I've gotten a lot of requests for a list of lunch ideas and some links to some of my favorite bento supplies. My plan is to divide this into two separate posts, one today and maybe one on Thursday. I'll share with you that my lunches tend to be a variety of things the girls love, left overs and things I'd like them to try. And I would really encourage you to get the kids involved in meal planning and shopping. They will be so much more adventurous if they get to chose a new fruit or vegetable to try!
Another bit of advice, try out new things in small doses. Your only sending little bits of each food type, so if your child doesn't eat the mashed sweet potato but does eat all of their carrot sticks they'll still be getting a good source of vitamins. The next lunch you can try something different! Don't be discouraged. My girls don't like sandwiches, which happen to be a great platform for really cute bentos. So every once in a while I'll sneak in the sandwiches they will sort of eat, and if they only eat a few bites of each sandwich, well, thats ok because they've probably eaten all their fruits and veggies!
Some of my favorite lunches include;
Tea Time; cucumber sandwiches, little scones or muffins, fruits and veggies cut into tea pot and tea cup shapes, a few tiny treats like little cookies or cakes.
Italian Picnic; pasta salad, salami slices, cheese wedges, lovely crackers, melon cubes, marinated artichokes and bell peppers, and a stick of biscotti.
Indian Platters; Hummus, pita wedges, cucumber slices and carrot sticks, mango, grape tomatoes and a little cookie or other sweet. (You can whip up your own hummus, or buy those convenient containers are Costco.)
NY NY; homemade pretzels or a bagel and cream cheese, a little container of mustard for dipping, a little apple (for the big apple) or apple slices, dill pickles (deli food, right?), some sour apple rings, anything cut with a Statue of Liberty cookie cutter (think cheese or deli meat).
A Basic Lunch: Pick your theme using cookie cutters...sandwiches or meat and cheese, cucumbers, carrots, kiwi, melon, apple, bananas...these are all easy to cut. Think of themes like flowers, holidays, sports....
Summer Picnic; Baked or fried drumstick, potato salad, fruit kabobs, a bit of cobbler or pie, deviled eggs, coleslaw and olives.
Soups On Chowda; (Fill a Thermos with very hot water first to heat it up) fill with clam chowder, in a side container add fish crackers, fish shaped cucumbers and melon slices, and a fish shaped cookie or granola bar.
Soups On Lil' Chick; Fill a Thermos with some Chicken noodle soup and a side container with crackers, chicken shaped carrots, egg shaped cheese slices (decorate with food safe pens), and a cute brownie cut like a little chick!
Italian Feast; Spaghetti in a Thermos and a container with some garlic bread, a green salad, some fresh berries and a little cupcake.
Sushi; Throw together a few California Rolls, some dessert rolls made by rolling two organic fruit leathers together (use two different colors), add a little roll up sandwich with turkey, lettuce and cheese if you need more protein, I'd slice fruit in rounds and stack them with cute picks to finish it off.
It might be easier to just list all of the great food items I like to have on hand, so that throwing together lunch is easy...maybe another post! I have oodles of lunch ideas, so I will continue to post them but these are a few to start you off. Just build a lunch based on a variety of colors, textures, and tastes...a bright lunch will equal a healthy lunch!