UPDATE, August 2013
I noticed this post getting a little traffic recently. I must update: DON'T BUY THE CUTE BENTO BOXES BELOW. THEY LEAK. They're fine if you're just snacking, eating only dry food, or eating lunch at home; but don't put them in your kids' backpacks.
My husband's bento box, at the bottom of the list bleow, is awesome at keeping food inside the containers. It's built solid and functions wonderfully. Only problem - this particular bento box needs to be prepared by the wife.
By February, a month after this post was originally written, the wife had became burned-out and resentful. Who in their right mind can stay up at midnight carving cute cherry tomato sculptures after working all day, cooking and cleaning up dinner, giving baths, commanding homework, and reading bedtime stories? Who, I ask you? Not me. His bento box sits in my garage now taunting me like a shrewd PTA leader.
Leave me a comment, let me know what you think about bento boxes (they are adorable, after all), and I'll send you my husband's awesome (barely used) bento box!
Get some recipes (there are plenty of free ideas on the internet), rice, fresh or frozen produce, a little protein, and some time. A rice cooker will help stream-line your preparation but isn't a requirement.
I started with these two cook books:
- Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches, which is more kid-friendly and includes some American ingredients (think, Government cheese and bologna.)
- The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go, which is less cute but very informative and was written from the author of the Just Bento website link, above.
If you are smarter than me, and would like to cook healthy lunches but want to save the money you spend buying bento boxes for groceries, then just use any type of leak-proof container. However, if you want to go the adorable route, check out the boxes below from amazon (aff.). This is just a few, there is one out there for everyone!
I bought this one for my toddler. She doesn't take a lunch to daycare but we plan to use these on the weekends while driving all over the metro area for jr. hockey games. (In an ideal world.)
This one is for my 1st grader who likes all things cute and pink. This style actually has more room for food than the stackable ones below. And the ears are a perfect place to stash muffin cups or other dividers for sides.
I got this one for myself. (Part of my new and improved 2013 work attitude. How could eating out of a Ninja Girl not help?)
This one (sans the tote bag so he doesn't get beat up) is the one my husband uses. It has a little more space for hungrier appetites.
Some other miscillaneous products:
And to mold hard-boiled eggs. You have to peel them when they're still hot, but they really do mold to the shape. Quite fun...if you have less feeling in your fingertips than most and if your kids actually eat hard-boiled eggs.