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9 Bento Box Recipes For Real Life

9 Bento Box Recipes For Real Life

What is bento and why is it in a box? 

The literal definition of bento is a Japanese-style packed lunch.  

Recently, the school-aged world of kids and parents has gone absolute bonkers for all things bento boxed lunch recipes related. Elaborate how-to’s are found practically everywhere you look on Pinterest and the trend has gone absolutely viral on the internet. Somehow, being a good parent became strictly correlated with creating elaborately decorated packed lunches, bento boxed style.  

Quite frankly, it was exhausting to keep up with. Parents everywhere were panicking, as they were staying up at all hours of the night trying to perfect the cutest rice bear shapes and star cut melons (this is an exaggeration of course). I do not know about you, but I hardly have the time to shower, let alone create some elaborate school lunch bento box recipes for my kids.  

But in all honesty, the appeal of bento with school aged kid’s lunches is a match made in heaven. Picky kids with short attention spans (who would just rather go play with their friends on the playground than eat a boring lunch and the magical bento box) is truly a match made in heaven. 

So, in an effort to keep up with the “cool” and all with it” with it parents, I have created these nine bento box recipes for real life that even I the super busy, not-so-crafty and often sleepy mom can do. And if I can do them, so can you.  

History of Bento

I feel as though, in order to fully embrace a trend, we should first be truly embracing its history as well, amiright? The history of bento is relatively short and totally understandable. So let us get started.

Bento: The word “bento” was coined by the 16th century military commander Oda Nobunaga. He was well known for feeding large amounts of his people at his castle by having simple meals handed out to everyone in boxes. The term bento was quickly adapted to this simple manner of meal service.

Traditional vs. Modern

Whereas the traditional bento box meals usually contain rice, fish and vegetables, the modern day bento box meal may contain ham sandwiches with specifically cut star- shaped melons and cube- shaped mozzarella blocks. Call it cultural appropriation or call it whatever you’d like, the modern day obsession with bento boxes is a perfect fit for school- grade lunches. Simple ingredients in fun shapes that have their own separate compartments? The modern day 6 year old had that at “Hello!”.

Bento Box Recipes makes well balanced meals super easy

We have all heard that a well balanced diet gives our children’s bodies the nutrients they need to thrive and grow. This well balanced diet will generally need to include the following food items daily: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes (such as peas, peanuts and lentils), nuts and lean proteins. Now, is that not just perfect for a bento box lunch? Yes, yes, it is my friends. These daily well balanced food items can be very easily made into a bento box. Now check out our 9 bento box recipes to build your own:

9 bento box recipes for real life

To begin, you will want to pick up an already specially designed bento box from Zulily to get you started. These ready made lunch kits make creating a bento box lunch especially easy and simple. With these handy kits in hand, creating a bento box is so much easier and less time consuming. You can thank me later.

The kid fave:

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crusts removed, sliced green grapes, a peeled mandarin orange, a small handful of baby carrots and a few small chocolate chip cookies for dessert with a milk to drink.

The vegetarian kid fave:

Cucumber salad sandwich cut into long and skinny rectangles to fit into your bento box, baby carrots with hummus dip, strawberries sliced to look like hearts, a handful of blueberries and a small portion of vegan chocolate chips for dessert, with flavored water to drink.

The uber picky kid fave:

Precooked chicken nuggets with a side of ketchup, low-fat potato chips, sliced banana (or their favorite fruit), mozzarella sticks cut into cubes, a 100% juice box and a cookie for dessert.

The cheese-loving kid:

Several types of cheese cubed and sliced (such as white cheddar, sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese), berries (such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries), sliced cucumber, sliced cooked meat such as salami, or even cut- up cooked hotdogs. One chocolate chip cookie for dessert and a 100% juice box to drink.

The too-busy-to-eat kid:

Butter crackers, cheddar cheese slices and simple meat slices. Served with a 100% juice box. Make sure the dessert is an option only when the entire lunch has been consumed first. That will ensure your child will eat everything before they eat the sweet stuff (well, at least we’re hoping they will).

The charcuterie-loving kid:

An array of Italian meats served charcuterie style, served with whole wheat crackers, a small variety of sliced cheese (such as sharp cheddar and mozzarella), hummus to dip, carrots and celery sticks. Small chocolate bar for dessert. Served with water to drink.

The fruit-loving kid:

Lots of sliced banana, strawberries, grapes and blueberries. A large serving of low fat yogurt, graham crackers, cubed cheese (such as mild cheddar and mozzarella) and a small portion of chocolate chips for dessert. Served with milk to drink.

The kid that dislikes sandwiches:

Thankfully, the idea of bento boxed lunches are perfect for kids that do not care for sandwiches. Roll a few pieces of lunch meat, cube some cheeses and add some grapes and voila! A super- easy, well- balanced bento box- style lunch for every type of kid.

The kid that dislikes everything:

I have a few of these types of kids myself, so I know your struggle. I have found that bento box lunches work the best for the pickiest of kids. Simply fill the bento box lunch kit with their favorite foods, with one new addition every day. For example, say your child loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and carrots. Every day you can serve the same meal but add one new food item every day, such as sliced cucumber, broccoli florets or even jicama!

We hope you’ve enjoyed these great bento box recipes. Head over to Zulily’s Kitchen & Dining section to scoop up the best daily deals while they last.

About The Author

Desiree Eaglin

Desiree Eaglin of The Funny Mom Blog knows that motherhood *requires* funny. You can catch her mom-hacking her way through her life in Southern California with her four loud and rowdy (yet amazingly funny and talented) children. When Desiree isn't writing about her family's adventures, she is cooking up a storm in the kitchen or hanging with her friends. You can follow her Funny Mom adventures on her website and on Insta @DesireeEaglin. Stay Funny my friends!

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