“Bento” is a great way to encourage your child to eat lots of vegetables and healthy things, and it can look fun!
It doesn’t even have to take a long time, and you can make them up the night before.
Some of the usual ingredients I use are:
- Salad vegetables –
- Cherry or Grape Tomatoes. I have a tomato lover, so I normally use about 6 each lunchbox. You can buy cute “picks” that are a balloon string that can make a cherry tomato look like a balloon, very cute.
- Cucumber. I wash it and leave the skin on, but you can peel it or even cut shapes from the slices. You can use a small (flower, star etc.) cutter to cut a shape from the centre, and also cut one from something like carrot, and then put the carrot centre in the cucumber… for an interesting effect.
- Carrots – I peel and slice it, sometimes cutting shapes out of the slices, or I cut it into sticks. You can also grate carrot in sandwiches.
- Mini Beetroot. My little one and I LOVE beetroot… so I buy the tins of whole baby beets and cut them in halves (or quarters if they are large) and put those in the lunch, with a mini fork. I’ve also used beetroot slices and cut shapes from it.
- Peas and Corn – these fairly normal things can be quite cool when threaded onto a toothpick! (in a pea, corn, pea, corn configuration)
- Peas in the pod (Sugar snap peas – where you eat the pod too).
- Bread/sandwiches – I don’t normally make “sandwiches”, since want to focus on the vegies, but sometimes if I’m a little light on supplies I’ll make a half sandwich (one piece of bread), sometimes cut into shapes. Also another thing I sometimes do is take one slice of bread, cut the crusts off (since they normally come home anyway) and spread it with cream cheese, then sprinkle grated carrot over it and roll it up. You can also just cut the bread out into shapes with cookie cutters if they like to eat plain bread.
- Muffins – Savoury or sweet…
- Pikelets (mini pancakes). These are so quick and easy to make! you can include fruit, sultanas and other things in them too
- Cheese – Instead of buying cheese sticks and things, buy normal block cheese and cut a slice off then use a cookie cutter to make it into fun shapes. Can be served with crackers.
- Cold Pizza – you can make them with pita bread, pizza base or pastry – just spread a little tomato paste, some ham, cheese and pineapple and cut out the pizzas in small fancy shapes.
- Cold Chicken Nuggets – if your child will eat them cold of course (make sure they are cooked properly – I precook a whole batch them freeze them and take them out as needed.)
Please remember that if using any meat or dairy products you should make sure there is a freezer block in with the lunch to keep everything cold.
My first (and most elaborate bento)
Slices of wholemeal bread (buttered), with carrot, beetroot and capsicum flowers, Dinosaur cooked pasta shapes, cucumber skin stalks (and the flowers on stalks are on a cheese star). With purple rice balls, Cucumber slices and peas to fill the gaps and a red capsicum heart. I made this the night before, and it took about 40 mins, but I was not organised and didn’t know what I was going to do.
A Sushi Bento 🙂
I made tuna sushi (and added some beetroot offcuts which made it bleed pink a bit), topped with a cheese flower and a smaller nori flower. Then there are cheese flowers with cracker pieces, mini corn, sultanas and carrot slices. With wholemeal bread stars filling the gaps. I realised I would need a “lid” to keep the sultanas in the cup, so I made lids from cucumber slices with beetroot and pink cucumber (coloured with beetroot juice) inserts.
This way way too much food for her and more than half of it came back uneaten.
This has ham sandwiches on wholemeal bread, cut into stars. Cheese teddy bears, carrot slices, watermelon chunks and cherry tomatoes. It doesn’t look like enough food, but sometimes she’d not eat all of it (They provided fruit at the preschool too)
A Birdy Bento
in an alfalfa nest 🙂 with cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas (podded), carrot stars and cheese hearts.
I had a go at creating a bird from a piece of apple….
I even scooped out a bit of apple and poked a piece of pea pod in there for the eye
This one shows the pea/corn toothpicks and bread letters
Carrot flowers, cheese hearts, flowers cut from cucumber and the shells of those too, Grape tomatoes, cut baby beetroot.. and muffins and a mandarine.
Star pizzas, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, pink bunny rice, carrot slices, cubed baby beetroot. With apple slices and plain wholemeal pikelets.
Cooked corn cobbs, carrot slices, cubed baby beetroot, cut cherry tomatoes and a yoghurt/jelly/peach dessert (made by adding gelatine to yoghurt and letting it set in the silicone cases)
Sushi made with purple (naturally so) rice (with tuna and carrot), made into a catterpillar with a pea eye, carrot antenae and an apple mouth. With carrot slices and cherry tomato
Tuna filled “sushi balls” (I even gave them slightly rosy cheeks with some jam!)… with pea necklaces, carrot sticks, and some “hello panda” cookies, a choc-chip muffin and a tub of homemade custard with banana (yellow tub)…