bento box ideas

Kids and grown-ups love them: 11 super-simple Bento box ideas

Bethany Ramos DIY, Family Fun, Food, Lifestyle, Organizing

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Reading Time: 4 minutes
Jan. 30, 2018.

Bring a Bento box to work, or pack one for your kid to save time and keep school lunches organized, and you’ll get this a lot: What’s a Bento box? And how is it different from a regular sack lunch?

Bento basics: Where to begin

Bento boxes are trending here in our Western world, but they’ve been around for thousands of years in Japan. For lovers of Bento, the appeal of the compartmentalized lunch box isn’t just creativity (though as you’ll see in our “best of” Bentos below, there’s plenty of that too). For most parents and office workers, Bento boxes offer convenient, nutritionally-balanced, good-looking portions that are easy to transport. Compared to ziplock and paper bags traditionally used in sack lunches, taking a Bento box also helps to cut down on unnecessary waste.

There’s also the financial benefit. Packing a waste-free lunch, a.k.a. a reusable Bento box, for yourself or your child could save you up to $250 per year.

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Bentos are popular for a reason — but it helps to lay a few ground rules before you pack. Most Bento boxes include:

  • A variety of different foods organized in different compartments.
  • A balanced ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
  • Limited unhealthy foods and sugary treats.
  • Food that can be left out at room temperature for a few hours and/or with an ice pack.

It also helps to remember that the first rule about Bento boxes is that there are no rules. They come in handy for lunch, but you can pack them full of kid-friendly snacks to take on a trip to the park or on a road trip. And don’t forget to bring a healthy bento for yourself on a long plane ride or to keep you from getting hangry on an afternoon of errands.

These 11 Bento box ideas will make tomorrow’s lunch a treat

Whether for your kids or for yourself, these trending Bento box ideas will get the stomach rumbling and the creative juices flowing:

1. Breakfast on-the-run

Bento box ideas


You’ll thank your past self for packing this breakfast Bento the night before when you’re running with your kids to the bus stop.

2. Classic and healthy

Bento box ideas


An old favorite with all your kiddo’s favorite food groups. Bonus points for using a cookie-cutter to decorate a wrap or sandwich.

3. Character pizza

Bento box ideas


It’s a proven fact: Kids are more likely to eat adorable food that makes them smile.

4. Cute quesadillas

Bento box ideas


Before Bento, you may not have known how many funny faces you could make with the food your family eats.

5. Deconstructed sushi

Bento box ideas


Sushi makes for a tasty traditional Bento. But deconstructed sushi keeps you guessing.

6. Last night’s leftovers

Bento box ideas

Amancay Maahs/Flickr

Because it would be a crime to let good macaroni go to waste.

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7. Mini sandwiches

Bento box ideas


For those mornings when you feel like you’re in the running for Parent of the Year.

8. Power protein

Bento box ideas


To support a full day of learning, or to grab for post-workout recovery, this high-protein Bento is served with a peanut butter, banana, and hemp protein smoothie.

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9. Rainbow

Bento box ideas


Healthy and vegan, this rainbow Bento box is (almost) too pretty to eat.

10. Sandwich rolls

Bento box ideas


For award-winning parenting on a time crunch, try simplified sandwich rolls with googly eyes.

11. Star Wars sticky rice

Bento box ideas


For the creative types (and the Star Wars fans), this slightly-more-complicated Bento is well worth the effort.

With a beautiful Bento box packed and ready to go, you’re doing your part to reduce the 20 million sandwich bags thrown away from school lunches each year. While you’re at it, cut the time waste on your mortgage. Download LoanFly, plug in your numbers, and get prequalified for a house in minutes.*

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For educational purposes only. Please contact a qualified professional for specific guidance.

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