First, what is Bento? A bento lunch is a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box. Historically, it’s a Japanese box lunch, similar in concept to the Indian tiffin...Bento lunches seem to be becoming popular in N. America lately. The two key points for me are feeding children a variety of healthy, home made food (combined with a few healthy treats/snacks) and the idea of being eco friendly (by using reusable containers and utensils, rather than adding waste to the ever growing landfills). For more info on Bento, see the link below.
What you need to get started:
1. An insulated lunchbox and ice packs. These are available in grocery, department and kitchen specialty stores, as well as online.
2. and 4. Plastic or metal compartamentalized boxes. There is just something to be said about a box with compartments and a kid's increased willingness to want to eat from it. Try it, you'll be surprised. The boxes in pic 2 (http://www.easylunchboxes.com/) were $13 for 4, from Amazon.com. The boxes in pic 4 were 2 for $2.50 at Walmart.
3. You will also need a few smaller reusable containers and utensils. I have pictured a few here, but the possibilities are endless. Things you might want to have are reusable juice/water bottles, containers with and without lids, fork and spoon, etc. Buy a few supplies and use what you have at home. Be creative and be organized and this can be sooooo easy, rewarding and fun!
On the left we have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cut into five sticks to make the structure. There are 4 grapes. I didn't have patience to cut 4 sets of eyes for them. On top of the structure is a babybel cheese for the red bird. The eyes are marshmallows topped with olives, a carrot beak, and olives for the eyebrows.
On the top right is a boiled egg white bird with olive eyes and eyebrows, and a carrot beak.
Finally, I think it's king pig kiwi, with the kiwi skin for a mustache, marshmallow eyes, olive eyeballs, a piece of kiwi for his nose.
You can get little candy eyeballs and other things to make this look perfect. To be honest, ZK Sr. did not care that they didn't look perfect. Just have fun with it and I promise your kids will love it!
This is one I call a Funchable (for Fake lunchable or fun lunchable). You can get many ideas by looking at the real (unhealthy) lunchables in the grocery store and then coming up with your own (healthier) versions. Believe me, the kids will not care as long as the concept (fun food, compartments, fruit, drink, snack) is the same!
How to put a pizza funchable together:
One sandwich thin (use only one or both depending on your child's appetite)
pasta sauce, cheese, olives (use your child's favorite toppings)
A spoon to spread pasta sauce
Use the lid as a plate