For a long time, my kids lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a side of fruit for lunch. I was astonished they could eat the Same. Thing. Every. Day. But, they didn’t seem to mind and frankly, I didn’t either. But eventually, they went off to school where nuts are not allowed so I was forced to be a bit more creative. Don’t get me wrong, we still have an occasional pb & j on the weekend or a turkey sandwich, but my daughter (who is almost 8) is OVER IT. She got so bored with her lunch she just stopped eating it. And, that is not cool.
SO, I stepped out of my sandwich comfort zone and thought…I’m gonna try something new. Enter the Bento box . For those unfamiliar, a Bento box is small box that contains separate little compartments, perfect for small portions of various things. I have tried a few different kinds. First was one by Sistema from Target (see top pic), not so good. The separator is detachable, which was nice but it wasn’t tight so it constantly slid around. Also, the lid is domed so the food didn’t stay in place. It would be fine if you are keeping your lunch upright but for a kids lunch, that gets thrown across the room like dirty socks, it’s not functional. I recently upgraded to this one (see bottom 2 pics) and so far, so good. No spills, leaks and it’s easy to clean. If you have one that you absolutely love, let me know!
I was going to create combinations for you but then I realized, there are so many options, kids are so picky and many have food allergies, so instead, I’ll provide you with a guideline to pick and choose what works for your kids. Feel free to combine the categories into one main dish like a pasta, sandwich, salad or soup. But if you just want to fill the slots with healthy options, that works too.
Here you go:
|Pick 1||Pick 1||Pick 1||Pick 2|
|Protein||Grains (100% or mostly whole grain)||Dairy||Fruit/Veggies|
|Uncured lunch meat||Crackers||Cheese (sticks, cubes, shreds, etc.)||Pineapple Melon|
|Cooked chicken||Bread||Yogurt or drinkable yogurt||Berries Cherries|
|Turkey/Beef Jerky||Pita, tortilla, or naan||Dips (made with yogurt and/or milk)||Apple Avocado|
|Egg||Muffin||Low Fat or Skim Milk||Grapes Kiwi|
|Tuna||Granola bar||Pear Mango|
|Smoked salmon||Noodles||Nectarines Peaches|
|Vegetarian protein||Rice||Plums Orange|
|Edamame||Oatmeal||Tomato Bell Pepper|
|Nuts or nut butter||Cereal||Banana Celery|
|Seeds or seed butter||Carrots Snap Peas|
|Beans or bean spread||Cabbage Leafy Greens|