It’s no surprise that most children look forward to lunch every day. Lunchtime is an opportunity for them to recharge and socialize with family and friends.
For some toddlers, presentation is just as important as taste. So, as parents, how can we make lunches cute, colorful, and fun—especially when we are eating on-the-go?
Making sure the kids eat healthy, especially when they’re out and about, is always a challenge.
That’s why I recommend a bento box for you and your tot! Rather than resorting to fast food on those family trips, why not try something different? Preparing a bento lunch means you can make a healthy meal that will look as good as it tastes, even after being jostled around in a car!
The Beauty of Bento
A bento box is its sectioned spaces, so foods don’t mix. They are most common in Japan, where they usually hold rice, some kind of meat or fish, and vegetables.
You can almost always order a bento meal at most authentic Asian restaurants, but they have recently become popular items in kindergartens, elementary schools, and even college campuses across America.
Have you ever known the tragedy of uneaten meals because the foods accidentally touched and are now, apparently, inedible to your toddler? Have you ever spent hours filling what felt like 500 plastic snack bags for just one lunch? Do you you thrive on organization? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then a bento box is for you!
Features of a Great Bento Box for Toddlers
From small and simple, to fancy multi-tiered affairs, these portable containers are made in a huge range of sizes and shapes. A great bento box for toddlers will be small, durable, and portable. Some boxes also have cool extra features which can help make your life easier, such as silverware or leak-proof seals.
The best thing about bento boxes is their customizability. Is your child a sandwich and snacks kinda gal? Does your little guy prefer variety over quantity? There are so many different kinds of bento boxes, you’ll surely find one to fit your child’s preferences.
Ever thought of saving money by slicing your own lunch meats?
Here are my picks for kitchen meat slicers.
While fancy, multi-level bento boxes are great for us adults, they are much too large for your toddler. Look for a kid-sized box with small, but numerous, inner partitions. This will give your child the ability to choose from a variety of snacks served in small portion sizes. Keep in mind that, if you plan on packing soft baby foods or liquids, you will need a box with partitions that are leak-proof.
Young children tend to be rough on their belongings. The best bento box for toddlers will be made of a sturdy, BPA-free plastic which can withstand being dropped. Plastic boxes also tend to be dishwasher safe, unlike the wooden varieties, meaning an easier cleanup for you!
Sending your kid off to daycare? There are bento boxes that fit inside classic lunch boxes, making them easy to organize and customize. Some include trays that fit easily into colorful plastic cases, which can be carried inside a lunch box or backpack.
Also keep an eye out for models with closure snaps, which are perfect for those kiddos prone to spills and messes.
Some bento boxes for toddlers boast great extra features, such as a section for eating utensils, which is convenient for those meals away from home. Others include temperature management systems, like thermal sleeves or cooling packs. Whatever your needs are, there’s a bento box for that! The options are truly endless.
Bento on a Budget
Usually, my motto is, “you get what you pay for,” but with bento boxes you can find a quality, functional, adorable box for under $10. Combined with the money you’ll save by packing your toddler’s meals at home instead of eating out, bento is ideal for households on a budget.
With a cute bento box in hand, you’ll be well prepared for your next family outing with the kids! For some great meal ideas for children, see this post to learn where to find great, healthy recipes for even the pickiest eaters.
Sometimes getting kids to eat their veggies is all in how you slice it. Use a mandolne slicer to easily make carrot sticks, cucumber discs and more. Here’s my review of the best mandoline slicers for the money.
Lunch boxes aren’t just for kids, here’s my roundup of the best lunch containers for adults and the best lunch boxes for construction workers or if you’re looking for something insulated, I’ve got you covered.