7 Creative Toddler Bento Box Lunches

February 13, 2015

Toddler bento box lunches are fun, creative, and right up my alley. They give kids (and kids at heart) a chance to play with their food.

I used to love to pack healthy, fun lunches for Stella when she went to the Mother’s Day Out program. I had dreamed about packing lunches for my babies ever since before I had kids–I would see cute sets of notes to slip into lunch boxes, and wistfully dream of the day I could pack lunches for my own children.
Now my girls are in daycare full time, their meals are provided… but she still requests lunches from home from time to time.

I know she remembers opening her box, seeing what I had created, and smile, knowing how much she was loved by her mom.

My first little lunch revelation came over a Christmas trip back home, when, on my last day there, my dad made 2-year-old Stella lunch. He served it to her on a humble paper plate, and when it was plopped down in front of her, we both saw it was a face. I can’t describe to you exactly what it looked like or how he made it, but I remember little pieces of clementines for ears, some cheese slices for hair, grapes for eyes… maybe a turkey mouth? The point is, it was all the normal stuff I would give her, but in a precious design that delighted my toddler.

Easy! Cute and creative lunches don’t have to be time consuming or difficult.

My second lunch revelation was when, on my first day at work, I discovered Wendy Thorpe Copley of Wendolonia.com, the creative lunch mastermind behind Everyday Bento. At first, I scrolled through the Bento Box Gallery (which is thousands of lunches, beware), I couldn’t believe how over-the-top it was. I had to keep myself grounded by reminding myself there are other ways to show a mother’s love (see below), and who knows how much of this stuff her kids actually eat! But the more I explored and read on her site, the more I realized that it’s really not that complicated.

The Caveat / Side note about my own childhood:
I was homeschooled until I was eight and by the time I went to school, my mom did not pack my lunch. She had four other children, and making five lunches every day (when she had three more-than-capable of doing it themselves) was just not on her list of things to do. I hold nothing against her–packing my own lunches and doing my own laundry taught me a great deal of responsibility.

I say this because if you don’t pack a cute or creative lunch for your kid, if there isn’t a little note tucked inside or something to make them smile… they can still grow to be healthy adults, and there are a thousand other ways to show your child you love them. This is just a little exercise with which I want to experiment to get creative in a different way.

With all that being said, here’s a selection of Stella’s bento box lunches.


Toddler Bento Box One

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Wheat Thins, strawberries, grapes on star skewers, ham roll-ups, string cheese, grape tomatoes, baby carrots, a yogurt cup, and tortilla letters.

Toddler Bento Box Two

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Clementine “flower” with grape center, chopped pear, tortilla chips, grape tomatoes, (raisin) ants on a (celery) log, mini marshmallows, cheese cubes, turkey lunch meat.

Toddler Bento Box Three

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Apple sauce pouch, strawberries and grapes, homemade banana muffin, M&Ms and raisins, homemade macaroni and cheese, sautéed lemon pepper chicken breast.

Toddler Bento Box Four

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Cheese string, leftover meat pizza, yogurt, 1/2 banana, cheddar popcorn, and a clementine.

Toddler Bento Box Five

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Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grape tomatoes, blackberries, raisins, and salt and pepper chips.

Toddler Bento Box Six

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Grapes, banana slices and raisins, popcorn, Laughing Cow cheese, marshmallows, Triscuits, heart-shaped ham, butterfly cheese slices (with food markers!)

Toddler Bento Box Seven

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Strawberries, blackberries with craisins, goat’s cheese, turkey rolls, tomato skewers, veggie chips, and yogurt.


I’m so glad I did this activity. Before I did these lunches, I was giving Stella the exact same lunch every day. I did this mainly because it was balanced, easy, and I knew she would eat it all. This creative experiment challenged me to think outside the box in terms of healthy, yummy, and fun food for kids. Also, it gave my daughter something to look forward to at school.

You will see a fair bit of repetition in these boxes, and while I wanted to experiment further, toddlers appreciate routine in their (often picky) eating habits.

So what do your toddlers like to eat? Do you pop something special in their lunch that makes them smile at school?

If you’re interested in checking out some protein packed, grab-and-go snack boxes for adults, check out this post!

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By Kellie

Kellie is a redeemed woman pursuing vulnerability, color, and hygge. She loves to write, take photographs, play, and learn. She's a marketing specialist by day, a blogger at night... and a mom all the time. Kellie lives in Denton, Texas with her husband, Clay, and their young daughters.

12 Comments

  1. Reply

    chasingcalmblog

    There are so many great ideas in this post! Bento boxes do make lunch making a little more fun but you got super creative without being unrealistic. Stella’s a lucky girl!

  2. Reply

    Sosi's Mom

    So fun! I am now officially on the hunt for an airplane cookie cutter!

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      We got ours in a giant kit from Wilton. We found them at Joann’s Crafts but I know they also sell on Amazon 🙂

  3. Reply

    Renee S

    These are so beyond adorable!!!!! And healthy too <3 I'm definitely going to make some of these for my little one! Thank you for sharing

  4. Reply

    Jenn JG

    My daughter has been begging for a bento after she saw it somewhere on youtube. I was so excited to find one on clearance today while I was out shopping! I just hope she really uses it now

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      Haha, the number of times my kid has asked for something because she’s seen it on YouTube! I feel you, mama!

  5. Reply

    Darlene Dee

    Yours are adorable and healthy and they don’t look TOO difficult. I a, definitely going to try this!

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      It really wasn’t difficult! I always thought these sort of lunches would be so time consuming, but with the right materials in the house it was pretty simple… and fun for me!

  6. Reply

    Torche' Nash

    Such great ideas! I really didn’t have to pack lunches for my kids because the daycare center provided lunch for them. However, when they visited the center I worked for, I thoroughly enjoyed packing their lunches. It’s so sweet!

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      Yes, it’s definitely a labor of love for me. Ever since I started full time work, my girls get lunch at their daycare, and my daughter always asks for a packed lunch. I know she remembers these and how comforting they were for her.

  7. Reply

    Karen Lizarraras

    Thank you thank you thank you for these! My kids start school Monday and Ineeded some good lunch ideas. These are perfect

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      Wonderful! I’m so glad I was able to help you 🙂

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