School is fun and necessary, but it’s also quite draining for children of all ages. Although a trip to the cafeteria will help replenish his or her lost energy, the food they serve may not be the healthiest food we want our kids to eat. And, as much as we want to give the best lunches we can muster, our ideas may be running out. We might find ourselves opting for the easy way out – fast food. No worries, because in this article, we will share four easy, fun-to-make, and healthy bento boxes or home-packed meals from parents.com that you can make for your children’s lunches. We also added the health benefits of each bento box. So, read on and prepare your child’s lunches with these helpful recommendations.
#1 Autumn-themed Bento Box
Combine your kiddo’s favorite autumn snacks in one box for a filling, delicious meal. Include in your child’s bento box a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, carrot strips, edamame, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, and fig cookies.
How Healthy is this Bento Box?
Aside from regenerating your energy, this bento is full of vitamins and minerals that can boost your health.
Turkey contains protein, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamin B6, and niacin. It also empowers the immune system with its antioxidants, particularly selenium. This Thanksgiving favorite has amino acids too.
Cranberry is rich in fiber to relieve constipation and irritable bowel movement. It reduces the risk of heart disease and helps the immune system work efficiently. It also protects our teeth and gums from bacteria. Cranberry is filled with antioxidants that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules and fight off the production of free radicals.
Fig cookies fuel the body with its carbohydrates, help red blood cell production with its iron, maintain the integrity of bones and teeth with its calcium, fight organ and tissue damage with its antioxidants, and reduce cancer risks with its omega-3 and omega-6.
Edamame helps in our skincare, bone health, inhibition of tumor growth, and lung functioning. These beans are rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin E.
Pomegranate seeds are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and K, and phytochemicals. A serving of these fruit lowers the risk of developing chronic diseases, aids in weight management, enhances iron absorption, maintains robust health and proper blood clotting, and reduces cancer risk.
Pineapple provides our body vitamin C and manganese that aids in the development of strong bones and our connective tissues. It also decreases the risk of macular degeneration.
#2 Pasta Bento Box
Give your kid a mouth-watering lunch that not only pleases their stomach but also their eyes with this colorful bento. Add extra fun to the box by using mini wheel pasta and include bell pepper strips, hardboiled egg, chocolate graham crackers, and mango chunks.
You can substitute the chocolate graham crackers with dark chocolate. Also, make sure to partner your child’s pasta with nutrient-filled partners like various vegetables, fish, cheese, or lean meat.
How Healthy is this Bento Box?
The pasta dish is an excellent source of carbohydrates for energy. Bell peppers also contain a healthy source of carbohydrates, aside from vitamin C, B6, K1, E, and A.
Dark chocolate has antioxidants that improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also enhances brain function.
Egg contains choline, which is used in building cell membranes. It also aids in eye health and the prevention of macular degeneration through its lutein and zeaxanthin contents. The egg is high in proteins and amino acids.
Mangoes are not only sweet and refreshing but are also healthy. Like eggs, mangoes contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin. These juicy, tropical fruits have vitamin K for bone health, beta-carotene to fight cancer, fiber and water content for digestion, potassium, and vitamins for reduction of risk of heart disease, and vitamin A for healthy skin and hair.
#3 Supper-to-Lunch Bento Box
Although fresh food servings are recommended, shopping daily for ingredients can be taxing. Fortunately, there ways you can serve tasty and healthy food without a morning trip to the market. The secret? Your last night’s dinner!
You can use leftover food (just ensure that they are still safe to be eaten) from your supper for your kid’s lunch.
This particular supper-to-lunch bento uses excess chicken from last night’s dinner partnered with barbecue sauce, rice crackers, chocolate-covered raisins, grape tomatoes, and cherries.
But we recommend opting for alternatives to rice crackers and chocolate-covered raisins. Instead of rice crackers, include whole-grain tortillas in the bento box. Also, do away with the chocolate-covred raisins, and just have your child eat regular raisins.
How Healthy is this Bento Box?
Chicken is high in protein. It has iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. This protein also reduces one’s cancer risk and cholesterol level. It is recommended to bake the chicken for a healthier meal.
Grape tomatoes are a good source of fiber, vitamin A and C, and lycopene. On the one hand, raisins have carbohydrates, iron, and potassium.
Whole grain tortilla contains complex carbohydrates and fiber for energy and healthy digestion. Tortillas also offer vitamin B to support a healthy nervous system. A serving of tortilla helps the blood move oxygen throughout the body because of its folate and iron content.
Cherries slows aging, prevents cancer and heart disease, and fights free radicals through its antioxidants. The melatonin in cherries regulates the sleep cycle, while the anthocyanins in cherries reduce pain related to inflammation. Cherries also contain boron for bone health.
#4 Apple Dip Bento Box
Get your child’s dunking skills at play with this apple-dip bento. Fill your child’s bento with apple wedges with caramel dip, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, cheese, nectarines, and whole-grain cereal.
Tweak this recommendation from parents.com a little by changing the caramel dip to Greek yogurt.
How Healthy is this Bento?
Apples are one of the healthiest foods in the world. And this comes as no surprise as this sweet, pomaceous fruit is a good source of antioxidants; flavonoids; dietary fiber; vitamin C; B-complex vitamins; and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and phytonutrients.
Cherry tomatoes have vitamin B-6 to metabolize protein and support cognitive development and brain function. They are also good sources of vitamin A and antioxidants.
Baby carrots may be small, but they contain vitamins and minerals to fight terrible diseases and enhance our health. These smaller-sized carrots have carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin A, biotin, vitamin K1, potassium, and vitamin B6. Nectarines are excellent sources of beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Meanwhile, cheese is a great source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamin B12, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin K.
With whole grain cereals, you can get fiber, vitamin B, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, protein, antioxidants, and plant compounds.
But wait, here’s 7 more ideas!
#5 Bite-sized Taco Wrap Delight Bento
Veggies never tasted better than this! Cut the junk, and opt for nature’s harvest instead.
- Taco Wraps
- Whole grain tortilla
- Black beans
- Romaine leaves
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Celery sticks with peanut butter (Celery is great for the teeth. The texture acts as a “toothbrush” for the teeth.)
- Fruit salad
- Optional: Fresh spearmint leaves
#6 The French Picnic Bento
Let your children experience the flare of French-inspired cuisine with this tasty, healthy bento box meal.
- Croissant ham sandwich
- Croissant (or instead opt for brioche or baguette bread)
- Dijon mustard & mayonnaise mix
- Ham or other meat of your child’s preference
- Crispy lettuce
- Tomato slices
- Brie cheese slices (Soft-ripened cheese such as brie are great for fighting cavities!)
- Cucumber & radish “skewers”
- Fresh blueberries
#7 Protein Plate Bento
A good source of protein goes a lot way! Protein-containing foods are great in strengthening the teeth to prevent cavities.
- Peanut butter banana soldiers (a sandwich cut into fourths)
- Carrot sticks with hummus dip
- Boiled egg
- Greek yogurt with fresh fruit of your kid’s choice
#8 Homemade Lunchable Bento
Make your child their own healthy version of a Lunchable.
- Turkey or ham slices
- Sliced cheese trio
- Whole wheat crackers
- Fresh raspberries
- Cucumber slices
#9 Grilled Veggie Kabobs Bento
Nothing says scrumptious like grilled veggie kabobs!
- Grilled veggie kabobs (Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Season to your child’s liking.)
- Bell peppers
- Grape tomatoes
- Pita bread
- Creamy dip for the pita bread and veggie kabobs
- 2 tablespoons of sour cream
- Finely diced cucumber
- A pinch or two of garlic powder
- A squeeze of lemon
- Black olives
#10 Salami Pocket Sandwich Bento
Taking sandwiches to a whole new level.
- Sandwich pocket
- A “Pocket Thin” or piece of pita bread, cut in half and ready to stuff
- Salami slices
- Provolone cheese
- Tomato slices
- Carrot coins
- Zesty carrot coin dip
- 2 teaspoons of sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh spearmint leaves, and 1/4 teaspoon parsley leaves
- Strawberry and blueberry fruit salad
Remember, a well-balanced, healthy school lunch can, in fact, be tasty! Try to look for new ways to incorporate healthy items into your child’s school lunches.
Adding a delicious, nutritious dipping sauce for veggies, a healthy dressing for a salad, or a yummy spread on a sandwich are great ways for your children to enjoy a tooth-healthy meal. Sugary, fatty, or sticky foods are not good options if you want your child to have a beautiful set of pearly whites.
3 Times Fruits Can Harm Your Teeth
Although fruit usually has the vitamins and nutrients our teeth need, there are things to be cautious about with the fruit you choose to consume. Fresh fruit is healthiest for the teeth (as opposed to dried, preserved, or juiced fruit). Like anything else we eat or drink, fruit should be consumed in moderation among other nutritious foods important for our diet.
Here are some cases where fruit can be harmful to your teeth:
#1 When it’s acidic
Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons are quite nutritious. However, when citrus is consumed in excess or when directly exposed to the teeth, enamel erosion can occur. Once the important enamel layer of the teeth is gone, there’s no turning back.
Keep your enamel layer strong by avoiding excess acidic fruit consumption. Additionally, one should avoid brushing their teeth until at least a half hour after the acidic food or drink has been consumed. This will allow the acidic pH neutralize.
#2 When it contains added sugars or syrups
While natural sugar in fruit can cause cavities, it should be noted that added sugars are much more harmful to the teeth. Refined sugar quickly feeds the oral bacteria to blame for cavities and other oral-related issues.
For this reason, it’s important that you refrain from consuming preserved, canned, or juiced fruits as these are likely to contain added sugars. Fruit yogurts, jams and jellies, fruit-based sauces and syrups, fruit juices, and even smoothies often contain added sugar. That said, be sure to check before you consume.
#3 When it’s in its dried form
Because fruit in dried form can be tough, hard, chewy, and/or sticky, this can be troublesome for teeth. This is especially true for those who wear braces or other orthodontic devices. In addition to this, dried fruit, due to its lost water content, is virtually pure sugar since the sugars are more concentrated. That’s why dried fruits such as raisins taste much sweeter from their fresh counterparts.
Other problems with dried fruits include the fact that dried fruit snacks such as fruit leather often contain added sugars as if dried fruit needs an even sweeter flavor. Opt for dried fruits that are softer, less sticky or gooey, and do not have added sugar if possible.
To recap, fruit contains many benefits for the body in the form of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. Certain fruits or fruit-containing products, though, can provide harm for the teeth given their acidic pH, added sugars, and other characteristics.
Be sure to consume less acidic fruits, more fresh fruits, and less sticky/chewy fruits. Keep this consumption in moderation. Additionally, don’t forget to take extra care for the teeth when consuming sweet or gooey foods.