Whether you’re the kind to make lunches the night before or wake up early to hustle them together in the morning, most of us… don’t love this task. Lunches aren’t necessarily difficult, but kids can be picky! Thankfully, bento-style lunches are all the rage and allow a variety of foods to come into one meal making it much more appealing to little appetites.

We wanted to create some inspiration and ideas to get your school year started off right, and continuing that way. You don’t have to make cute food animals in every meal to make it something they’ll want to enjoy. It’s an opportunity to introduce foods, and balance their day and their diet in ways that will impact them in a positive way! Take a look at these bento-inspired lunches and enjoy packing those school bags again!

1. Italian Inspired

A classic combo of crackers, cheese, pepperonis alongside some sliced red peppers and dip. For dessert, a fruit strip and some freshly sliced strawberries. Even the pickiest of kids will indulge in this lunch.

If your child grazes this through snack time to lunch time, it won’t matter, because all of it is meant to be eaten like a snack, just in whatever portions they’re ready for!

https://www.laurengreutman.com/kids-lunch-box-ideas/ PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: LAUREN GREUTMAN

2. Mini Quiche & Sides Bento

Pizza-inspired and bite-sized (so you don’t have to send your cutlery to end up in the lost & found bin at school). These will give your little ones a protein boost in their day and are easily enjoyed hot or cold.

Side them with veggies and seeds (don’t send nuts to school, that’s not really allowed these days), and watch as your lunch containers come home EMPTY!

http://www.laurafuentes.com/pizza-mini-quiches/ PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: LAURA FUENTES

3. Last Night’s Pasta Bento

Listen, you don’t need to be a hero for lunches. If us adults can enjoy last night’s leftovers, so can your littles. Pairing a vegetable of choice alongside a leftover pasta dish is an easy way to reduce waste! Cold pasta is delicious (pasta salads exist, don’t they?).

Side your leftover pasta with a vegetable side and a fruit side that you know they’ll love for a balanced meal.

http://www.beneficial-bento.com/2015/11/fall-leaf-pasta-bento.html PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: BENEFICIAL BENTO

4. Quesadillas Bento

Quesadillas are a popular lunch option in my house because it doesn’t seem to matter the day, they love them. You can “doll them up” with pizza sauce, chicken or veggies and then side them however you please too.

Don’t just stop at quesadillas though, this blogger has many additional suggestions to keep your Bento game strong.

https://hucklegoose.com/journal/cook/what-to-pack-for-lunch-early-fall?pp=1 PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: HUCKLEGOOSE

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4. Mac & Cheese Bites Bento

If you’ve ever sent leftover mac & cheese in a lunchbox, you know what a disaster that is to open up the container at the end of the day. Gross, cheesy, mildly sour smelling MESS.

So instead, make these little hand-bites that are easy to pack and even easier to enjoy. They’re the perfect compromise.

https://ziploc.com/en/recipes/tips-and-tricks/simple-lunch-tweaks-for-kids-and-grownups?cid=social_Pinterest_promoted-MacNcheeseBites-121316_ZiplocJFM17&pp=1 PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: ZIPLOC

6. Healthy Lunchables

Save your money, and your guilt over another plastic wrapped easy lunch, and send a very similar item that you make at home. Less processed, less packaging, just as delicious.

Lunchables are popular with kids for a reason, and without sacrificing that love for them, you can use these ideas to work around the storebought lunch classics.

https://www.eatingonadime.com/make-healthy-lunchables/ PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: EATING ON A DIME

7. Chicken & Hummus Bento

Double the protein, double the goodness. This lunch has some delicious options all in one, from chicken breast to hummus, fruits and veggies and more.

Customize to your kid’s likings, and make sure those dips are well secured! Leak-proof containers might be needed if your bento box doesn’t come equipped with one.

https://projectmealplan.com/chicken-hummus-plate-lunch-meal-prep/ PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: PROJECT MEAL PLAN

8. Thai Chicken Wrap Bento

Wrap up and roll this protein & flavor-packed lunch in a bento, along with some veggies and dip and you’ve struck bento gold.

Trust me, all those hidden veggies will taste delicious and you’ll be patting yourself on the back for another empty lunch container, and kids that didn’t just eat Goldfish crackers for the 3rd day in a row.

https://gimmedelicious.com/2017/04/08/thai-chicken-wraps-bistro-boxes-meal-prep/ PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: GIMME DELICIOUS

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9. Leftover Spaghetti Nest Bento

We’ve talked about leftover pasta, and we’ve talked mac & cheese bites…but leftover spaghetti nests? OOOOH, another win!

Easy to make with leftovers and some added egg and cheese, these bake up in muffin tins and are perfectly portioned for tomorrow’s lunch! Side with their favorite veggies and let them eat it all up.

 

https://www.forkly.com/recipes/leftover-spaghetti-nests/ PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: FORKLY

10. Wheels On The Bus Bento

A wheely pasta sided with some fruit, some mini cookies, and some protein-rich hard boiled eggs. WOW. Your kids is lucky, and so are you – because this one is easy!

Small portions of things they love ensure they won’t get “sick of it” and give you a higher chance of an empty container at day’s end!

https://www.parents.com/recipes/nutrition/bento-box-lunches/?slideId=slide_076188af-92b4-4e5b-b956-3dc4851ae7f0#slide_076188af-92b4-4e5b-b956-3dc4851ae7f0 PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: PARENTS

11. Taco Salad Bento Box

Don’t let the leftovers of taco Tuesday go to waste, make that into a stellar next-day lunch that is completely reinvented!

They won’t even turn their nose up at the salads, because all they’ll see is the nachos, dip and cheese of course. Eat em up, kiddos!

https://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/no-cook-taco-salad-bento-box-recipe/ PHOTO & RECIPE HERE: SWEET PEAS AND SAFFRON

12. Pancake Bento

You can be the cool lunch-maker sometimes. Pancakes for lunch? You’re a gosh-darned hero!

Make them and fill them with some school-safe seed butter, lined with bananas and sided with snacks you think your kids would enjoy and it’s a perfect (fun) breakfast, for lunch!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzymelibee/6356808323/in/pool-367772@N22/ PHOTO HERE: FLICKR

Sarah Nicole

Since successfully losing 100lbs by changing her relationship with food and her body, Sarah has taken her passion for food and balanced it between cucumbers and cupcakes. When she's not bustling her way around a kitchen, you can find her working out or winding down at home with her 3 kids and pug. Follow Sarah's journey on Instagram @TheBirdsPapaya.

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