Bento Box Lunches: Cute, Colorful and Easy to Make (Really!)

By | September 12, 2013

MommyonaShoestring.com

Say “sayonara” to boring old school lunches! This year, add a little color and style to your kids’ mid-day meal with simple bento box meals that are as easy to make, as they are cute.

Embrace the Fun

Wendy Copley is a “Bento Box Sensei.” The mother of two and founder of www.wendolonia.com discovered her lunch-making calling a few years ago, after receiving a bento box as a Christmas gift. She became hooked on the concept, which allowed her to make visually appealing meals that were fun, healthful and delicious.

“I’ve always been creative, but once I had kids, I found it hard to make time for hobbies,” said Copley. “But with bento lunches, I can be as whimsical and creative as I like, while giving my family something they always need, a good meal!”

 Have a Few Tools Handy

When it comes to packing a bento lunch, anything goes. According to Copley there are a number of different companies that make Bento-inspired boxes, however buying a fancy box is not necessary. For a child’s lunch, Copley recommends using a plastic container that is roughly 4 x 6 inches wide and about 1 ½ inches deep. Although it seems small, it’s actually a great size, as you’ll be able to pack the box tightly, which will help prevent food from moving around while in transit.

Copley also suggests using smaller containers such as mini plastic bowls or silicon baking cups, which are great for corralling small items such as peas, corn or grapes. To add interest and variety, use a sharp knife and / or cookie cutters to create intricate designs, shapes and details. Remember, the only thing standing in the way of you and a light saber made of cheese is a knife.

Get Inspired

When it comes to making lunch, the biggest challenge is always choosing what to make. Creating bento lunches is slightly easier than their less-inspired counterpart because portions are small, which gives you more opportunity to experiment with flavors and textures. You can also get inspiration from various bento box websites such as hers where you can view the multitude of lunches Copley has packed for her family. Of course, Pinterest.com is another great place to go for inspiration, but be forewarned, it can be quite addicting. (http://pinterest.com/search/?q=bento+box+lunches)

Stock up on Fillers

Although anything goes when it comes to making a bento box lunch, Copley recommends stocking up on some standard fillers. Here’s a list of some of her favorites.

Shopping List

Bread / Carbs

Whole grain bread

Naan

Tortillas

Biscuits

Crescent rolls

Pretzel sticks

Mini-muffins

Goldfish crackers, cheddar bunnies or other snack crackers

Leftover pasta  (Toss with some chopped veggies, vinaigrette, salt and Parmesan cheese.)

Fruits

Apples slices (dip in pineapple juice to prevent browning)

Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)

Cherries

Grapes

Bananas

Mandarin Oranges

Veggies

Carrot sticks

Sugar snap peas

Red bell pepper strips

Frozen peas (run them quickly under warm water to start them thawing)

Proteins

Leftover meat from dinner (cut into chunks)

Chicken or turkey sausage with bbq sauce or catsup for dipping

Deli meats

Garbanzo Beans

Baked tofu

Dairy

Yogurt

Cheese (slices, cubes and sticks)

Cottage cheese

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