bento box ideas

7 super-simple Bento box ideas + 8 more out-of-the-box kids’ lunches

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

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The first rule about lunch prep is that there are no rules. Bento boxes are a popular pick for school lunch, or you can stick with reusable lunch bags, an old favorite. Pack them full of kid-friendly snacks to take to the park. Don’t forget to bring a healthy meal to keep the hangries away on a road trip or an afternoon of errands.

Lunch prep not only saves time and money — it cuts down on unnecessary waste. Depending on the lunch you pick, it could even be entertaining.

Plan ahead: 15 fun ways to make tomorrow’s lunch a treat

Let’s start with the Bento.

Bento boxes are trending 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 reduce needless waste.

Feast your eyes on seven of our favorites:

1. Breakfast on-the-run.

kids lunch prep

skyebox_lunchbox/Instagram

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

2. Classic and healthy.

Bento box ideas

littlemissmidorimeals/Instagram

Set up some timeless treats 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

bentosforbug/Instagram

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

4. Cute quesadillas.

Bento box ideas

lunchesandbentos/Reddit

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

5. Deconstructed sushi.

kids lunch prep

bentoholicmomma/Instagram

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

6. Mini sandwiches.

Bento box ideas

Melissa/Flickr

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

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7. Rainbow.

Bento box ideas

bentoparty/Instagram

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

There are also financial benefits, whether you’re prepping a Bento or packing a lunch in a reusable container. Packing a waste-free lunch for your child could save you over $300 per school year.

Here are another eight trending lunch prep ideas to get stomachs growling:

8. Bread-less sandwiches.

kids lunch prep

jennifer.e.crawford/Instagram

Forgo the bread or bun and roll cheese, lettuce, and your condiments of choice into a slice of deli meat. Now you have yourself a rollup.

9. DIY Lunchables.

kids lunch prep

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To please the Lunchables lover in your life: Serve up crackers and sliced or cubed cheese and meat, along with goodies like fresh berries, mini muffins, trail mix, or fruit snacks.

10. Deconstructed nachos.

kids lunch prep

rsrloves/Instagram

Tortilla chips plus portions of shredded cheese, chicken, and lettuce; diced tomatoes; sliced avocados; and beans equals a satisfying nacho knock-off your kids will beg for.

11. Eggs n’ waffles.

kids lunch prep

bakingbridgestx/Instagram

Hardboil 3 to 4 eggs and make the same amount of waffles. Pack the eggs whole and slice the waffles length-wise into easy-to-eat sticks. (Or use a waffle stick pan to make it easy.)

12. Hummus plate.

kids lunch prep

thevinportal/Instagram

With the vast amount of hummuses (hummi?) that are now available, you’re sure to find something to please even the pickiest eater. Pack with carrots, pita triangles, or whole-grain crackers.

13. Kitchen sink wraps.

kids lunch prep

shielamarin/Instagram

Here’s what to do when you need to prep a lunch last-minute: Wrap up everything but the kitchen sink — a handy way to use up leftovers like roast chicken and rice.

14. Pigs in a blanket.

kids lunch prep

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Make ’em the old fashioned way, or use baby carrots as pigs to squeeze in some extra veggies.

15. Smoothie bowl.

kids lunch prep

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Load up a plastic cup (with a lid) with everything you’d find inside a kid-friendly smoothie — like sliced bananas and strawberries, greek yogurt, a dollop of peanut or almond butter, honey, and a handful of chocolate chips.

While you’re at it, why not cut down on mortgage waste?

You’re already doing your part to reduce the 67 pounds of annual waste produced by every child who brings a brown bag lunch to school.* How about doing the same for your mortgage? Download LoanFly to eliminate time waste and unnecessary paperwork. Plug in your numbers and prequalify for a new home in minutes.

*“Ten Ways to Unpackage Your Life.” EPA, 2020.

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

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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