Part One Bento Lunches: Why Pack Bento?

Can you believe it is already Back to School time??! What a better time to talk about the benefits of packing your kiddos school lunches and maybe making them fun! This will be the first in a series of posts focused on packing lunches in a fun and efficient way!

Ever since Grace was a glimmer in my eye I knew that I wanted to pack her fun lunches. I get that it is kind of my “thing” and it might not be yours. That’s okay! But let’s talk about why you might want to consider making bento lunches or just making fun lunches!

First, let’s discuss that bento is a traditional form of lunches that are popular in Japan. If you want a traditional style bento there are certain ratios of rice, veggies, proteins and the way it is set up. So I am using the term “bento” very loosely to describe my style of food art/fun food/packed lunches. Also, while I pretty much always think about making the presentation of food appealing, I don’t necessarily pack food art/theme lunches every day as you can see from Grace’s lunches. However, I do pack my daughter’s lunch EVERY. SINGLE. DAY (and breakfast and snack, too!)

Now that we have that out of the way.. Let’s discuss why we should pack our kids lunches rather than depending on our schools to provide lunches. Maybe I can convince you it isn’t quite as bad as it seems.

Why Pack a Bento?

  • It’s healthier! Have you SEEN what USDA considers healthy??! By packing a lunch I have the ability to pack in season fresh fruits and vegetables that my daughter would rarely be able to eat otherwise. I’m pretty sure I have never seen a kiwi, mango, avocado or zucchini served on a school lunch plate. Look, I GET IT! They have to serve hundreds of kids on a budget and have restricted storage space!
  • Environmentally Friendly! Did you think I was going to go through a whole post without saying something about the environment?! Maybe next time… If you use some of the lunchboxes that are out there to pack lunches for your kiddos then you can help the environment. Instead of using styrofoam plates at school or tons of plastic bags you can use a bento style container. I PROMISE YOU they will pay for themselves! Check out my post next week for my favorites 🙂
  • LEFTOVERS!! If your kiddo has access to a microwave or if you have a thermos or food that can be served cold, you can send in your leftovers from dinner, which makes packing a BREEZE.
  • You know what your kid has eaten. Maybe I am the only one that cares about this one.. But if I KNOW Grace ate all of her lunch and she only takes 2 bites at dinner, I am okay with that. If she hasn’t eaten at all the entire day I know something may be up with her. When I get her box back and half the food is in it and she asks for a snack as soon as she gets in the car, I know why.
  • Quality Control. I had a friend who was a school teacher that has told me how gross school cafeterias are. I am confident that this is not true across the board- so no shade toward you awesome school lunch workers out there! But I know exactly what is in all of the food I send in for my kiddo. I don’t have to worry about her getting moldy bread, bugs in the kitchen, mice problems, food that is undercooked, hair in the food, etc.
  • Send in a little love. I know that I need to work. I know that my daughter is well cared for at her daycare and she LOVES going. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t often think about how I wish we were together every day. Packing a cute little lunch is my way of sending my daughter a little love in the middle of the day when we have been apart for a few hours. She can open up her lunch box and it’s like a little love note from me. I’m sure she just sees a sandwich that looks like a cat, but at least she likes cats.
  • Variety. This ties in a little with the fact that it is healthier. When you pack a bento style lunch you often pack small amounts of several types of foods. That way in the event that your kiddo decided that morning that apples are the worst ever even though they ate them all day yesterday, they have other options. I will purposefully pack small amounts of things that I KNOW Grace doesn’t like and pack them over and over again in her lunch. Guess what? She has started eating her raw carrots and watermelon!
  • Creativity. This is kind of a two fold benefit. It’s fun for ME to pack fun lunches. I enjoy making Grace’s lunches cute and the challenge that I can make it. (Like my ABC lunches that have been challenging me for nearly a YEAR and I am only on “I”) There have been some EPIC fails, don’t get me wrong but I enjoy trying to get my creative juices going and seeing how amazingly creative other moms are out there. I also think that your kiddos will enjoy the creativity. Grace gets a kick out of telling me what her lunches were each day. She will look through the pictures on my phone and giggle at the different lunch themes I have made for her. It makes food fun for her too!

I hope this encourages you to start packing your kids lunches this year to give them healthy and yummy options! Come back next week and check out part two on my favorite tools to make lunch packing as quick and painless as possible. Also come check me out on Instagram @hollyamethyst for all of Grace’s lunches!


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