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Ditch the Brown Bag for Bento Boxes

After Labor Day almost all the kiddos across the United States will be back in school.  Do your children brown bag or buy lunch?  May I recommend a 3rd option this academic year, the bento box featured in this post.

Bento boxes are an easy, healthy and fun way to pack lunch for your children.   Both school lunch programs and the traditional brown bag lunch heavily favors carbohydrates and often packaged, processed foods such as: a hot or cold sandwich, chips or snack, fruit (hopefully), juice boxes or sugar laden drinks, and a dessert such as cookies.  To steal the tagline from Taco Bell (the only good thing to ever come from Taco Bell), “Think Outside The Bun” & Bag.  With bento boxes you can ditch the bread and processed snacks and make lunch a protein and nutrient packed meal that provides brain power for your child.  My recommendation is to fill the compartments with the following categories using foods your child enjoys:

  • Protein (i.e. Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Fish, Beans Hard Boiled Eggs etc.)
  • Veggies (cooked or raw)
  • Fruits (cut up to make it easy to eat!)
  • Nuts, Seeds, Olives, Avocados 
  • Dairy (i.e. cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt and you can add dried fruit and/or granola)

As far as beverages, I recommend skipping the juice box or sugary beverage and go with the liquid of life…water.  For those children who are resistant to change or devoted to the traditional brown bag, I suggest introducing the bento box idea once a week to start.

There are some VERY creative bento box lunch ideas on the internet- search bento box lunch ideas for kids.  You can create a bento box filled with edible disney characters, flowers, insects, hearts, pirates and much, much more!  Wishing all the children a great and healthy school year!

Copyright © Jaime Coffey Martinez, MS RD    Nutrition CPR, LLC