Simple bento-style school lunches

My husband and I met in Japan and also went back to live there for a summer as a family when our first child was just a baby. Needless to say, we have a thing for Japan and Japanese culture, so when I started seeing various blogs and websites promoting bento box style lunches for kids, I was totally on board.

The funny thing is, I’m not really the cutesy, crafty type (especially when it comes to food), so even though I use bento boxes for my kids’ lunches on a fairly regular basis, I use them in a very simple way. The attractive thing about bento boxes is that it takes very little for them to appear cute, fun, and enticing to kids who might not otherwise be interested in lunch. They’re like American-style lunch boxes, but better because no packaging is required and healthy foods suddenly seem exciting. Cute, compartmentalized food inside a colorful container is just more fun to eat.


So if you’re not a hot lunch kind of family, but you’re all sick to death of the usual PB&J, you might want to consider the novelty and convenience of a bento-style lunchbox to get you and your kids interested in making (and eating) school lunches again this coming year. To help you get started, here are my three tips for keeping it really simple (more in the video above).


1. Get a bento box. From fancy and expensive, to simple and inexpensive (and everything in between–my favorite), it’s not hard to find what you’re looking for.


2. Choose your foods. My usual bento box style lunch includes a fruit (apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, melon, kiwi), a vegetable (pea pods, carrots, cucumbers, sliced peppers), a protein (hard boiled eggs, cheese, nuts or nut butters, jerky, leftover meat from dinner), and a carb (bread, pretzels, crackers, pita, bagel, popcorn).

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It’s also fun to throw in a little Starburst or something. The kids love that.

3. Make it cute. This is where moms like me get stopped dead in their tracks, because they think bento boxes are all about the cute, and it feels complicated and overwhelming. That’s not true.

I usually stop at number two, and that’s totally fine, but if you want to go overboard, there are some really easy ways to do that. The most I ever do is cut up my fruits and vegetables withthese inexpensive vegetable cutters, or do the same with sandwiches and cookie cutters (hearts, lips, and stars are favorites at our house).

I also include these food picks that make eating anything more fun.


I have one daughter who doesn’t like bread and most crackers, so I frequently send her with leftover rice from dinner formed into shapes with this awesome and inexpensive tool


and a small animal shaped container of soy sauce (also crazy inexpensive).


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My favorite website for simple, healthy, and fun bento lunchbox ideas is Wendolonia, but there are a million and one resources online if you’re wanting to jump into this head first.

That’s it! Fun and easy school lunches that are also “green” and healthy. With school starting in less than a month in most places, now would be a great time to go online and get your bento box ready for the first day. Go for it!


QUESTION: Do you have a favorite Pinterest pin, blog, or resource for healthy, simple, fun school lunches? Any other tips to share?

CHALLENGE: Take a moment to think about your family’s current school lunch system and consider whether this bento-style lunch will work for you!





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