Foods that Make the Grade: Bento Box School Lunch Ideas

Bento boxes are a great choice for your picky eater

By Charlotte Linde and Erika Veduccio August 4, 2020

Are you a mom of a kid who likes to munch? Or do you have a picky eater? We know packing school lunches can be a PITA -- and we don't mean the pocket bread kind! Whether your kids will be eating lunch at school or at home this school year, bento boxes can be a great way to keep kids eating healthy and ready to learn.

bento [ ben-toh; Japanese ben-taw ]
A meal, served in a box that is divided into sections for holding individual portions of food.

Bento boxes are a popular choice for kids because it gives them lots of options to choose from at lunch. Plus it's easy to pack a different lunch every day! 

Here are a few "out of the box" bento box lunch ideas that make the grade:


Wrap your child's favorite protein with veggies and their favorite toppings in a tortilla. Add a spread, wrap with love, and cut into pinwheels. 

Ingredient ideas:

  • Deli meat, pepperoni, or tuna
  • Sliced or shredded cheese
  • Shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, olives, cucumbers, sprouts
  • Cream cheese, mayo, mustard, or plain

Try our BLT or Shredded Chicken BLT recipes for school lunch!

Taco Locos

Deconstruct what you would typically use to make tacos. It's a fun way for your MacKid to enjoy their lunch!

Ingredient ideas:

  • Tortillas, corn chips, tortilla chips
  • Cooked ground beef, turkey, or cooked chicken cubed
  • Corn kernels
  • Avocado slices
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Black olives
  • Salsa


Deconstruct your typical sushi into different compartments to make each bite different. 

Ingredient ideas:

  • White rice
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Toasted seaweed
  • Avocado chunks
  • Dipping sauce of choice
  • Add a protein: Imitation crab, turkey, scrambled eggs, hotdog, or smoked salmon
  • Don't forget the chopsticks and fortune cookie! 

Za-salad bar

Just like at the all-you-can-eat salad bars — but all of their favorites. The sky is the limit! 

Ingredient ideas:

  • Lettuce, baby spinach, spring mix, sprouts
  • Shredded chicken, tuna, hard-boiled eggs and/or sliced deli meat
  • Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, mushrooms
  • Shredded cheese, cottage cheese
  • Black beans or chickpeas

The Traditional

Ok, so some of our kids still love sandwiches, and we do too! 

Traditional school lunch items that work in a bento box:

  • Favorite sandwich
  • Sliced carrots
  • Mixed nuts (if your school allows them)
  • Sliced apples, grapes, and/or fresh berries

Other fun "out of the box" ideas:

Sticky Stacky Sandwiches

Jar Salads

Peanut Free Lunches


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