Kid's bento lunch box guide
It’s back to school and back to packing lunchboxes. It’s never a fun task but with a few tricks up your sleeve it can be quicker, easier and great for the kids too.
Bento boxes are a brilliant way to assemble healthy and creative lunches whilst being good for the environment. They eliminate the need for wrapping and packaging and stop you having to rifle through the dreaded Tupperware drawer for multiple tubs and pots. They create a great structure and framework for putting together a lunch.
Bento boxes are brilliant as you can pop in chopped up fruit and veg, dips, wraps and even little treats. The one I use has 5 compartments which means my son gets great variety in textures, flavours and nutrients. I ensure there is protein in the main compartment and the rest are filled with fruit and veg with 1 for a little (healthy) treat. As a result it doesn’t really matter which order he eats it in and 9 times out of 10 the box comes back empty.
I also use them to store snacks if we are going out for a day or a long car journey. I have also used them for my lunch too when heading into the office.
You know your child, so tailor their lunches to what you know they will eat and like. Pop in the odd challenge or unknown ingredient/flavour if you like. I try to make mine look colourful and fun (and fruit and veg alone really does that) and try and make things different each time so neither of us feel we are stuck in a rut. Here are a few recipes, ingredients, and tips.
Mini egg-based frittatas baked in shallow cupcake tins are packed with veg and cheese. They are portable and great for little hands. You can really easily change the flavours and ingredients to suit and make bigger ones for bigger kids/adults. To the recipe.
Omelette Cheese & Ham Wraps
Another great way to pack in the protein is by swapping wraps or bread for a thin egg omelette that can be filled with a variety of ingredients. Ham and cheese are winners in our house. Or you could try some cream cheese and skinned, roasted peppers perhaps? Up the veg by blitzing the egg with a handful of baby leaf spinach.
Lunchboxes love leftovers. Pack up some shredded roasted chicken with half a boiled egg. Pop in a handful of pitta chips or lettuce cups to scoop up. Or stuff into some pittas with a spoonful of mayo and some lemon zest.
We have a range of kids' pasta that already has some vegetables in the mix! Stir with our delicious passata and top with a few mini bocconcini balls, some cherry tomatoes and basil (yes, it probably will be picked off). Don’t forget to pack a fork. To the pasta.
Star shapes or falafels
Chuck in a few pumpkin & tofu lucky stars or some falafel for a really quick and guilt-free way to fill the lunch box. Add a dollop of hummus to dip and dunk, or even some of the cherry tomato passata works a treat. To the stars.
- Raw veg is perfect for dunking and scooping. Halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks, carrot batons. Forage in your weekly veg box then chop them into age appropriate size and shapes. Mini veg is perfect for kids- mini cucumbers and sweetcorn for instance.
- Breadsticks are an easy win.
- Slice a few pitas in to sticks or triangles for pita nachos. Toss with a little oil and bake for 10 mins till golden and crisp.
- Hummus is a classic, buy our fave tub or whip up your own.
- Use a mix of roasted left over veg for a quick easy dip.
- Smashed avocado. Add a little squeeze of lemon or lime to stop the avocado from browning. Omit the salt, pepper and chilli flakes for smaller children.
- Our cherry tomato passata is a delicious dipping sauce (without the sugar and salt) for falafels or frittatas.
- A handful of frozen peas are great for coordination and kids generally love them. Pop them in frozen and they will help keep the lunchbox cool too.
- Corn on the cob - if age appropriate, send your little ones with small slices of corn or raw baby corn.
- Cubes of roasted squash or sweet potato for colour, sweetness and energy.
- Berries - Pop hulled, destalked berries in the freezer. This will stop you having a surplus of going-off fruit in your fridge and, if you’re organised, you can enjoy berries out of season. Pop them straight in to the lunch box frozen to help keep the lunch box cool. They will have defrosted by lunchtime.
- Sliced apple (toss with a little lemon juice to stop them browning) and dip in nut butter.
- Halved passionfruit.
- Melon chunks or slices.
- Pineapple chunks or slices.
- Mango chunks or slices.
- Grapes- halved length-ways for younger children.
- Cut your fruit in to age appropriate shapes and sizes and serve with yogurt.
I like food to look like food so generally avoid cutting things into shapes but sometimes, especially with new ingredients, it can help to encourage the child to try. Here I have made a few melon stars. If cutting veg into shapes, I always keep the trimmings and use them as a base for pasta sauces for instance. Get the kids involved with cutting out the shapes. This will also help to familiarise them with different and new ingredients.
PUDS & ‘TREATS’
- Natural, unsweetened yogurt topped with berries
- Chocolate rice cakes
- Courgette muffins - sneak some veg into some processed-sugar-free muffins. Tone down the ginger to suit your little ones taste buds.
- Blueberry crumble bars - these store in the fridge and are great for breakfasts on the move, a pick me up snack or a little lunch sweetness.
Head to our website for more organic inspiration by the boxful.