My daughter is only 4, so we have another year until she starts school. But I still pack her lunch for daycare every day. One
of the easiest ways to make sure she has a healthy lunch is to use a Japanese-style bento box.
Lila has used the same bento box for the past three years—I secretly love to use it too (it's the ultimate portion-control
tool). The stainless-steel container is divided in quarters. When she was younger, she ate mostly finger food, so I put
different chopped things in each section.
Now that she's older, the division still holds true. Even if I pack a sandwich in a separate baggie, her box still prompts me
to put fruit and veggies in each day. I usually add a little ranch-style dip or hummus for dipping the veggies. Fruit often
spills into two of the spots.
Are you ready to bento? Here are 5 tips
to pack a bento-style lunch:
• Pick your container: Bento boxes come in styles for all ages. Basic reusable food-storage containers work well too.
• Get creative: Sandwiches and wraps work in a bento, but don't forget less-typical lunch fare, such as roasted tofu, rice
balls or pasta salad.
• Think colorful: Typically a bento contains at least five different colors—fill yours with a variety of fruits and
• Pack efficiently: Pack foods in small containers to control portion size and use reusable silicone cupcake liners or even
lettuce leaves to keep foods separated.
• Keep it cool: Refrigerate or pack the box in an insulated lunchbox with a freezer pack.
Here are 4 bento-style lunches to get
Pizza Roll-Up Bento
Lunch: This easy pizza-inspired roll-up is a kid-pleaser. Make crunchy vegetables more appealing by selecting
colorful varieties like orange and purple cauliflower—and don't forget the dip! Keep 'em smiling with watermelon cut
into fun shapes with cookie cutters.
Salmon Salad Bento
Lunch: Watercress acts as a tasty divider between the salmon salad and crackers. Multicolored peppers and grapes
add color to this bento and boost your daily servings of fruits and veggies.
Soy-Lime Tofu & Rice
Bento Lunch: Tofu, rice and vegetables are classic bento ingredients. Make extra rice for dinner and roll leftovers
into balls for lunch. To keep green veggies vibrant and crisp, cook them briefly and immediately dunk them into a bowl
of ice water. You can also use cubed store-bought baked tofu in place of the roasted tofu.
Egg Salad Bento Lunch: This
egg salad bento box is a hearty lunch and snack all in one. Spoon the egg salad into a lettuce "bowl" and enjoy with
cocktail bread and veggies. Toss banana and blueberries with yogurt to keep the bananas from turning brown. Save the
chocolate chips and pistachios for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Sources for our favorite bento boxes: bentology.com