Easy Bento Box Ideas for Kids (and adults)
Bento boxes are becoming more and more popular in the search for fun, healthy, creative ways to pack and serve lunch. Bento boxes are not only cute, they are extremely versatile, too. Here I will tell you my favorites things to cook in advance and what items I like to keep on hand to serve up a yummy bento box in no time.
First, a little bit about bento boxes.
They originated in Japan in the 16th century, but are still very popular to this day and gaining popularity in the US. There are all kinds of bento boxes, but most that I have seen and bought are two-tiered. Usually the smaller of the two tiers is packed with rice, noodles, or some form of grain or starch. The larger tier is packed with proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
Second, a few guidelines for bento-ing
- No ice packs. The food that you pack in a bento is meant to be eaten at room temperature.
- Because it is room temperature, use small portions. Hot food that is cooled down only tastes good for a few bites.
- Variety – use 2-4 different foods for the larger tier. It makes for a more interesting looking and tasting lunch.
- No liquids. Most bento boxes are not air tight and we don’t want any messes!
Foods to keep on hand for quick bento-ing
- cherry tomatoes
- pretty much any other fruit or vegetable that you like (remember, nothing that contains liquid).
- leftovers from dinner
There are quite a few recipes you can make ahead of time and freeze in small portions to pull out whenever you need a little extra to fill out your box (recipes coming soon)
- mini meatballs
- soboro (ground pork served over plain rice)
- any leftovers from dinner that are freezable
Now let’s take everything we’ve learned and put it all together
In this bento, I used fried rice in the bottom tier. For the top tier I used leftover fried chicken, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and grapes. The little panda container has ranch dressing in it. (You can find really cute condiment containers online).
Here, I used steamed medium grain rice, topped with tuxedo sesame seeds. The top tier has leftover pork chop, lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and grapes.
This one has steamed medium grain rice with soboro on top. The top tier has 2 mini beef meatballs, 2 mini potato balls with cheese, grapes, and a tangerine. This one was made for my picky eater who refuses to eat anything green. And no, I don’t mean my daughter…
And there you have it! Super easy bento box ideas for kids and adults! Once you figure out all of the different foods you like that are bento-able, the possibilities are endless!