Shop the photo: Bentgo Stainless Steel Leak-Resistant Bento Lunch Box
Gonna miss the kids to bits once they're in school? We feel you!
A tiiiiny tiny bit relieved to finally send them away? Yep. We get it too.
For a lot of us, back to school season is rolling around and we're having to transition from the holiday road-trips-and-playdates mode to our normal everyday routine.
On top of getting up early, it can be time-consuming to keep figuring out what to pack for lunch for the kids every day of the week again. (They can only stomach so many PB&Js...) And we don't want to open our child's backpack once they're home from school and realise they left their lunch only half eaten — and only the snacky bits too.
So we know just the thing that could help.
This year, we want to help you create the most exciting meals for your little ones as they tackle those school days. The all-in-one solution? Say hello to the bento-style lunch box!
What is a Bento Lunch Box?
When it comes to kids lunch ideas for school, trust us: Bento boxes are the next big thing. They are by far one of the most practical, fun, and convenient ways to prepare a healthy lunch for the kids or for yourself!
So what is a bento box? They are a Japanese-style lunch box that usually come with different sized compartments, perfect to pack together a complete balanced meal consisting of many different foods and ingredients.
It's better than your typical salad sandwich lunch combo, because bento box lunches can include anything from proteins like meat or fish, salads, rice, to fresh fruit and veggies all in one box. This means everything stays separated and none of your foods end up being mushy and soggy. Also, kids bento boxes are great to keep every meal ideally portioned for your child's appetite!
On top of all of that, they're compact enough to carry around with you or your kids anywhere you go.
Shop the photo: Bentgo Lunch Boxes
The Best Bento Box for Kids
When it comes to finding the right lunch box to send your little ones away to school this year, we totally recommend the Kids Leak Proof Bento Lunch Boxes by Bentgo!
Their bento-style lunch boxes are suitable for kids of any age thanks to the vast range of colours, sizes, and styles available.
They also feature rubber edges, which means you don't have to worry about these boxes breaking, even if the hyper-active kids drop everything you give them everywhere. (Let's face it, parenting is 90% picking stuff up from the ground.)
Each box packs different-sized silicone sealed compartments, which means they're spill-proof so your school lunches stays clean and fresh!
How to Pack a Bento Box Lunch
If you're new to the whole 'bento lunch' routine, we'll help you out. Here are some easy tips to keep in mind for your bento meal prep!
- Make it colourful & playful: Get creative with the ways you can slice veggies up or combine other foods. Try to achieve at least 3-4 colours in your bento box to keep your little one excited for their meal time!
- All the food groups: Normally, bento lunches include a protein or main dish (meat or seafood), a carb (pasta, rice, noodles), sides (baby carrots, boiled egg, cherry tomatoes), small snacks if you wish (nuts, crisps) and fresh fruit (like apples or berries)!
- How to keep your lunch box fresh: Pack your lunch boxes in an insulated lunch bag to keep it fresh and safe until lunch time. You can also use an ice pack to keep the contents of your bag perfectly cool!
- Food safety:Bento lunches are best enjoyed at room or cold temperature. When you're reheating the food in the morning of to put into your lunch box, let hot foods cool down before inserting them. This is important for ensuring no bacteria grows on your child's precious meals!
Now that you know the basics of what a bento box lunch is, it's time to delve into the bento recipes to give you some fresh inspiration! Here are some back to school lunch ideas you can try any time of the year.
Shop the photo: Bentgo Stainless Steel Leak-Resistant Lunch Box
15 Healthy & Easy Bento Lunch Ideas for Kids
We know school mornings are hectic — so we have you covered. We've picked out recipes and foods you can well prepare the night before.
Here are 15 healthy & colourful ideas on what to put in your bento box!
1. Salmon & Cream Cheese Rolls
They sound fancy, but these beautiful salmon & cream cheese rolls are super quick & easy to food prep. You only need cream cheese, some fresh chopped dill, smoked salmon, and a packet of French-style crepes and you're halfway there!
Zero cooking, too. In only 15 minutes, all you need to do is mix together your cream cheese with some dill and lemon, spread a tablespoon of it onto a crepe on a flat surface, top it with the smoked salmon and a little bit of red onion, roll up slice and you're done!
You can replace the toothpicks with child-friendly sticks to keep your little ones safe. See the full recipe here.
2. Egg Salad Sandwich
An egg salad is one of the simplest things to prepare that can please anybody, of all ages. As long as you have boiled eggs, light mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and whole-wheat bread, you're pretty much done!
Chop your hard boiled eggs and mix them with mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. Then, spread that mixture across your bread. To spruce up your typical egg salad, we highly suggest adding some lettuce and herbs, or dicing up some carrot or cucumber to add it into the egg salad mixture for an extra crunch and freshness.
3. Baked Sweet Potato Chips
Potato chips in general are something every child loves. Sweet potato, on the other hand, are divine and will look super vibrant as a side dish in their bento meal.
All you need to do is slice the sweet potato up (into crisps or chips, depending on what your kids like), place them in a lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and pop it into the oven!
4. Japanese Sweet Egg Rolls (Tamagoyaki)
There are tons of creative side dishes to try putting into the kids' bento box, but one thing we guarantee they'll love is tamagoyaki, a.k.a Japanese Sweet Egg Rolls!
They work exactly like rolled omelets where you roll several thin layers of fried egg on top of a frying pan, to make one log-shaped egg roll. The key here is a large pan that has to be hot when you add the egg mixture at first — to keep the bottom layer from sticking.
Serve them with rice, salmon, pickled vegetables, and more! View the complete recipe by Just One Cookbook here.
5. Mini Muffins
We have a set of 3 go-to mini muffin recipes that are super easy to follow and can add a tasty sweet treat to your little one's lunch box! From apple cinnamon to white raspberry, once you've perfected our sweet muffin base recipe, you're basically good to go to modify them however way you or your child would like it.
You also don't need to worry about the muffins getting too soggy, as the Bentgo Lunch Boxes come with child-friendly latches that can really lock in the freshness of your food.
View our mini muffin recipes here!
6. Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles
Before you run for the hills when we say zucchini noodles, it's actually not as tricky as it seems! Not only are they super rich in nutrients but 'zoodles' are actually super simple to prepare (will only take you 20-30 minutes) and can last you a whole week.
If you're not sure how to make zucchini noodles, with a trusty veggie spiraliser, it'll be done in a jiffy. It's a great way to add new shapes, colour, and texture into your child's bento box *plus* a foolproof way of getting them to eat their greens as it doesn't look so leafy or like your average broccoli.
From prep to year 12, anyone in the family will love this. Check out the full recipe here.
7. Cheese & Crackers with Fruit/Veggies
If your child is the 'nibbly' type, you can never go wrong with a set of cheese & crackers with a load of fruit, nuts, or veggies to complete the box.
This is a perfect, no-fuss solution that can be ideal for high-activity days such as road trips or playdates. Because this bento box is made of dry & compact foods, your little one can easily finish it throughout the whole day without having to make their hands dirty for a one-sitting meal.
8. Octopus Sausages
Cute bento box ideas are bound to put a smile to your loved one's face, especially all the ways you can make decorations and shapes or animals out of simple everyday foods! The Octopus Sausages by Just One Cookbook is a great example of this. Its sesame seed eyes and adorable creative shape will truly give your little one a surprise. Let them enjoy it with broccoli or snap peas, grape, seasoned rice, and other sides.
9. Quick Quesadilla Bites
We can all agree nothing beats a good ol' quesadilla! There are tons of ways to make quesadillas, such as Vegetable Quesadillas which can be a clever way to serve vegetables to your little one through fun finger foods that they will love.
Roasted vegetables will work wonders in a quesadilla. You can use something you can easily sautee or roast in an oven tray like broccoli, grated carrot, sliced bell peppers, mixed together with beans, avocado, or corn. Be sure to also pack in a touch of extra fillings like cheese, hummus, or sour cream and you'll have a filling, flavourful, nutritional treat your kids will bound to ask for more of!
10. Teriyaki Salmon Rice Sandwich
If you really want to elevate your bento box game, we guarantee an original Japanese rice ball (or onigirazu) will take you there. This delicious teriyaki salmon square-shaped rice ball makes for a tasty and quick lunch, wrapped in a compact layer of nori or seaweed and a double pack of short-grain Japanese rice.
This is an excellent bento lunch idea for adults or teens in the family too! Complete the layering with some asparagus in between, and some optional soy sauce on the side, and it can take your breath away.
Read more in the recipe here.
11. Easy Veggie Dip
A classic veggie dip is a great versatile option to pack into the bento box as a side condiment. All you need is some chopped herbs (such as dill & parsley), mayonnaise, seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder), and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Mix them together and you have a delicious creamy veggie dip that can go with other veggies like baby carrots or celery, or crackers and crisps. Lucky for you, Bentgo's Leak-Proof Lunch Boxes are equipped with compartments of various sizes, which can well carry any condiment as well as sides, all in one box!
Read the recipe here.
12. Creamy Cucumber Salad
Fresh and creamy is truly the way to one's heart. Aside from a decadent vegetable dip, you can also try this easy Creamy Cucumber Salad! Made with crisp cucumbers and red onions, it's a refreshing side dish that can be a great addition to your little one's bento wherever they go — especially on hot summer days.
Mix the crisp vegetables in a mixing bowl and coat them with a mixture of sour cream, lemon cream, chopped dill and garlic cloves, with a dash of seasoning, and it makes for an easy quick refresher you can even whip up the morning of!
View the recipe here.
13. Avocado, Beans, & Corn Salad
Still on the salad train, we're a huge fan of an Avocado, Beans, & Corn Salad. Not only is it stunningly bright and fresh, but it's also loaded with tasty, nutritional things your little one can be introduced to!
A combo of avocado, corn, beans, cherry tomatoes, and sliced red onion, generously seasoned with salt & pepper or other simple dressings if you'd like. This is a recipe that can really build a healthy bento box, and you can easily pack it away in the fridge for dinner, and remake again and again with extra toppings like mango, tuna, crushed tortilla crisps, and more. See the recipe here!
14. Peanut Butter with Apple, Celery, Crackers, or More
Out of ideas? Peanut butter can truly save the day. Not only is it packed with protein that will be good for your little one's growth, it also goes with so many things, like strawberry & biscuits, apple or celery, mini waffles, crackers, and more.
It's one ingredient that makes for a decadent, tasty, snacky-but-filling combo. With a leak-proof bento box like Bentgo's, you can easily serve up condiments like peanut butter at the centre of the box without having it spill everywhere, and pack the compartments around it with the various foods (from savoury to sweet.) It's a perfect solution for days where you're just running low on cooked meals and want to prepare something easy!
15. Sliced Avo & Halloumi Wraps
Last but not least, another go-to sliced wrap that you can customise and modify. Halloumi cheese is exceptionally tasty and easy to prepare. Simply cook them on a frying pan and you're left with some chewy salty goodness that's bound to be your child's next favourite thing.
Take out a whole wheat wrap, spread the middle with some hummus, stack some carrot, fresh avo, and an optional touch of beans or sun-dried tomatoes, and then roll it all together and you're done! A colourful lunch that hits the sweet spot.
View the full recipe here.
What are you & the kids most excited about for back to school season this year?
Find everything you need from daily lunch essentials to stylish drink bottles in our wide Back to School collection!
Tag us on Instagram @matchboxaustralia when you try these bento box lunch ideas & recipes on your own, and get prepared for the 2022 school term.
We'll see you in stores!
The Matchbox Team
How to clean a bento box?
The Bentgo Leak Proof Lunch Box for example, come with a removable compartment tray that is top-rack dishwasher safe. Generally we recommend hand washing bento boxes with warm, soapy water to make them last for years. Also remember to wash them as soon as the kids come home from school and avoid leaving it until the next day!
Where to buy a bento lunch box in Australia?
You can find plenty of bento-style lunch boxes at Matchbox online or in-store, from brands like Bentgo, Yumbox, Oxo and more! On top of that, get FREE Shipping when you spend over $69 on our website. From lunch bags to drink bottles, shop everything you need for back to school season today!