“Awhile back, I saw that Jenn was posting some amazing pictures of her kid’s lunches on facebook in an album titled “obento”. I have been hounding her for a good while to write a blog to explain to me all about it. She finally gave in. :-) I am just in awe! I want to be a bento-box-lunch-making-momma when I grow up! What a cool way to make food exciting and healthy for kids.” -Val “Busy Mom Gets Fit”
Jenn’s Bento Blog:
In the last year or so I’ve been searching for healthier food options for my family I have a child with an ADHD diagnosis. Raw whole foods benefit her behavior and thinking processes.My focus has been to reduce or eliminate high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and preservatives, and other various chemicals. It’s not an easy feat, and it does pose a challenge when it comes to school lunches.
Last summer, my friend came across some blogs on bento boxes. She thought they were cute, practical, and an interesting new take on lunches. I can’t tell you how many times my kids would be bored with their lunches, tired of peanut butter and jelly in baggies and pre-packaged orange crackers. Not only that, but my girls would come home starving because they didn’t want to eat the school lunch! Wasted food = wasted time and money! Other times, I’m plain out of ideas for good lunches! Does any of this sound familiar to you? I quickly decided to give bento a shot.
What is bento?
Bento, or obento, is a Japanese-styled home-packed lunch. Traditionally, this will include rice, fish or some type of meat, and a vegetable. There are many practical and cute bento-style lunch boxes out there with a range of price tags. A quick internet search will have you adding many to your wish lists. Easily, www.amazon.com has many of my personal favorites! Bento boxes are a kind of sectioned box, or multiple boxes that stack or pair together. You can find the basic idea at any grocery store or super center now. Ziploc has come out with a sectioned, reusable container that is very similar to a Lunchables container. Target had some great containers with built in ice-packs in the lids! It’s become pretty popular in the United States in the last couple years. Bento can also be quite elaborate in design, creating themes or characters out of the food itself!
For my family, bento isn’t about rice and fish. The point of our bento boxes are pretty simple.
This eliminates waste, like all those plastic baggies.
This is a big one. My kids don’t need a large meal at lunch time.
My kids are a little, okay… very picky, so if their lunches are packed up in a pretty little display, they are more likely to eat it.
I also have the option, with the containers, of sending them with foods that I wouldn’t be able to send in plastic baggies, like dinner leftovers. With the bento containers, I can easily pack whole, raw foods for my kids to enjoy at lunch time, which is a huge relief to know they are eating WELL!
We take it a step further in our house. It’s not just about the lunch container, it’s about the food! There are so many fun accessories and ways to jazz up lunch these days, it‘s easy to get excited over them! Rice molds allow you to make a variety of shapes and images out of sticky rice. Anything from penguins to teddy bear faces. Egg molds shape hard boiled eggs into things like cars, rabbits, fish, and also teddy bear faces. Sauce bottles hold all condiments from mayo and ranch to ketchup and soy sauce. Weiner cutters (which I have yet to try) shape hot dogs into octopi and other cool items. What kid wouldn’t want to eat that? Small vegetable/fondant/cookie cutters make for a great way to jazz up vegetables, cheese, bread, and fruit. These make great, visually appealing, bite-size morsels for the kids. To make it more fun, I include a set of wooden chopsticks each day for them to eat their lunches with. Silicone (think reusable) or disposable cupcake liners are great for separating foods as well. The cutters and cupcake liners can be found at any local craft store and are very inexpensive.
Bento sauce bottles
Getting the kids involved. Shopping for bento boxes.
What has been my experience with packing my kid’s lunches this way?
They are excited for their lunches each new day! They eat their food! There is less waste, and they are eating better because I have the ability to pack a variety of foods in a versatile container. They love to pick out their lunches at the store too! And by the way, who says bentos are just for kids? They’re not, so pack yourself a lunch the next time you’re packing your kids’ and ask yourself what you could to do enjoy it a little more! -Jenn Lamb