You have Brains in your head;You have Feet in your shoes;You can steer in any direction you choose
– Dr. Seuss
According to Sonshine, the best parts of the school day are recces and lunch.
I have been to his school during the lunch hours and seen the kids
eating lunch. For most of them, it is a time to socialize, catch up with what happened the previous evening, share stories, settle playground disputes… anything but eating lunch. But then, there are a few (very few) kids who actually are ravenously hungry at lunch time and actually eat. I wish Sonshine belonged to the latter group. But he would rather socialize than eat. Most of the days, he brings back the lunch box exactly the way I packed it in the morning, except may be a bite or two missing.
At the beginning of every school year I decide to pack healthy lunches for Sonshine. But, after a few days, I get into a rut of just bread (and Sonshine loves sandwiches) as school lunch. This year, I have decided to give him a variety of options to nibble on at lunch – at least one item from each food group – and a special treat everyday. Trust me, a little treat goes a long way 🙂 .
I loved the many compartments and teeny tiny place holder for the treat.
What caught Sonshine’s eyes were the rockstar magnets. Hmmm! 🙂
Armed with my new “toy”, I have decided to plan healthy bento boxes for Sonshine’s lunch. The first one I came up with was the broccoli pasta bento box. Sonshine loves the garlicky broccoli pasta, and this time I decided to throw in some yellow bell peppers while sauteing the pasta.
Do you need the planet box bento box to make a bento box lunch? Absolutely not! You can use any regular lunch box and some heavy duty separators (like the silicone muffin liners I used to place the grapes and trail mix in the image below) for each of your item in the bento box – the idea is that the food should not mix. Yet another way to make sure that food groups do not mix is to pack the food tightly so there is no room for the food to wiggle 😉 .
Though I do not plan my meals based on “Carbs, proteins, fruits and veggies” on a regular basis, I found it convenient to break it down that way while planning the bento boxes. This ensures all the food groups are included in the meal.
Carbs: Pasta. You can use whole wheat pasta or multi-grain pasta to make the meal more nutritious.
Proteins: Peanut Butter, nuts in the trail mix. The trail mix I used also has yogurt drops (white thingies that look like chocolate chips). You can try different nut butters, but make sure that your kid’s school allows nuts & nut butters in the lunch room.
Fruits: I have included fresh grapes and there are dried cranberries in the trail mix. Do not forget the raisins tihat were used to garnish the celery.
Veggies: This bento box is loaded with 4 different veggies – yellow bell pepper, broccoli, celery and a few lettuce leaves.
Treat: A small treat goes a long way and you become the “cool mommy” who packs treats in the school lunch. Make sure you strike a deal with your child to eat the treat only after he/she takes at least a few bites of every other food group you have included. It is definitely a win-win 🙂 . In this bento box, I decided to pack a mint. This acts as a treat as well as a mouth freshener. I figured that after eating the garlic flavored pasta, it would be a good idea to have a mint to freshen the breath.
Packing a bento box does not take a long time. You can further save time during the morning rush hour madness by making ahead some of the items in the bento box (for example, you can pre-cook the pasta for this broccoli pasta bento box). You could also wash your fruits and veggies (you can even pre-cut them) and then it is just a matter of a few minutes to assemble this bento box lunch.
Do not forget the ice pack to keep the food cold and a water bottle to go with the bento box lunch. Please read this article on keeping cold lunches safe at the USDA website.
P.S. This is not a review or a commercial for the planet box. I am just sharing with you my new “contraption” that I am extremely eager to put to use. I have not received any compensation from planet box for this post 🙂 .
Bento boxes help us to plan lunches that cover all the food groups. It is an ideal way to incorporate healthy eating habits.
5 minPrep Time
5 minCook Time
10 minTotal Time
- 1 cup Garlic Broccoli Pasta, Recipe available here
- Yellow Bell Pepper, diced (use yellow bell pepper pieces along with Broccoli while making the pasta)
- Celery Sticks
- Peanut Butter (See Recipe Notes)
- Trail Mix
- Lettuce leaves, washed, pat dried and torn into small pieces
- Peppermint candy
- Saute pan
- Saute Spatula
- Spatula to spread the peanut butter
- Kitchen Towel
- Chopping board and knife
- Planet Box Bento Box or Any regular lunch box and silicone muffin cups
- Make the garlic broccoli pasta according to the recipe . For this bento box, I have added a few pieces of yellow bell pepper while making the pasta. Pack the prepared pasta in the bento box.
- Wash and pat dry the grapes. Place the grapes in the bento box.
- Wash and pat dry the celery sticks and cut to desired length. Spread peanut butter on the celery sticks and garnish with a few raisins. Pack the celery sticks.
- Pack the trail mix as well as the lettuce leaves in the respective compartments.
- Do not forget the peppermint candy - which serves as the treat as well as a mouth freshener.
- Cool the pasta to room temperature before you close the bento box lid.
- Keep an ice pack to keep the bento box cool and do not forget the water bottle.
1. While making pasta, add salt to taste. Once you remove from fire,sprinkle a wee bit of extra salt so that pasta feels flavorful at room temperature.
2. Make sure that your kid's school allows nuts and nut butters in the lunch room.
3. The prepataion time & cook time assumes that you have pre-cooked pasta. If you do not have cooked pasta ready, please consider the time to cook the pasta to make the bento box.