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Super Quick Bento Box Ideas (for American Kids)

By Brooke McLay |

Japanese children have a really fun way to pack their school lunches. They are called bento boxes, and they are a bright, colorful way to pack lunch.

If you’ve ever packed a sandwich for your kids to take to school, chances are you’ve packed them a  sandwich that turned wet and slimy. In which case, it’s time to switch things up a notch and learn how to make bento box lunches. In Japan, bento boxes are usually made with rice. The rice is molded to make fun shapes. Some bento boxes have rice that looks like flowers or panda bears. Slices of dried seaweed are cut into shapes to decorate the rice. In Japan, it’s very common for school children to eat rice and seaweed, but it’s probably not very common for your kids.

Here are some fun foods to pack in a bento box. Most of these foods are very familiar, and you’ve probably got some of them in your house already. If so, you can make a cool, cute bento box for lunch.

How to Pack a Bento Box

1. Think inside the box. Pack your bento lunch in a small, reusable container. Square or rectangle containers work especially well.

2. Say Cheese. Use small cookie cutters to slice cheese into fun shapes that can decorate your bento box. Try cutting your slices of cheese into hearts, stars, or flowers.

3. Be Healthy. Tuck colorful, bite-sized fruits and veggies into your bento to add flair and flavor. Cherry tomatoes, olives, tiny pickles, baby carrots, grapes, and berries are all excellent additions to any bento.

4. Pack Some Noodles. You probably don’t have cooked rice or chopsticks lying around in your house. Try this noodle salad instead. It’s a great thing to pack in your bento. Ask your parents for help cooking the noodles if you don’t know how. And don’t forget to pack a plastic fork in your box!

1 package ramen noodles, cooked and drained
¼ cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, cut into bite-sized squares
2 tablespoons Italian dressing

In a large bowl, stir all of the ingredients together. Spoon into half-cup-sized plastic containers before packing in your school lunch tote.

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About Brooke McLay


Brooke McLay

Brooke McLay is a recipe developer, food writer, food photographer, and cooking show host for Babble, General Mills, and Good Cook. You can find and follow her latest whims at Cheeky Kitchen. Read bio and latest posts → Read Brooke's latest posts →

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One thought on “Super Quick Bento Box Ideas (for American Kids)

  1. Jeanne Costner says:

    I love this – thank you for sharing. My daughter is a super busy student nurse and mom (I take care of baby), so she loves that I scour Pinterest for recipes, etc. & send the links to her.

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