Lunchtime can be a real challenge when you have a fussy eater on your hands. The key to overcoming this hurdle lies in presenting food in a fun and appealing way. Bento lunch boxes, originating from Japan, offer a creative and organised approach to mealtime. By incorporating a variety of colourful and nutritious ingredients, you can transform a simple lunch into an exciting culinary adventure. In this blog post, we will explore our favourite bento lunch box ideas designed specifically to please even the pickiest eaters.
Here is a list of our lunchtime household favourites:
Plain pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a side of cherry tomatoes
My youngest is currently going through a phase where all he wants to eat is pasta so this one is a treat for school lunch. At home we usually cook the rigatoni pasta however I find for the size of the school lunchbox that the shell pasta or even the kid's pasta that come in different shapes like dinosaurs etc works better in their school lunchbox. I usually cook the pasta the night before following the cooking instructions on the packet. Once the pasta has been cooked and strained I pour some olive oil over them to prevent them from sticking. Tip here is to avoid putting the pasta in the fridge overnight. Store it at room temperature. In the morning when you are preparing the lunch box add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top of the pasta you can even toss in the cherry tomatoes into the pasta however my boys prefer them on the side.
Chicken schnitzel with sliced carrots
This meal is one of the simplest yet effective ways to get your fussy eater to eat at school. We make our own using chicken tenderloins. The first step is to remove any excess bits of stringy bits on the chicken. Once I have cleaned the tenderloins, I will dip them in a bowl containing pre-beaten egg with some milk, salt and pepper. Then I will coat them in Panko breadcrumbs that has grated parmesan cheese mixed in. I tend to make large batches that way I can freeze some as well. Next step is to cook the pieces. In a fry pan add some oil and butter. Once the butter has melted over medium heat I being to shallow fry my pieces. I tend to cook the schnitzel in the mornings for freshness. My boys don’t really like many veggies but I am able to include some carrots cut into finger size strips to accompany the schnitzel.
If I am short on time during the week I often head over to Dulwich Hill Gourmet meats to pick up some of their delicious schnitzel that my boys thoroughly enjoy.
Vegemite fingers (the key here is to use special sandwich cutters to create shapes)
The most simple but effective lunch box idea when all else fails or you are too tired to prepare a cooked meal for school lunch. I usually buy thick sliced bread from Baker's Delight and butter it up followed by a nice smear of vegemite. My boys are old enough now that they don’t want me cutting their sandwiches with fancy sandwich shape cutter so just cut off the crusts and either cut the sandwich into 4 or into fingers.
Mini spanakopita (spinach Pie) or tiropita (cheese pie)
These spinach and feta or plain feta pies are a staple in our Greek household. You can find these in the frozen section of any good greengrocer or online. I get mine from Advance souvlaki here in Sydney.
Then all you must do is cook them in the oven as per the instructions on the packaging.
Soft beef taco wrap with cheese, lettuce and avocado
We usually do these after Taco night in our house. So I will run you through the prep as if I was preparing for Taco night and then you can use any leftovers to make a Taco wrap.
We like using beef mince for our base and fry this off in a pan with some oil and the premade Old El Paso Taco mix. Fry the meat till it has all browned and any water has evaporated. While the meat is cooking I usually cut up all the veggies including tomatoes, lettuce and corn (feel free to add any other veggies your kids may like). Here I also prepare my Guacamole or if don’t have time I will buy a pre made one from Harris Farms. For the homemade guacamole I usually use 2 avocadoes mashed till it becomes a nice consistency without too many lumps. Then I add in some garlic, a touch of chilli flakes, coriander, salt and pepper and some lemon and lime juice. Lastly I heat up the tortillas in the microwave so they are warm and prepare a platter with all the veggies, tortilla and some grated cheese for serving. In the morning I will fill a tortilla with these ingredients then wrap it in aluminium foil and press it in the sandwich press for a few min.
To accompany these lunch meals here is a list of our favourite recess items:
- Corn chips with guacamole
- watermelon slices
- Mini Plain croissant (or filled with raspberry Jam)
- Homemade Banana Bread (Most of the time)
- Apple slices
- Pita bread with Zaatar (I buy mini Greek pita bread and ready made zaatar. I fry off the pita in some oil and then sprinkle some zaatar on top)
- Pikelets – I have a thermomix at home and cheat a little with the mixing but I’m sure this would work just as well if you did it with a whisk.
And there you have it, fellow parents! Our favourite bento lunchbox ideas that will make your kids' lunchtime experience a true delight. These ingenious creations are sure to earn you the title of Lunchbox Extraordinaire!
But let's be real. We know that behind every adorable bento masterpiece lies a world of dedication, patience, and maybe even a few frustrated sighs. We secretly wonder if we've signed up for a part-time job as a lunchtime artist.
But fear not, brave lunch-preparing warriors! The joy and excitement in your child's eyes when they open their lunchbox is worth every. Those fleeting moments of lunchtime fame are a reminder that our efforts, no matter how small, can bring immense happiness to our little ones.
So, arm yourself with your trusty bento tools and a dash of creativity, and march into the school Term with confidence. Embrace the challenge of transforming everyday ingredients into edible magic that will make your kids the envy of the lunch table. And don't be surprised if your inbox is flooded with requests from other parents desperately seeking your secret lunchbox wizardry.
But amidst all the food artistry, remember to keep things in perspective. It's okay if not every lunch looks like a Pinterest masterpiece. Sometimes a simple heart-shaped sandwich or a surprise note tucked inside the lunchbox can bring just as much joy. After all, it's the love and thought behind the meal that truly matters.
So, fellow superhero mums and dads, let's embark on this lunchtime adventure together. Let's create moments of wonder and delight for our children, one bento box at a time. And let's never forget to reward ourselves with a well-deserved pat on the back (and maybe a chocolate treat) for making lunchtime a magical experience. May your lunchbox creations bring smiles, giggles, and full bellies to your little ones each and every day!