A bento box—a box of Japanese origin that holds a single meal and often has compartments for different foods—can turn a school lunch into an orderly yet whimsical delight! With bento boxes, you get tons of variety, colors, shapes, and flavors. Here’s how to fit this fun trend into your lunch-making routine.
Add simple shapes
Use small cookie cutters to cut fruits and veggies into fun shapes, making sure the leftovers go into a healthy smoothie.
Keep it colorful
Try adding each color of the rainbow to your box: red strawberries or cherry tomatoes, orange bell peppers or carrots, yellow pineapple or starfruit, green kiwis or grapes, blueberries, indigo blackberries, and purple cauliflower.
Build several at once
Prepare lots of fruits and veggies, then pack (or partially pack) several bento boxes in one go. You’ll feel like an artist creating all those options using your bento canvases. Plus, you’ll prep once and enjoy fun food for days! Invite your kiddos to help make theirs.
Turn meatballs into beary cute protein bites. Simply preheat oven to 400 F and roll lightly seasoned ground chicken or beef into meatballs. Use tiny balls of meat to mold ears and skewer them in place before baking. Bake until cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes (cooking time will depend on size of meatballs). During the last few minutes of cooking, press thin rounds of unprocessed cheese into the center of each meatball to make the bear snouts. When the meatballs have cooled slightly, gently remove the skewers. Use pieces of eggplant or seaweed sheets or individual cacao nibs to create noses, mouths, and eyes.
Make a couple of extra meatballs that you can poke with an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness! (Centers should be 165 F.) Pack meatballs on ice and ensure your child can reheat them at school.