Deliciously healthy bento box packed with yummy foods. Picture: Instagram.
Deliciously healthy bento box packed with yummy foods. Picture: Instagram.

Kids bento box ideas to make lunchtime fun

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Jan 10, 2021

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Of Japanese origin, bento boxes date back to the 12th century and would traditionally consist of rice, meat and pickled vegetables. In modern times, the compact containers consist of several compartments and layers, storing multiple meals in one neat lunch box.

Fresh fruit on mini skewers, dainty sandwiches cut into shapes and veggies with googly eyes, the bento boxes of today are perfect for parents looking for exciting ways to make mealtimes more fun for kids. Whether your child is a picky eater or tends to forget about their sarmies as soon as the jungle gym is in sight, this unique way of packing lunches will have them eager to eat everyday.

Crazy cartoons

With a little creativity, bentos can be elaborately arranged in a style called "kyaraben" ("character bento"). Hello Kitty, Paw Patrol and many other of your kids favourite cartoons can feature at mealtime with the range of bento merchandise available. However, if you don't mind partaking in DIY projects, you can also shape food into characters, use sauces, condiments and other foods in varying colours and textures to add more detail.

Fun shapes

Cookie cutters can do more than just shape cookies, you can punch out the most imaginative shapes from fruits like watermelon, pineapples and kiwi. Present all the shapes on mini skewers for convenient snacking alternating between different shapes and colours. If you would like to go the extra mile, sprinkle a little edible glitter over top for a magical finish.

Cute utensils

Sometimes half of the fun in eating comes from how the food is eaten. From slurping spaghetti to clutching a juicy burger and biting in, there are ways to make eating food appealing to kids. Reusable food picks with cartoon characters are perfect for foods like meatballs and falafel, pretzels, raisins and other finger foods can be portioned out in cupcake holders, meat and veggie can be placed on skewers for easy eating and chopsticks for sushi.

Use the compartments

The different compartments inside of a bento box are meant to keep food separate. So, instead of sending your child off to school with a cooler bag of containers, you can use just one instead. Sweet treats and savoury snacks like chips and fruit can go in the smaller containers whilst the bulk of the meal - cars, protein and veg and be stored in the bigger half. It also helps you, as a parent, achieve good portion control for your child and entice you to experiment with a broader variety of flavours and dishes.

Wraps, rolls and everything in between

Although practical, modern bento boxes are all about being innovative. That ham and cheese sandwich and be transformed into a ham and cheese roll-up using the same ingredients. The same can be said for wraps, why not turn them into sushi with the wrap serving as seaweed? You can even serve it with a yummy dipping sauce on the side and chopsticks for authenticity.

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