Remember sack lunches growing up? You’d unroll your brown bag to find a white bread PB&J, maybe a fruit cup, a squeezable neon green beverage. And if you got a prepackaged snack cake, you were the envy of the rest of your lunch table. These days, we want our kids to have healthier choices while they’re at school or daycare, and we want them to enjoy their food, too. Enter bento boxes, the fun way to serve a healthy, satisfying, and fun lunch on the go.
What Are Bento Boxes?
Bento boxes originated in Japan as a way to take lunch during the workday or school day. They typically have separated sections for a larger main course with smaller sections for sides.
Today, you can find bento boxes in any configuration you can dream up: toddler-sized, grown-up sized, stackable, leak-proof, sections for hot and cold food … the possibilities are endless.
The days of boring kid lunches are over. There are endless combinations for fun bento boxes for kids (and adults alike) for lunches, snacks, and everything in between. Use whatever sized containers make sense for your child (smaller for younger kids, larger for older kids) and pack accordingly. Below are some ideas for the best bento boxes that even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy!
The best part of bento lunches is that there are no rules. But a few tips can ensure that you get the most out of your lunchbox efforts.
Bento lunches should be:
- Balanced. To be filling, you’ll want to include protein and fat, with an amount of carbohydrates that fits into your current plan (less for keto, more for Primal).
- Packable. Make sure your lunch will hold up for a few hours. Will your contents turn to mush? Will your food items taste funny at room temperature? Will the box you pack in the morning make it until lunch? (Those sashimi bento boxes look pretty, but to avoid foodborne illness they’re meant to be eaten right after you assemble them.)
- Beautiful. Traditional bento boxes combine a variety of colors and shapes to make a visually striking eating experience.
Kids’ (or Grown-ups!) Bento Box Lunch Ideas
Use these as inspiration to kickstart your creativity.
Picky eater tip: if you’re introducing a new food, be sure to include a food they like along with it!
Chicken Salad Lunch Kit
Chicken Salad, Homemade Almond Crackers, Grass-fed Cheese Cubes, Baby Carrots Sliced Cucumbers
Chicken Salad Recipe
In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ham, Salami or Pepperoni, Cheese Sticks, Baby Peppers, Hard Boiled Eggs, Sliced Apple, Primal Kitchen Creamy Ranch Dressing
This is a perfect lunch plate that can be made ahead of time. For tips on making the best hard and softboiled eggs, refer to our Perfect Egg Tutorial.
Sweet Snacker Bento
Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries (stuffed with dark chocolate chips), Paleo or Gluten-Free Granola, Protein-boosted Yogurt
Chocolate Protein Grass-fed Yogurt Recipe
In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, protein powder and vanilla extract. Pour into the bento box and top with a drizzle of almond butter and some paleo granola or crumbled freeze-dried fruit.
Snack Attack Bento Box
Mixed Nuts and Freeze-Dried Raspberries, Sliced Cucumber, Flackers® Crackers, Avocado, Baby Carrots, Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing