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 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.
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!