For families with school-aged children in the Seattle area, Labor Day is symbolically observed as the last day of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Anxious kids and parents go over their school supplies list one last time making sure each and every item is packed away in the student’s back pack including “sharpened” pencils. My girls, 3rd and 5th graders, are excited for school to finally start, although a little nervous about who their teachers will be.
Weeks ago, I made clear my expectations that they will be packing their own lunches and choosing what they will eat under my guidance. The girls have accepted this new responsibility as a sign of trust between the three of us. We’ve been discussing the types of foods that will make a great lunch and the types of food that don’t. They are ready to move beyond last year’s fare of turkey and peanut butter sandwiches.
This is the year the girls want to try bringing Bento style lunches, a popular Japanese way of bringing a home-packed lunches. I have discovered over the years how my kids and their friends love small bite-size varieties of food. When packed into small compartments or grouped together, my kids will eat more food than if each small dish was plated together.
Recently I discovered a blog called Happy Little Bento written by stay-at-home mom, Sherimiya. She has two young children and packs them the most colorful, whimsical, and healthy lunches with I’ve become very smitten with. I love browsing through her site for fun lunch ideas including the sandwich bento pictured above. Bento Zen is another bento dedicated blog parents and their children can find inspiration for school lunches.
Bento containers can be a simple plastic container or you can purchase containers with built in compartments or containers. Grouping different types of food enhances the visual appeal for young students making lunch time fun.
With a new school year starting, I would love to hear what either you or your child will be packing for lunches each day in the comment section below. I have a feeling both my girls, as well as some others, could use some inspiration to add options and variety to their lunchtimes. Eating the same thing over and over for lunched can get old very early in the school year.