The school bell will, once again, be ringing soon and that means packing a morning lunch for your hungry student. The challenge is likely the same as last year. What meal will be both delicious and nutritious? (After all, you don’t want your handmade fruit kabobs being traded for crème-filled snack cakes.)
A solution many parents are using with great success takes a cue from traditional Japanese bento boxes. In its most fundamental form, a bento box is a small, compartmentalized container used for holding food. Bento boxes traditionally include a fish or meat, rice and vegetables. However, the many compartments make creativity easy.
Beyond the wonderful artistic presentation, bento boxes offer health benefits including portion control and well-balanced meals. Reusable containers also cut down on waste from sandwich and snack wrappers. Any way you pack it, this fun alternative to peanut butter and jelly is perfect for fussy eaters who prefer food groups remain separate as well as more adventurous eaters who thrive on unique dining experiences.
To achieve the full benefit of a bento box, balance your meal with vegetables, protein and starch. You can also add dairy and fruit to the mix depending on dietary needs. Remember that cookie cutters turn ordinary bread and fruit into smiling faces, butterflies and more. Use olives or grapes for eyes and slivers of red pepper for smiley faces. The options are truly endless. Plus, if last night’s meat balls were a crowd-pleaser, bento boxes are a great way to use leftovers. (Just remember to refrigerate as needed.) Remember kids should eat every color of the rainbow throughout the day to ensure their nutritional needs are met.
Finally, don’t think of bento boxes as merely child’s play. A bento box lunch is the perfect solution to satisfy adult-sized hunger at the office as well.