Balanced back-to-school bento boxes

Feeding kids is tough enough at home, but when it comes to packing a school lunch, the real challenge begins.

Bento boxes are a great way to inspire independence and encourage your kids to explore new foods. Bonus: they are easy to make ahead of time, portion controlled and completely kid-friendly – perfect for school lunches. Busy parents rejoice!

“One of the advantages of a bento box-style lunch is that they provide children with dietary variety. It is easy for children to fall into the habit of only eating the things they like. By providing them with an assortment of different foods, they learn to try more items and often surprise us with new foods they like! Healthy eating habits, including eating a diversity of foods, promote development, foster concentration and set up our children for learning success,” says Dr. Jonathon Maguire, pediatrician, St. Michael's Hospital.

When making your bento, be sure to include building blocks from the major food groups – a protein, grain, fruit and veggie. A box loaded with protein and fibre will fuel the body throughout class and recess.

A few quick ideas to inspire you:

  1. Cheese and crackers, paired with cut up carrot sticks with Greek yogurt and apple slices;
  2. Roasted chickpeas, accompanied by halved grapes, celery and a clementine;
  3. Leftover pasta with roasted vegetables;
  4. Quinoa or couscous salad.

So the next time you’re about to make the same-old sandwich, consider a bento box instead. They’re easily customizable, they can suit school regulations, and they work for each child’s dietary needs.