As many Boston Babies prepare for their first year of school this fall, it can be an unsettling time for both toddlers and parents. While many moms and dads have had their little ones in enrichment classes, or other child care services, sending your tiny tot to a more structured school setting can still be a very real adjustment for everyone.
While providing consistency is always important when change occurs for children, sprinkling little snippets of love throughout their structured routine adds another element to the mix. This allows children to both acclimate to a set schedule through structure, while looking forward to the little treats and personal touches along the way that soften those sometimes scary new experiences.
When searching for new and innovative ways to show your little one you care, consider filling their lunches with fun and their bellies with food! Preparing Bento Boxes are a great way to let your kids know you are thinking of them during their snack or lunch time. *Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.
If you are running short on time (as many of us moms are) then there’s no need to get creative with cut outs. Keep things simple, but still stimulating, by offering your Boston Baby a colorful meal, filled with fun (and each food group!)
This fairy tale food choice is one of Boston Babies’ favorites. While this may seem like a culinary challenge, there is a simple method to this mealtime madness. The pink piggies are made with rice and natural food coloring, while the bologna nose and ears are made by using different sized straws as cutters, and a single hole puncher was used to make nori (dried see weed for sushi) eyes. The other bento box is lined with lettuce, strawberries, veggies, and cut up fresh shrimp tempura (available in frozen fish section).
Leaving the best for last, this Bento Box is a bit more complicated, but definitely doable after a little preparation and practice. This lunch includes an apple dipped in lemon juice to preserve the color. In addition, there are little apple balls using a small fruit scoop, popcorn chicken, cherry tomatoes, asparagus and bell pepper. Goldilocks’ hair and Mama Bear’s bow are made from American cheese. Goldilocks has a bow made of ham, while Mama Bear’s eyelashes are detailed with black sesame seeds. This mealtime masterpiece requires some serious creativity and time in the kitchen but is a crowd (kid) pleaser!
Sometimes there is something to be said about keeping it simple! This little snack bento of fruit provides your toddler with the chance to nibble on something sweet while still finding fun in the colorful selection of food, the sectioned off container and of course the stylish Hello Kitty box.
These finger sandwiches are another example of how you can get creative with your cooking, even in a time crunch. Simple sandwiches (such as ones made with cheese, deli meat, veggies like cucumbers, or spreads like hummus) can be made cute and creative when you use sandwich cutters. This lunch includes bear, bunny and flower shapes.
- There should be a balance of color.
- There should be a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables/fruit.
- It’s best to use freshly cooked or reheated rice to make rice balls/shapes. It’s also best to make rice balls/shapes day-of as refrigerated rice can dry up and not be as palatable.
- Ideally, let food cool before closing lid or heat/steam may make food soggy.
- Use straws, hole punchers, craft punches or scissors to makes shapes of meat, cheese or nori (dried seaweed for sushi).
- Use food cups, picks, paper dividers, and mini sauce bottles to accessorize.
- Have fun!
- A great book for ideas and how-to’s is Yum Yum Bento Box by Maki Ogawa and Crystal Watanabe.
- Shop for bento box accessories like shape cutters and rice molds on Amazon.com or Bentousa.com.
*Wikipedia’s Definition of Bento