Lunch box ideas and Bentos!

Well this is a new and exciting endeavor for me. My little Kirsten is starting Junior Kindergarten in 2 days and I now get to start packing her lunches for school. Colour me happy. She will be going all day, Monday to Friday. Her school presents a few challenges. One is that it is peanut/nut free. That means she needs to say goodbye to her precious peanut butter sandwiches. The other challenge is that they don’t have 1 lunch break with a couple snack breaks. They have 2 ‘nutrition breaks’ each day and that’s it. That means that I have to pack her 2 of these bentos each day, but not with as much food as you would normally see. My four year old just doesn’t need two jam-packed bento boxes each day. The only boxes I have right now are these awesome lock-and-locks with 4 dividers. I absolutely love them. I’ve also ordered some two-tier bentos, but they haven’t arrived yet. I’m hoping when I get the two-tiered bentos that they will be big enough to pack her entire day’s worth of food in each layer. We’ll see.

To help give me some inspiration and ideas when making her lunches I created a lunch ideas PDF. I wanted to include foods that were healthy, and that Kirsten actually likes. If your child has different likes/dislikes you can add to the list or remove stuff. I’m pretty happy with the variety I have on it. Of course, these are just cold lunch box/bento ideas. You can always pack a thermos with hot food in it, which I will do sometimes too. They’re just not as cute!

Here’s what the printable PDF looks like:

Click here to get a printable/downloadable copy for yourself.

I printed this out and have it on my fridge so I have easy access to it when I’m making her lunches.

This will be the first time Kirsten is eating out of a lunch box, so I’ve been making her practice school bentos all week to get her used to opening/closing containers and wrappers. She’s done really well and just loves the new lunches I’ve been making her.

Without further ado, here are some of the practice bentos I’ve made this week.

This first one would be perfect for her morning nutrition break. I cut half a banana, and just started to peel it on the back side. That way she can easily peel it herself when she’s ready to eat it. There’s a strawberry nutrigrain bar cut in half so it will fit in the container and a container of yogurt with a fruit leather bear. When I pack these in her lunch bag, I’ll wrap the yogurt in tin foil or something so it doesn’t spill.

This next one will be great for an afternoon nutrition break. There’s cold pasta salad made with ‘butterfly’ pasta, a little italian dressing, peas and parmesan cheese. A sliced nectarine with a cute pick and a couple graham crackers with fruit leather and sprinkle flowers.

This would be another great bento for her afternoon nutrition break. There’s turkey bologna roll-ups, baby carrots, a box of raisins, and a couple crackers with bunny-shaped cheese.

Here’s another great one for her morning nutrition break. Homemade chocolate zucchini bread, unsweetened strawberry kiwi applesauce with sprinkles and a yogurt drink. You can freeze the yogurt drinks to keep the lunch cold.

This is a great fall bento for her afternoon nutrition break. A turkey bologna sandwich cut into oak leaf with a cheese oak leaf on top. I used a food safe marker to draw on the face. Mini cheddar rice cakes and unsweetened applesauce with fall leaf sprinkles. I’ll wrap the applesauce in tin foil when I pack it in her lunch bag.

I don’t know if your kiddos will eat cold pasta, but mine will. I made butterfly pasta with sausages and my homemade sauce. A sliced cheesestring with a fruit leather tomatoe and a side of peas. You can put frozen peas in the lunch box (just run them under hot water for a second to start them defrosting), and they’ll help keep the lunch cool and will be defrosted by lunch time.

Here’s some links to some of the things I used to make these bentos:

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26 thoughts on “Lunch box ideas and Bentos!

  1. Maeve's Momma

    My daughter likes Sunflower butter, which is totally nut free and tastes almost just like it. Target carries it, and I bet most grocery stores do, too. We use the Sun Butter brand, they even have a peanut butter style. And it still has lots of protein!

  2. dawn

    So happy to see all these ideas, you totally rock the packing lunch role!! She will love these ideas but warn her of the other kids who are going to beg her to trade with them, lol these are all so cute and healthy for her.
    Don’t forget to pack her a little love note from you wishing her a happy day. Kids love that.

    The one special thing I do for my kids lunches on their bdays is to make a “birthday lunch”. I wrap up all their food in tissue paper and put confetti and ribbons and bows in their lunch and a birthday card from me. I know Kristen has a summer bday I think? so you could do this on her half birthday. My kids always act surprised and thank me later when they get home. One year for my daughter’s 10th bday I snuck in a musical bday card to her teacher and at exactly 9:36 a.m. he gave her the card and everyone sang to her for me. It made her day more special. Good luck in 2 days.
    HUGS dawn

  3. Mindy

    My oldest is starting kindergarten tomorrow – I love the idea of packing in a bento box everyday. I need to get my butt in gear and get some of those! Your trial runs are super cute!!! We do fun lunches every Friday now after seeing yours for the first time months ago. I’m anxious to see more ideas for carrying that tradition over into a lunch box.

  4. Cassandra

    I cannot even tell you how helpful this is to me. I’ve been skimming through your crafting blogs and then my email was like, “oh hey, by the way, she writes on other stuff, too– like these AMAZING lunch ideas!” You’ve helped me out so much, please keep doing what you’re doing :)

  5. Tanya

    Great ideas! I’ve spent all week trying to come up with the perfect snack for Josh’s first day. *sniffle*.

    We have to go nut free, too, but we tried WOW butter this summer and it’s an excellent peanut butter substitute. So far, even hubby hasn’t noticed that it’s not regular PB. Comes in smooth and crunchy, available at Loblaws (et al) stores.

  6. Cassandra

    I’m having trouble finding the tupperware with removable compartments as shown in your pictures. I’ve looked up lock & locks, and I’ve looked up bento box, and I’ve looked up these two things together, but no results showed what you have. Could you post a link or post a tip on where to find them (unless I’m being a total dork and just not seeing them and they can be bought somewhere easy like the grocery store)?

  7. Jill

    Thank-you so much everyone!

    Cassandra – I haven’t been able to find them in any stores, so I ended up buying them from Amazon. There’s a link to the ones I bought (3.6 cup size) at the end of this post. I hope that helps!

  8. Kelly Polizzi

    these are so adorable! i have your ideas list on my refrigerator and have been referring to it for inspiration! thanks so much. Can you tell me what that cute font is you used?

  9. Alie

    I am so glad that someone posted about your blog on FB! My daughter loves bento boxes and will start Kindergarten next year so this is perfect! Please keep the ideas coming!

  10. Little Wife Power House...

    What great ideas! I’m so glad I found your blog again!! You make lunch pretty and fun for kiddos! The links at the bottom aren’t showing up for me for some reason…looking for the detachable tupperware :) Thanks again for all of the great ideas!

  11. visit website

    Japanese are so good at making creative things, but seriously how could you eat that after so much effort and time went in making with designed.There are so many ideas here & i love your style!


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