Parents of peanut butter and jelly loving kids can be stumped by what to pack for lunch when their school has a nut-free policy. Packing a bento box with lots of compartments can be a good solution to this problem. Creative main dishes with several side dishes are fun to look at and so fun to eat that they'll never miss the PB&J.
Kids won't even notice that the peanut butter is missing from their PB&J if you cut the sandwich into a cute cat with a sandwich cutter! Add some turkey spirals for protein along with sugar snap peas, strawberries and fish-shaped crackers.
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With that French name, a jambon-beurre sandwich sounds exotic, but its simple filling of slice ham and butter on a piece of baguette is appealing to most children. Pack it into a bento box with blackberries, whole grain popcorn and some sugar snap peas on the side.
When you make your own version of a store-bought lunch kit, you can choose healthier options and add in lots of fruits and veggies. This lunch features spirals of low-sodium deli turkey, cheddar cheese stars, home-made fruit leather, crackers, sliced Persian cucumbers, strawberries and a few gummy candies for a treat.
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Asian dumplings are delicious and they taste just as good cold as they do warmed up. I keep a bag in the freezer for fast lunches like this one where I paired them with grapes, a pumpkin muffin and lots of fresh strawberries.
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Thread chunks of kid-pleasing string cheese, slices of salami and cherry tomatoes onto skewers to make antipasti sticks. Fill the rest of the lunch box with carrots, fresh figs and cucumber slices.
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A bagel with lox and cream cheese is just as yummy as lunch time as it is at breakfast. Packing a half a bagel leaves room for lots of sides: sliced radish, a clementine "flower", rice crackers, corn and a few mini-marshmallows.
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Most kids like meatballs and I'm lucky that both of my boys enjoy them cold. When I made this bento box, I added edible eyeballs to the meatballs and to the apple slices to turn them into monsters.
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Mini-sausages are always a hit with my boys especially when they're packed into a bento box with some of their other breakfast favorites: big slices of grapefruit, dried cranberries, a muffin, snap peas (I had to get some veggies in there), and a few pretzel sticks for crunch.
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Sliced prosciutto is delicious wrapped around crunchy bread sticks! (Regular ham would work well too.) Pack them into one section of a multi-compartment bento box , then fill the rest of the sections with other snacky items: apples, oranges, Pirate's Booty, and cucumbers with dip.
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Sunflower Seed Butter Sandwich
Swap sunflower seed butter for peanut butter on a sandwich and you'll get really close to the lunch box favorite. To add a bit of fun, use a small cookie cutter to cut a shape from the top slice of bread and press some sprinkles down into the seed butter that peeks through.
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