Packing Bento Lunches for Everyday Parents
My name is Melissa, I’m the owner of Trendy Lil Treats. We are a family business based in Townsville and love sharing our bento love around Australia and Worldwide. I started Trendy Lil Treats in February 2013 and what started off as a love for Bento quickly grew into an obsession with anything food related because I saw how much it changed my sons eating habits. Then when we had our second son who had major food sensory issues and bringing bento into his life changed his eating habits from barely eating half a Bentgo to now eating a Go Green. You name it I tried it over the years and can now happily say that both my boys eat so much better now thanks to it.
I find the best way to pack everyday bento lunches that are quick, easy and practical for any mum is to follow 3 easy steps:
- Keep It Simple
- Be Organised with Frozen Baked Goods
- Make it look Appealing as “kids eat with their eyes”
These days a lot of schools are going “nude food lunches” which is to reduce the rubbish on the environment. If you have a lunchbox that has sections, this means you won’t have to use cling wrap to separate foods which really helps the environment. It also means rather than buying small packets of biscuits, sultanas, etc you can buy big packets and place the amount you want directly into each section keeping it fresh, easy to eat (no packets need to be opened), less food wastage if they don’t finish an entire packet and appealing on the eye.
I always try to keep 1-2 draws in my freezer stocked with slice, bite sized cupcakes/muffins, lamingtons, muesli bars, lcm bites, cookie dough logs, pizza scrolls, ham and cheese rolls, etc. Most lunchbox items can be frozen and if you make them in advance and bulk you can then take the items you want out and place them straight into the lunchbox in the morning. Or if you find you have nothing cooked then you can take out a cookie dough log, slice and bake and have fresh cookies in 8 minutes, which is usually how long it takes me to put lunches together in the mornings so it works out perfect. Another good thing about being organised is if dad needs to make lunches he can easily take some baked goods out and place them into a lunchbox without worrying about what to do. I have a list in our kitchen which shows the foods our boys like in their lunchboxes to help my husband if he has to do it, rarely, or those days you just can’t think of what to put in.
Kids love to be involved so it’s great to let them help with the baking and preparation for lunch. I often cut my boys sandwiches or give them pikelets to colour in using the foodoodlers, they love being involved and it is always eaten when it’s something they have helped with.
TIP: You can prepare fruit and vegetables in advance and stored them in the fridge, the general timeframe recommended for freshness is as follows:
Recommended 2-3 days (Preparation on Sunday and Wednesday would last the week):
Fruit: Slice and store in air tight containers.
Tomato: Slice tomato and place on slices of bread to soak the juices.
Lettuce: Slice lettuce and store in water, use a salad spinner to dry before use.
Recommended 4-5 days (Preparation Sunday or Monday to last the week):
Carrot: Peel your carrot very well (any skin will turn the carrot brown) and then grate it to the thickness you want. Store in an airtight container with paper towel on the bottom.
Being organised will save you time and stress with packing your lunches.
For store brought snacks I only ever purchase items from the health food isle and the baby isle as the salt and sugar contents are so much better than the regular biscuit, muesli bar and chip isle.
Lets talk lunchboxes, A major factor is providing lunches that your child will want to devour is to find a lunchbox that suits your child’s needs. Every child is so different and finding that perfect lunchbox can be very tricky. When looking for a lunchbox some things to consider are:
- Size – Check Cup Capacity and Dimensions to ensure you are buying a lunchbox that isn’t way to small or big for your child. If you aren’t sure ask the business you are purchasing from know what you need to fit into the lunchbox every day and they can point you in the direction of one that will fit everything you need in. This will save you money buying ones that don’t suit your requirements.
- Leak Proof – Are you packing fruit and wet items that require it to be leak Proof? If so ensure you ask that question or read the product information clearly. It will clearly state if it is leak proof, if it doesn’t say then it will not be.
- Quality – If you want a lunchbox that will last years then you need to look for quality. Ask for reviews on the ones you like. If looking for reviews online be sure to check they aren’t more than 18 months old because most brands change designs over time and those older reviews will be void. It’s best to ask others how their experience has been to get the most up to date reviews.
- How easy is it to use – Ensure you find one that is easy to open and close for your child, it often does take half a dozen times practising for any child to adjust to a lunchbox but there are a few on the market that are harder to open and close than others and little hands may struggle. Definitely advise the age of the child if you are asking for reviews.
- Budget – Stick to your budget
The Top 5 bento products I find help jazz up a boring lunch into a cute one and don’t add any additional time onto lunch prep are:
- Lunch Punch Sets (My favs are VRRM and Match & Munch)
- Foodoodlers (Edible Food Pens)
- Cute Fruit Forks (little forks to help pick up fruit, cake, etc)
- Food Picks (note that food picks come in short, medium and large length which suit different needs)
- Condiment Containers (great for treats or to separate small items)
The above items are by far my most used items making an appearance at least 3 times a week each. You can start off with buying lucky dip and mixed packets to try different bento products, see what you like and what works for your child and then expand your collection of those items.
As long as you pack items your child will eat, or at least try, you are doing an amazing job. I always pack a sandwich, lots of fruit, a treat, cheese, biscuits and some snacks. I don’t pack vegetables or hot foods as my boys simply will not eat hot food at lunch or vegetables but they do happily eat them at night so I don’t push those foods during the day. Do what works for your children, as a paediatrician once said to me “mums know what is best for their own kids”. If you are looking for ideas of foods to pack in your lunchbox, click on http://www.trendyliltreats.com.au/lunch-box-ideas/ and print this list out and keep it on your pantry.
You don’t need the biggest and best collections of products to give your child a fun lunch, start small and work your way up from there and within your budget. The items above are certainly a good start and reasonably cheap to buy. Our products are BPA Free.
You can see our range of products on our website www.trendyliltreats.com.au or contact us via Facebook www.facebook.com/trendyliltreats if you would like to ask us any questions about finding the perfect lunchbox for your needs or if you’re looking for ideas to encourage fussy eaters. We are always here to help.
For all Lunchbox Ideas for Kids followers we offer 10% off using the coupon code 10LUNCHBOXKIDS.
Until the end of May we have Go Green Full Sets at $55 each, save $10. While stocks last.
Thanks for having me on your blog Anita.
Trendy Lil Treats