The Art of Back to School Lunches

With the start of school, my vacation is also over. Shorts are replaced with sturdy corduroy pants, colored chalk with #2 pencils, and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs with brown bag lunches. Yes, it is time to go back to school. With all of the preparation, which includes finding the right outfits to wear, the coolest new school supplies, lunch is often overlooked.

I know that healthy children need healthy meals and lunch time is an important meal of the day. It is usually the jump start that most of us need in the middle of the day to keep going. I want lunch to be exciting and interesting for my children as well as the same for me since I will be doing much of the preparation.

We did a better job with the peanut this summer, which translates into; I actually served less peanut butter sandwiches than the previous summer. Despite this accomplishment, peanut butter sandwiches still remain the number one requested sandwich from my children. Fortunately, nobody suffers from peanut allergies, but getting the children to try something new for lunch is sometimes challenging.

I don’t quite remember how I discovered Bento style of meal preparation, but it sounded interesting and looked exciting and delicious. Quite simply it’s “a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box.” Its origin is Japanese, but has become quite popular in the Western culture. A lunch usually consists of a carbohydrate (ex: rice, pasta, etc.), a meat, and a vegetable side. The food is prepared and packed with aesthetics in mind, which sometimes seems more important than the taste of the meal. There is great attention to detail such that food color, texture, and flavor compatibility is also to be considered. Are peanut butter sandwiches sounding pretty good (and easy to make) right now?

What really convinced me to try Bento were the pictures at Jennifer McCann’s blog The Vegan Lunch Box. Pictures always work for me and I saw many lunches that I could not wait to try. The recipes date back almost four years, so there are plenty of pictures, suggestions, and menus to keep your children interested in their lunch as well as provide you with a variety of healthy and nutritious lunch ideas to create.

A few other reasons why this is a good idea for lunch preparation is because there is less waste where there is no need for plastic wraps, disposable containers, and if you are watching what you eat, then portion control is a little easier to manage. If you can’t get it in the box, then you will not be able to eat it. So you can be a little eco-friendly while also watching your weight.

This type of lunch preparation can also be fun with your children. Have them help you make lunch. The meals you prepare can be fun and creative where you use cookie cutters to cut the content into various shapes. Whenever we pull out the cookie cutters for making the lunches, it creates a whole new exciting and fun experience. There is something really yummy about a turkey sandwich cut in the shape of a star or a race car. Add a little fun to your child’s lunch this school year. Learn more about Bento style food preparation.

Other Good Reads
The Laptop Lunch
Vegan Lunch Box (original)
Vegan Lunch Box New edition

Other Resources
Laptop Lunches

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