It’s time for kids to go back to school and depending on your perspective, that can either be a good or bad thing. It may be more fun at the start of summer vacation. You take them to activities they enjoy, and spend some quality time with them. By the end of vacation, you get tired of hearing “I’m bored,” and you want to sing the Hallelujah Chorus when it’s finally time for them to start school again.
To keep kids full and focused, they need a nutritious lunch. You may have a picky kid or two that just won’t eat and that is where bento boxes come in handy. A bento box is a reusable Japanese-style lunch box that holds a single meal portion but there is room to pack several different things.
You can add whole grains, protein such as meat or beans, fruit, veggies and milk.
Here is how to pack a bento box that kids love:
The trick with packing whole grains is to make it something that kids love that is also good for them. For a fun twist pack a multi-grain pretzel. Dry cereal is easy to eat and requires no utensils.
The traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich can get a nutritional overhaul. Make this tasty treat on whole-grain bread, use a nut butter instead of peanut butter, and a fruit spread instead of jelly.
This is where you can let your imagination run wild. Cubed or string cheese is a good source of protein and it is something kids usually like. A hard-boiled egg is easy to eat and has six grams of protein. This is a bento box that lets you bump up protein and kids love finger foods.
Rice and beans are a good sandwich alternative, and how about a grilled cheese on waffles?
Cubed fruits are easy to eat and you can pack whatever fruit you have on hand. A small apple can be dipped in peanut butter for a fun treat.
Some kids will just not eat vegetables but by having some ranch or other dressing to dip in they may surprise you. Good vegetables to dip include carrot strips, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli florets. For a spicier kick, kids can also use barbecue sauce.
A lot of kids prefer soda to milk, so you need to get creative. Try offering chocolate milk. You can sneak in the nutrition by blending 8 ounces yogurt into a fruit smoothie. The yogurt has the same nutritional benefits as a cup of milk.
You have to have a nutritional treat after a meal, at least in my line of thinking. Fig cookies, fruit kabobs drizzled with dark chocolate, strawberry sundae bites, Samoa apple slices, or healthy chocolate chip cookies.
Get your kids involved with making and packing their bento box and see how many different combinations they can come up with. They are eating things that they like and you have peace of mind knowing they are eating nutritious food.