If you have a little one in the house, you probably know how difficult it is to prepare meals and snacks they’ll actually eat and enjoy—especially if you have a picky eater on your hands! Kids are an energetic bunch and, chances are, they’re going to be testing the durability of any lunchbox you hand them. When it comes time to send them off to kindergarten, how will they be able to enjoy the wide variety of snacks you packed them if they’re all wildly tossed about in a paper bag?
Kindergartners prefer their meal to be in one piece by lunchtime. To avoid smushed sandwiches and grapes that have been smothered to the point they’re halfway to grape juice, consider investing in a bento box for your child. Bento boxes aren’t just a great way to keep lunch from getting mangled—they can encourage healthy eating habits by presenting children with a small sampling of different nutritious foods.
While bento has its roots in Japanese culture, these handy boxes have since made their way to the West. Portable, durable, and often beautiful, they’ve become coveted lunch containers for kids and adults alike. A well-made bento box can keep a meal fresh and unharmed during the hours between packing it and eating it.
Why should I use a bento box for packing my child’s lunches?
When you’re shopping around for back-to-school supplies, equipping your child with a brand new bento box is a wonderful opportunity to express how much you care. You’ll get to be the cool parent who strategically packs their kindergartner expertly-chosen fresh picks for lunch instead of two bags of cheese puffs and a can of soda.
I can’t think of anything better than being offered several different foods of varying flavors and textures at lunchtime. For the kindergartner, exposure to a sampling of foods demonstrates the importance of eating a balanced diet. They will come to love the different cheeses, crackers, and fruits that you’ll pack them for lunch.
If healthy eating has been difficult for your little guy or gal, consider strategically adding fun-shaped foods or snacks to the box so they don’t lose interest in their lunches. Bento boxes offer them a visually appealing display of the day’s spread, instead of a dark and mysterious lunch pail.
What features should a bento box for kindergartners have?
Bento boxes come in many shapes and sizes, so be sure to choose one that will suit your kindergartner well. Let them pick out their favorite color while you select a size that won’t overwhelm them come lunchtime. Here are some cool features to think about as you shop around.
#1. Durability is critical!
Bento boxes for kindergarten lunch should always be durable. I’ve never met a kindergartner who was known exclusively for their daintiness and careful handling of lunchboxes.
A bento box made of high-quality, BPA-free plastic will likely be the best option for your kindergartner. Plastic is easy to care for and maintain, and is less likely to break if the bento box takes a spill onto the lunchroom floor. Plastic is also a good choice because it’s usually lighter than its glass or stainless steel counterparts.
#2. A good box can help you keep things organized.
Arguably, the best feature of a bento box is its ability to keep different foods separate from the rest. This is especially useful for kids who don’t like their foods mixing together. No more wasted food just because the pretzel salt contaminated the peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
A bento box that has snapping sides might also be ideal for the kindergartner who has a tendency to jumble things around or drop their lunch. The snaps makes sure the contents stay put.
Another excellent selling point of a top-notch bento box is a space where you can attach miniature travel utensils. Sometimes these can be snapped into place on the inside of the box, which makes them less likely to get misplaced by the little rascal who can’t seem to remember where he or she left the teddy bear last night!
#3. Get the right size.
A quality bento box will come with enough headroom for any taller items you might want to pack in your kindergartner’s lunch, such as half a deli sandwich, a slice of cornbread, or onigiri. Not many people love squished sandwiches, and kids shouldn’t have to be confined to flat foods for the whole year. (A single slice of bologna between two slices of white bread gets boring in a hurry!)
In the same light, there should be enough room to accommodate a balanced selection of items for lunch without being too bulky. After all, your child does have to carry their lunch box to and from class. Try to find a model that can fit in a small backpack—we don’t want anyone losing their lunch on the ride to school!
Some bento boxes have dual layers, which can be helpful for packing something like a sandwich underneath the snack foods. They are bulkier, so layered boxes might be better for those outings where Mom or Dad comes along.
#4. Planning ahead.
As lunch is a few hours away from the time you packed the bento box, you might want to consider a box that comes with a compartment for ice packs, or a model that can be slipped inside an insulated container. Nothing is worse than a hot cup of pudding after a long morning of learning the ABCs.
If you keep those attributes in mind, you’ll have no problem finding the box that perfectly fits your needs. Although they’re great for anyone’s lunch, your kindergartner will especially appreciate being sent off to school with a bento box full of nutritious food that will keep them energized all afternoon!