori (seaweed)
- Small scissors
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1. Tinker Bell
The idea for this box came to me after watching Peter Pan with my daughter. She asked me if I can make her a Tinker Bell bento for school. I used cheese slices for Tink’s hair and cabbage for her dress.
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Instead of using artificial food colors, I use whatever spices I have in the kitchen. For this one I put a little bit of turmeric, to produce lovely yellow rice for your little one, and ensure they are having a powerful antioxidant.
I don’t use artificial food color as much as possible but this one is an exception.
4. Monsters Inc
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How about Wall-E? A perfect movie for the family. Besides teaching us to eat healthy food and take care of our body, it also teaches us to take care of our environment and surroundings because it’s our only home.
Dried fruits and veggie sticks to go with a yummy Wall-E sandwich.
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6. Three Little Pigs
I mixed a little bit of tomato ketchup with rice to get my nice pink pig colour, and the ketchup is also perfect with the hot dog and chicken!
7. The Big Fish
The big fish from my daughter’s favorite bible story, Jonah and the Big Fish. With all her favorites! Every now and then I include some of my special recipes like my own honey chicken recipe which my kids love.
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8. Super Mario
When they are feeling a bit under the weather I try to add more fruits (vitamin C) to their meals to help boost their immune systems. In this box I also added some fried chicken to the little Super Mario mushrooms.
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9. Kero Keroppi Pasta
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I find it useful to stock canned goods, that are easy to prepare like corn, carrots and green peas, which I have used here with some chopped ham.
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11. Baby Owls
When my youngest was born, I used to tell my eldest a story – mommy and daddy owl prayed and prayed for a baby but instead of getting one baby owl they got two! And even if these babies are different in so many ways, mommy and daddy loves them both just the same. And they should always love each other too!
For this, I used string beans as “tree branches” with some very crispy bacon pieces.
I usually get my inspiration from other bento makers, but I am very specific with what I like to include and add to my own boxes. Whenever I can’t find anything that I think will be appealing for my kids I make my own version.
For this box, I grated some seaweeds and seasoned it, and I included some hash browns too
I like to be inventive when carving fruits too, like this apple, which I did using a small sharp knife.
Content provided by Aura San Diego, mother of 2 girls. For more of her inspiration, follow her on Instagram.
Over to you! Have you tried bento boxes with your kids? Let us know your ideas in the comments below.