It’s that time of year again; kids are donning new threads and fresh kicks, accessorizing with their carefully chosen colorful backpack. Parents everywhere are rejoicing that the school year is back in swing.

Like all good things, summer must come to an end. And when it does, kids are headed back to school where they need daily sustenance to keep their energy up. Now that they are back in school, how can you guarantee that they are eating healthy foods that they enjoy while also getting a variety of nutrients?

One thing that has become increasingly popular over the last year or two that solves this dilemma is the bento box style lunchbox. These lunchboxes are inspired by the Japanese Bento box – a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal that typically contains meat, rice, and some sort of vegetable. The container is one large box with smaller boxes or compartments inside.

Benefits

There are several benefits to the bento box style lunch. One is that you can easily vary the items in the lunch while making sure to provide all the elements of a well-rounded lunch. You can essentially make your own lunchable, but with less sugar and processed foods. The containers are already broken into portion sizes, making it that much easier to figure out how much of each item to provide.

One of the best things about bento box style lunches is that you can get creative with what you are packing and mix it up every day. Instead of packing the same thing every day, select three or four items one day and then pick different items the next day. To ensure it is a balanced lunch, make sure to include a protein, a fruit, a vegetable, and a small treat.

Bento Box Ideas

Here are some easy to compile individual items that you can include in a bento box lunch.

Protein / main

  • Pasta salad
  • Cheese cubes
  • Turkey and cheese rollup
  • Tuna salad sandwich
  • Chicken salad whole wheat pita
  • Whole wheat peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt

Fruits

  • Grapes
  • Berry medley (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • Strawberries
  • Orange slices
  • Apple slices
  • Watermelon slices
  • Pineapple chunks

Vegetables

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Baby carrots
  • Celery
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Sliced bell peppers

Treats

  • Fig cookies
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Pudding cup
  • Popcorn
  • Tortilla chips and salsa
  • Pita chips and guacamole

You can make any combination you want using the items above (and more!). Here are a few combinations to get you started:

  • Turkey and cheese rollup + baby carrots and hummus + berry medley
  • Pasta salad + cheddar cheese cubes + cucumber slices + pudding cup
  • Whole wheat peanut butter and jelly sandwich + tortilla chips and salsa + watermelon chunks
  • Chicken salad pita + cottage cheese and pineapple + bell pepper strips

Don’t worry, this idea can be easily adapted for adults. If you want to start eating healthier at work, try the bento box idea by picking your favorite protein, fruits, and veggies to bring for lunch to get a more balanced meal. There are some neat bento box containers geared towards adults that you can find on Amazon or eBay.

In addition to eating healthy, make sure to keep flossing and brushing every day! Good luck to all the students heading back to school; we hope you have a great school year!