We want our kids to be happy and healthy. At the same time, we want them to have something nutritious, fun, and delicious for their lunches. They need something that is portable, can be eaten cold, and very easy to grab during a 20-30 minute period.
Bento box recipes are excellent ideas. They are likely ideas that you’ve never heard of, but will have seen. These recipes have been around since the 16th century, but are from Japan.
We’re right here to help you with some bento boxes and we will even share more about what they are.
Perfectly Portioned Lunches on the Go
When you need a lunch on the go, you need to make sure it is portioned perfectly. Bento boxes make that extremely easy. You know your kids are eating plenty of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fibre, and fats. They get all the four food groups, while enjoying their vitamins and minerals.
You only need a lunch box to make these work. If you want to portion them properly, you can get specially designed Tupperware boxes, but they really aren’t necessary. Reusable silicon muffin liners are perfect for creating the portion sizes and fitting inside the lunch boxes.
Separating isn’t just to help get your portion sizes right. They will also make carrying lunch easier. You just have one box with everything inside, including dessert and snack.
So, here are nine recipe ideas to create the perfect fun bento box recipes for your child’s lunches.
#1. Chicken Salad with Leafy Greens
Trying to get the kids to eat healthily isn’t always that easy. You may worry about giving them something full of leafy greens because of what their friends will think, but the colours and textures will soon have all the kids in schooling raving.
Chicken is an excellent source of protein, especially when you opt for skinless lean portions. The leafy greens and protein mixed together will help to keep your kids full until dinner time.
- Grilled chicken
- Red onions
- Pine nuts
- 1. Cover the chicken with some rosemary and thyme and grill in light olive oil
- 2. Toss the chicken together with the rest of the ingredients and place on one side of the lunch box.
In the other portions, add some cucumber slices and some cherry tomatoes. You can also add some strawberries or orange segments for a sweeter dessert. Dried mango and pistachios also work extremely well. If you are in a nut-free school, take out the pistachios and pine nuts and replace with sunflower seeds.
If your child wants a dressing, try a balsamic vinaigrette. However this is one of those salads that works well without anything.
#2. Rice and Bean Wrap Boxes
Some kids just want to eat sandwiches. They’re easy to grab and require no other cutlery. They also create no other trash. It’s important to get the right type of sandwiches. Wraps are on the healthier side, especially when using wholegrain tortillas.
Here’s a rice and bean wrap box idea that the kids will love.
- Wholegrain tortilla
- Cup of brown rice
- Cup of quinoa
- 1 can of pinto beans
- 1tsp cumin
- Grated carrot and cucumber
- 1. Mix the rice, quinoa, pinto beans and cumin together
- 2. You can place sour cream into your wraps if you want and add in the carrot and cucumber
- 3. Spoon the rice mixture and wrap your tortilla
- 4. Cut the tortilla in half or threes, holding them in place with a toothpick
- 5. Finish off with some chopped vegetables and fruits, choosing your child’s favorites
Mangoes and kiwis work well with this bento box. Make sure you peel and dice for the bottom of the box.
#3. Sushi Roll Sandwiches
Why not make your sandwiches look like sushi rolls. Your kids will love this, especially as they get to show off your master piece to their friends. The only problem you’ll have with your kids’ friends’ parents annoyed with your artistic talents.
These are really simple to make the night before when you have more time, so you can just grab and go on a morning.
- 3 slices of bread
- 1 can of tuna, in water or brine
- 1 tsp capers, chopped
- 1tbsp mayo
- 1/2tsp mustard (optional)
- 1 cucumber, sliced into sticks
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1. Chop the crusts from the bread and roll the dough with a rolling pin
- 2. Place everything up and including the optional mustard into a bowl and combine
- 3. Spread onto the bread in a thin line
- 4. Arrange the carrot and cucumber on the top
- 5. Tightly roll the bread to create your sushi rolls
Chop the bread into four even pieces and repeat until all the bread is finished.
Pop in a bento box with some salad and fruit in the other two compartments.
#4. Japanese Egg Mayo Sandwiches
Sticking with the sandwiches, here’s a slightly different take to egg mayo. The Japanese mayo can have a bit of a kick, and not all children will like it. You can switch it out for normal mayo if you want.
- 2 slices of bread
- 1 egg, hard-boiled and peeled
- 1tbsp Japanese mayo
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A pinch of sugar
- 1. Mash your egg in a bowl and add the mayo. You will need to mix well.
- 2. Add the seasoning and sugar to taste.
- 3. Spread across the bread and then top with the second slice.
It’s fun to make your sandwiches into shapes for smaller kids. Try stars, triangles, and even monkeys with cookie cutters. For older kids, just cut off the crusts, as that’s how Japanese sandwiches tend to be served.
You’ll fit two or three halves into a half a bento box. Pack the rest of it with some mango, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and other favorite fruits and vegetables.
If you need more time on a morning, you can do the egg on a night. If the sandwiches are wrapped, they will usually last overnight too.
#5. Chicken Meatball Bento Lunch
- Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs (recipe below)
- Ham slices, cut into strips
- Japanese crab salad (recipe below)
- Eggs, hard boiled and peeled
- Steamed rice
- Steamed broccoli
- Cherry tomatoes
- Small orange
- 1. Pack your steamed rice into half of a bento box and allow to coo
- 2. Reheat your meatballs and then place on a plate to cool
- 3. Once your rice and meatballs are ready, pack everything into the bento box.
Yes, this one will take some preparation beforehand. The chicken meatballs and Japanese crab salad are meals that you can make the night before and even enjoy them for dinner one night. You only need small portions to enjoy in a bento box.
You will need two boxes for this. The rice and meatballs in one and the rest in the other.
Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs
- 14oz ground chicken
- 5oz tofu
- 1 ½ bell peppers
- 1 onion
- 1in ginger, grated
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1tbsp soy sauce
- 1tbsp sugar
- 1tbsp mirin
- 2tsp rice vinegar
- 1/2tsp corn starch
- 1. Whisk the soy sauce and everything down on the list from there in a bowl and place to one side
- 2. Wrap the tofu in paper towel and leave to drain
- 3. Deseed the bell peppers and mince with the onion and ginger
- 4. Combine with the chicken and then add in the tofu, broken into pieces
- 5. Add in the egg and combine together, seasoning to taste
- 6. Make small meatballs from the mixture and cook in a non-stick frying pan until the bottom is browned
- 7. Flip the meatballs and cook while covered for 3 minutes
- 8. Once the meat is cooked through, pour the sauce over and cook until the sauce thickens
Japanese Crab Salad
- 1 packet of crab meat
- ½ cucumber sliced diagonally and cut in half
- ½ cup of corn kernels
- 2tbsp Japanese mayo
- 1tbsp Ponzu
- 1tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/2tsp soy sauce
- 1. Place the crab and cucumber in a bowl and add the kernels
- 2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in another bowl and mix
When not serving right away, keep the two bowls separate. With a bento lunch box, you can pour the dressing over the top of the salad and snap the lid closed.
#6. Stir-Fry with a Sweet Asian Sauce
This is one of those recipes that you can use tofu, chicken, or even pork for. The choice of meat is completely up to you and your kids.
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ cup of mirin
- 3tbsp soy sauce
- 2tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1tsp honey
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- 1/2tsp sesame oil
- 1.5 cups of diced meat/tofu
- 1/2tsp 5-spice
- ¼ cup of corn starch
- 5 mushrooms, sliced
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- ¼ cup of red peppers, sliced
- ½ cup of snow peas
- ½ cup of carrots, grated
- ½ cup of red onions, sliced
- 1 cup of oil
- 1. Mix everything up to and including the sesame oil together and put to one side
- 2. Mix the cornstarch and 5 spice together and then cover the meat
- 3. Use the oil for greasing the pan and then add the meat, frying until all sides are browned, and the meat is cooked through
- 4. Remove all but 2tbsp of the oil from the pan and then cook the onion and mushrooms
- 5. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for a minute
- 6. Add the meat back in and then add in ½ cup of the sauce
Serve the meatballs on a bed of rice or leafy greens in the bento box. You can pop in fruit and veggies of your child’s choice in the other two compartments.
#7. Portobello Mushroom Pizza in a Box
What about a pizza in a box? I’m not suggesting you make a pizza for your kids’ lunches. Portobello mushrooms can make excellent pizza bases.
All you need to do is remove the cap and the gills from the mushroom, so you just have the cup. This is your pizza base. You can put in the toppings that you want. Shredded courgettes and chopped bell peppers work well with some cheese on the top.
Bake the mushroom at 350F until the cheese is melted and the mushroom is soft and ready to eat.
Don’t forget about putting some fruits and vegetables chopped up in the other containers of your bento box. Corn on the cob is great with this meal, and cherries and mango go together well for dessert.
#8. Thai Chili Salmon Skewers
What about some salmon skewers for a bento box? This is going to be a little different, and some kids won’t enjoy it, but they can be fun. Think of this as an option for your older kids who want to try new things and impress their friends.
This is something you’ll need to make the night before.
- 8oz boneless salmon
- 1tsp coconut oil
- 1tsp Thai red chili paste
- 1/8tsp Sriracha chili sauce
- 1/2tsp soy sauce
- 1/2tsp fish sauce
- 1tsp agave syrup
- 1/4tsp lime juice
- 1. Chop salmon into bite-sized cubes
- 2. Mix everything except the salmon in a mixing bowl
- 3. Add in the cubes and marinate for an hour
- 4. Place cubes on skewers and grill until cooked through
- 5. Add a portion of rice to the bento box
If you want to do something a little different, you could always try some coconut rice.
- Can of coconut milk
- Shredded coconut
- Pinch of salt
- 1. Make your rice as usual but with the rest of the ingredients. You may need a little bit of water to help the rice cook fully.
Sprinkle your rice with some coconut flakes.
Add some melon and blueberries to your bento box for the fruity dessert.
#9. Rainbow Bento Boxes
For smaller kids, choosing lots of different colors is always fun. Why not try creating a rainbow bento box. You probably won’t get all the colors of the rainbow in one box, but you can certainly get three or four.
Choose food from different groups. You’ll be able to fit in reds, greens, yellows, and even whites within the box. Layer in strips along the box so your kids can see and taste the rainbow. You can finish off with a portion of Goldfish!
It’s time to get creative with your kids’ lunches. Bento boxes make it so easy and they also help to keep the portion sizes under control. There are options above for kids of all ages, whether they love shaped sandwiches or would prefer a meal that they can show off to their friends.
You never know! You might find some bento lunch ideas for your own needs. Have fun!