Healthy lunches don’t have to be difficult to prepare. But what can be difficult is getting your little one to actually try new, healthy options. Try using Bento Boxes to introduce your child to new foods. By presenting the food in a fun and creative shape, there are plenty of options to help you prepare a healthy lunch ahead of time with many ideas so your child won’t get bored with their lunch.

BENTO BENEFITS

Childhood obesity has become a growing issue, often because we don’t teach our children about portion size. Bento box lunches are a great way to carefully watch the portion sizes of each type of food you give your child, while making the meal just as much fun to eat as it is to look at. Plus, with reusable silicone boxes and lunch cups, you get to be environmentally friendly and cut down on paper and plastic bag waste.

MASTER MENU

If you have a hard time coming up with a variety of lunches for each day, create a “Master Menu” of ingredients. Let your child plan out their choices each week. This allows them some control over their meals, while also setting some boundaries for what they can have. It even teaches them about proper portion sizes.

‘CRAFTING’ YOUR LUNCH

While many websites have cute molds, cutters, and punches for creating elaborately crafted lunches, these are not a necessity. Check your local craft store for miniature cookie or fondant cutters, and let your imagination run wild! Pieces of fruit can become hearts and stars. Bite size pieces of cheese can be cut into flowers with cherry tomato centers and sugar snap peas for stems and leaves. A simple Internet search will provide you with endless ideas for keeping the lunches fun and exciting each day. A cookie cutter can even transform a basic sandwich into something super fun.

BENTO BASICS

  • A lunchbox or container with a secure lid. Divided containers work great!
  • Silicone muffin cups (these are useful for keeping wet ingredients away from dry ingredients)
  • Mini cookie cutters, or craft cutters
  • Edible food markers (perfect for drawing little details, such as eyes and smiles, on food)

EASY BENTO SIDES

  1. Dried fruit or veggie chips
  2. Bite-size low-fat cheese (Babybel® cheese works great.)
  3. Rolls of deli-cut meats
  4. Bite-size, granola bar pieces (perfect for kids who have difficulty opening packages.)
  5. Graham cracker bites
  6. Baby carrots
  7. Sugar Snap Peas
  8. Grapes
  9. Trail mix or granola
  10. Goldfish Cheese or Graham Crackers
  11. Fresh berries
  12. Bite-sized fruit pieces
  13. Nuts
  14. Mini sweet pepper rings with low-fat ranch