As the school term rolls around again, ditch the traditional sandwiches and try a bento box lunch option instead.
Amongst the chaos of getting the kids ready for school each morning, preparing school lunches can sometimes lack inspiration and be a constant challenge. However, the daily school lunch preps don’t need to be such a chore.
Bento boxes are the perfect way to making lunchtime interesting and nutritious (for both you and the kids), and spending some quality time together creating colourful meals that get kids excited for lunchtime is the perfect holiday or weekend activity.
Here are my tips for creating deliciously fun bento box creations:
Channel your inner rainbow
We eat with our eyes, so keep your bento creations vibrant! What’s more, colourful veggies and fruits are often the moist-nutritious. Use a variety of red, yellow, orange, purple and green fresh produce to create vivid lunchtime masterpieces.
Make crunch part of lunchtime
Bento is all about the textures. Use different ingredients to make your bento box as fun and visually-appealing as possible. Carrots, celery and peppers are all great crunch items that can be chopped into bite-sized pieces and used to create limbs, shapes or patterns. Blueberries, seeds, nuts and grapes all make amazing eyes, broccoli is perfect for creating a tree, and apple is ideal for teeth.
Separate your wet foods from your dry
A key element to bento boxes is keeping every section separate. It keeps wet foods from mingling unintentionally with dry foods, but it maintains the neat and tidy look that is common with bentos.
Photo: Anna Kucera
Balance your bento
Healthy eating fuels growing brains and bodies, so a child’s lunch should have a combination of different nutrients. Typical bento boxes include a mix of nutritious and yummy foods, so be sure to include something from each of the key food groups; grains and whole grains, fruits, veggies, protein such as meats or beans, and dairy, such as cheese or natural yoghurt.
Fuel energy levels
Active kids require the right sustenance to keep their energy up throughout the day. Rice is a great carbohydrate and once cooked and cooled, excellent for moulding into bento presses or shapes. It’s naturally gluten-free too, so perfect for the whole family, or those with gluten issues. The SunRice Koshihikari Sushi Rice is perfect for bento boxes as it retains its softness for longer, perfect for bento creation shaping. It is 100 per cent pure Australian rice, milled and packed in Australia.
Throw some shapes
Pastry and cookie cutters are your new friends. Use them to cut different shapes out of wholemeal wraps, omelettes, cheese, ham, cucumber, seaweed sheets, melon, apple… the possibilities are endless!