“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Rubbermaid, Jif, and Smucker’s, but all my opinions are my own. #aBetterLunch #pmedia http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO
Some days it’s a challenge to pack a lunch that you know is going to come home uneaten. I used to cringe every time I dumped a whole lovingly prepared lunch into the trash. It used to happen often. As parents, I think we get really good at adapting and trying (desperately hard) to stay ahead of the curve with our kids to get the results we want–one of those adaptations we’ve made in our house to avoid the lunch dump while still serving up healthy food is the bento box.
Bento boxes, in case you haven’t heard of them, are these neat boxes divided off into sections so you can easily compartmentalize (and fancy up) healthy food. We’ve got a few versions in our house, but Rubbermaid has come up with a truly brilliant bento design with their Rubbermaid LunchBlox Kids kits to build a better lunch.
What makes this particular bento different is the blue ice block you snap all the containers onto. So many lunch time problems solved all at once! Food stays cold, you can take pieces off for snack time, easy washing…I could go on and on. There is a Rubbermaid LunchBlox Lunch bag that is special-made to fit the kits if the one you have doesn’t work.
Making up a bento lunch box isn’t really hard…I get a little bit carried away when I take pictures, so my kids’ lunches aren’t usually styled this spectacularly. I usually use a cookie cutter on one item to make the lunch a little more special and leave it at that. (Mornings are a little rushed around here without adding that sort of production!)
But if you want to try a full blown bento effort, pick a theme to make everything work together. I went with the stars, sun and moon, as those were materials I had around. A blueberry bed held a clementine sun with a cheese face, and the men in the moon? Jif peanut butter and a super yummy Smucker’s grape jelly on whole wheat bread.
With the extras from the piece of cheese, I popped out a few tiny stars and put them on top of some pretzel rods. The cheese scraps–well, I happened to be hungry so there was nothing wasted! It’s fantastic how the pretzels have their own little box in the container. No wayward juices will find their way in and make them soggy.
Here’s a trick I use a parties and shamelessly in my kids’ lunches to get them to eat their veggies. Anything (anything!) on a stick is instantly more fun. So skewer up some colorful veggies with abandon.
The last little cup held some apple stars made into sandwiches with some Jif peanut butter. I used a blueberry to fill the hole I made to cut out the core. Toss your apples with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning.
The sort of messy production of making apple peanut butter stars. The peanut butter really made things more complicated, but I was assured by the kids the work was worth it. All you have to do is slice the apples into thin layers and pop stars out with cookie cutters. If you have teeny tiny circle cutters, use them to cut out the core, otherwise a knife will do the job just fine. Spread on a layer of Jif peanut butter, put two stars together and you have yourself a sandwich.
Now, kids don’t usually outright recognize the love we’re showing them by making food for them. They sometimes need a bit more directness. Which is why I love lunchbox love notes. I offered a set a few years ago (here) when my daughter first started school…they remain a much-appreciated part of lunch. So I’ve come up with a new set for this year I’m offering as a free printable for the new school year.
You can download the free printables here. They’ll print out four per letter size page. Print and cut out a stack to have handy when you’re packing lunch boxes.
With a bento box, healthy lunches for kids are much more fun. And with some love notes for school, the day will be just a little bit better.