You don't need a bento box to make these lunches but I got these at Planet Box and love them because their super eco-friendly. All I have to do is give them a quick wash and dry. Plus they keep each of the food compartments nice and tight so food doesn't touch or spill onto each other. I make my lunches the night before (except when cutting up certain fruits like apples that will brown, adding things that are frozen or if I need to heat something up). It saves me time in the morning because we're always rushing out the door. My kids also don't care for the traditional sandwich and are restricted from anything with peanuts at school, which makes it a challenge for me to come up with new and interesting ideas. Enjoy these and please share some of yours!
Monday - Tip, everything doesn't have to be from scratch!
Mini croissant ham sandwich (with nothing else so it doesn't get soggy)
Sliced sharp cheddar cheese
Fruit medley of raspberries, honeydew and cantaloupe
Cucumber spears and edamame
A Yakult - probiotic yogurt (I swear this keeps them from getting sick)
A thin mint cookie to start off the week with a little treat
Tuesday - Tip, re-use left-overs!
Pesto pasta and little pigs in a blanket (left over from dinner last night)
I make my own pesto and refrigerate it for weeks. I'm a big fan of Ina Garten's recipe because she uses walnuts and pine nuts and I think it gives it a richer flavor - recipe here
Cut up watermelon
Half a frozen greek yogurt (which I'll add in the a.m. so it's nice and cold come lunch)
Cheesy crunchy kale chips (that I bought from Whole Foods) If you want to make your own, they aren't that difficult and I love anything from nom nom paleo - recipe here
Wednesday - Tip, make food fun and colorful!
Ham and cream cheese roll-ups
String cheese octopus and multigrain cracker - to make the octopus, just cut a string cheese in half and make a cross in the bottom with a knife and split through in half to make 8 tentacles.
Grapes and blackberries
Thursday - Tip, I try my best to include all the basic food groups - at least one protein, dairy, fruit, veggie and a carb. As I'm rifling through my fridge, it makes it easy to add stuff if you think this way!
Beef teriyaki (left over from last night's dinner - recipe here)
Onigiri and Crispy Nori - Rice balls and seaweed (you can make these easy or just put in some rice with a fork and they can scoop them into the seaweed - recipe here
Peas Mandarin orange and frozen blackberries (I add the frozen ones in the morning for a cold treat)
Cottage Cheese with honey (just make sure you cover this portion with aluminum well so that it doesn't spill all over the place and don't forget a fork!
Friday - Tip, don't waste any of your strawberries again by hulling them. I can't live without my strawberry huller because we eat them ALL the time.
Again, since my kids aren't fans of sandwiches, I'm always trying to think outside the box. Baby quiche are such an easy way to give them protein - I just microwave or toast them in the morning and wrap them up in foil so they stay warm.
Yogurt I just add to their bag because it won't fit in the bento box.
2 Ham and 2 spinach baby quiche
Crinkle carrot chips (from the grocery store already sliced)
So there you have it - one week of real lunches I made for my kids. Here's a list of other great things you can put in your kid's lunch boxes if you need ideas!
Proteins/Carbs - Deli meat roll-ups with creamed cheese - using lavash or Flat Out bread - cream cheese is better than mayo if you make it ahead of time as it won't get the bread all soggy. Deli meat and just cheese roll-ups (no bread). Deli meat, chicken salad or egg salad sandwiches with pitta bread. Mini croissant sandwiches - no mayo or mustard so they don't get soggy. Hawaiian bread sandwiches - most kids love the sweetness of this bread. Nut butter and jam sandwiches. Nut butter on a waffle. Sandwich on a stick - intermix deli meat cubes, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and bread. Pita and hummus. Mini quiches. Leftover protein like meat or chicken. Nori (seaweed) squares with rice or onigiri (rice balls). Boiled eggs. Pigs in a blanket. Grilled cheese with meat. Quesadilla with chicken. Bagel with creamed cheese and deli meat or pizza bagels. Octopus hotdogs - learn how here. Salami stacks with cheese and crackers. Beef jerky - my fave brand here.
Fruits (here's some ideas aside from normal whole fruit) - Frozen berries or grapes. Mandarin oranges from a can. Dried mango - vs fresh mango which is time consuming to cut. Any other dried fruit like dried cranberries or raisins. Applesauce.
Veggies - Cucumber spears or discs. Crinkle carrot chips. Baby carrots. Frozen corn. Kale chips. Edamame. Snap peas. Sweet peppers. Broccoli or green beans- cold broccoli is actually really good - just don't overcook your greens, keep it crisp after steaming by giving it an ice water bath to stop the cooking and keep it bright green!
Dairy - String cheese. Cut up cheese squares. Yogurt pops or yogurt parfait with granola. Yakult probiotic yogurt drink - boosts the kids immune system and keeps your kids from getting sick. BabyBel cheeses - you can make them look super cute too - link here - Laughing Cow cheese triangles. Cottage cheese and honey. American cheese slices.
Carbs/Snacks Pesto pasta with any pasta shape. Tortellini with butter and parmesan. Tortilla chips and cheese. Granola. Pretzels. Popcorn. Pirate Booty .Graham crackers. Banana bread or zuchinni mini muffins, SnapPea Crisps, Goldfish or Cheerios - although I try to avoid any processed foods. My new protein snack find - Wilde Chicken Chips available at Whole Foods.