30 Creative Bento Box Lunch Ideas Kids Will Love
Packing a lunch doesn't need to feel like a chore. Whether your child is a picky eater or you're trying to find new and creative ways to get them to look forward to school, a bento box is a surefire way to put together a delicious and nutritious lunch that's sure to delight. They'll love the fun, tasty contents, while you'll love the simplicity of packing up these boxed lunches.
Best of all, these lunch box ideas are not only fun to create, but they're also full of nutritious ingredients so your little ones leave the cafeteria or kitchen table feeling full and content. Start off by tapping into their imagination and craft a bento box packed with food characters that come to life with every bite, like our picnic-themed lunch pictured here. Sandwich cutters are easy to find in stores and take an everyday sandwich from average to something special in just a few seconds—like this cute cat. Use a flower punch cutter to embellish cubes of watermelon and decorate some hummus with an olive. For the child that loves monsters, or for a Halloween-themed treat, we're showing you how to put together a spooky bento box lunch, which includes a monster that is made from carefully cut apple. It has razor-sharp teeth and eyes that are crafted from cream cheese and honey or peanut butter. Or if you're packing up a lunch for a budding engineer, surprise them with a robot hot dog. All it involves is cutting a pre-cooked hotdog into various sections and anchoring the parts together with a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Cucumber, orange slices, and crackers round-out the bento box for a deliciously healthy meal.
No matter how you fill it, these bento lunch boxes and their contents are sure to add a little something extra to lunchtime. Find unique and flavorful meals that will spice up your kids' lunchtime, all neatly organized in a bento box for optimal ease.
Smiley Lunch Bento
Nothing brightens a kid's day quite so much as opening their lunch box to find their meal smiling up at them. Draw eyes with a food-safe marker, then make wedge-shaped cuts in a hard-boiled egg and some rainbow carrots to start the gang off. Add googly eye toothpicks to grape tomatoes and a sandwich to complete the crew—just be sure your little ones know not to eat the toothpicks.
Truly summer isn't over yet! Start this summery lunch by packing a bento box with lots of delicious warm-weather produce—nectarines, cucumbers, snap peas, and strawberries. Add some deli ham spirals and a slice of hearty bread topped with sunny cheese cut-outs to round out the meal.
A Box of Many Bites
A little bit of this plus a little bit of that equals a fun snack bento for lunch. We start with a multi-compartment bento box, then add soppressata salami, crunchy veggies, pretzel crackers, berries, and crispy dried mango strips.
Breakfast for dinner? How about breakfast for lunch? This box—packed for a preschooler—includes a couple of pancakes cut in half and stacked on top of each other, a small container of syrup, chicken apple sausage chunks, and a big handful of blueberries in a heart-shaped silicone cup. For an older child, increase the size of the bento box and add larger portions.
These spooky-cute monsters will delight your kids when they open their lunches. All it takes to make this lunch box idea are some icing googly eyes and a few quick cuts with a paring knife. Make the red monster by cutting a big chunk of apple to fit the lunch box. Cut the apple chunk into pieces using a zigzag pattern and then "glue" the eyes on with cream cheese, peanut butter, or a dab of honey. The meatballs are even easier—add the eyes and you're all set.
Garden of Bento
Lighten up tuna salad by preparing it with lemon juice and chopped cucumber, then pack it into a flower-shaped silicone cup with some pretty whole wheat crackers on the side. Spear ladybug and bumblebee picks into grapes and sugar snap peas to complete the garden scene.
Though it's fun to pull out cookie cutters and other bento tools, you don't need a lot of gear to pack a pretty lunch box. The key to a beautiful bento? Lots of color! For this fancier version of a grocery store snack box, we packed neat fans of crackers, salami and gouda cheese slices, bright rainbow carrot coins, two kinds of berries, and some small cookies.
Sandwiches don't always have to be packed on sliced bread—shake things up with a bagel sandwich. We kept the fillings vegetarian with simple cucumber and cream cheese, but you could add a little lox or sliced deli roast beef, too. Multi-colored pepper strips and fruit add a lot of bright color to this lunch, while pretzels provide crunch.
Autumn Leaves Bento
Celebrate the colors and flavors of fall with this bento box. Cut red, orange, and yellow bell peppers with a small leaf cookie-cutter and place them in a lunch box with a handful of mini-meatballs. Pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds add a bit of extra fall flavor, as does a serving of apple sauce with leaf sprinkles on top.
Brighten a ho-hum day with this brightly colored lunch. Start the rainbow with spirals of pink ham, then add red strawberries, orange carrots, yellow tomatoes, and green grapes. Finish with a small silicone cup of golden cheese crackers.
This hot dog robot is here to make lunch special and he's easy to assemble. Cut a pre-cooked hot dog into three sections, then cut one of the sections into quarters lengthwise. Use small pieces of dried spaghetti to build your bot: one piece for the head, another for the torso and the quarters for the arms and legs. Remind your child to remove the spaghetti before eating the hot dog.
Emoji cupcake toppers are a quick addition that you can tuck into servings of fruits and veggies in this healthy bento box perfect for lunchtime. If you have more time, add a cheese quote bubble and some text cut from a slice of turkey to the top of a sandwich. Carving a thumbs up into a chunk of apple will put it over the top and earn you a thumbs up.
A Caesar salad is a delicious bento box option that's fun to pack. Pack lettuce, cheese, and croutons in the largest section of the lunch box and put the dressing in a sealed container on the side to add at lunchtime. (This lunch box has a self-sealing leak-resistant lid, but you can use a small container if your lunch box doesn't have this feature.) Add a serving of sliced rotisserie chicken for additional protein. Some unsweetened yogurt with a dollop of jam is a nice treat to round out lunch.
A sweet breakfast sandwich (for breakfast or for lunch) will entice a picky eater. Defrost a leftover waffle (make a batch of our favorite waffles on the weekend and freeze the leftovers), cut the waffle into quarters, spread with cream cheese, and add strawberry slices. Fruit and veggies finish the lunch off in this stacked bento box.
Tacos and Trucks Bento
Combine two kid favorites—tacos and trucks—to make a cute but speedy lunch on a weekday morning. Pull four mini-tacos from the freezer, defrost them, and arrange them in the lunch box. Small toothpicks decorated with different types of trucks keep the tacos closed on the journey to school. Fill the rest of the bento box with fruits and veggies and a few more trucks for good measure.
A bento box with an integrated thermos opens up lunch choices significantly; you can include hot foods as well as cold ones. Layer refried beans, ground beef leftover from taco night, and a little cheese in the thermal area. Pack a drink, chopped tomatoes for a topper, and some chips to dip into the meat mixture in the rest of the lunch box compartments.
Starring Cheese and Crackers
When you make cheese and crackers lunches instead of purchasing them pre-made at the grocery store, you can take control of portion sizes and the quality of the ingredients. Try wrapping strips of deli-sliced ham around whole-wheat pretzels and cutting cheese slices into star shapes for an appealing presentation. Pump up the nutrition by adding two servings of fresh fruit.
Pretend you're lunching on a Mediterranean island while making this pretty snack bento box for your kid. We started with a creamy dill-yogurt dip then added pita chips and lots of vegetables to dunk into it. A few kalamata olives add a savory punch and a small tangerine contribute sweetness.
Snack on Some Soccer
Pay tribute to the beautiful game with this lunch. Decorate a circular PB&J with black food-safe markers so it looks like a soccer ball, then pair it with salami slices packed into a silicone cupcake holder, cheese crackers tucked into a soccer ball container (we used one leftover from Easter), and apple slices speared onto a soccer cupcake pick. For dessert, wrap a graham cracker sandwich filled with cookie butter and banana slices in an extra-long piece of sushi grass.
All Knotted Up
Add some tasty street food style to a bento lunch with soft pretzel knots. Use pretzels purchased in the freezer section at the grocery store, along with sliced cucumbers, melon wrapped with prosciutto (regular ham works, too), and a few gummies for a treat.
Beary Cute Bento
Your little one will adore this adorable bento lunch. A bear-shaped sandwich cut-out is extra sweet with a thin radish heart accent and cauliflower bites are cuter held together with pink jewel picks. A little pot of Roasted Beet Hummus for dipping adds a splash of pink.
Wrap It Up for Lunch
Drizzle roast beef slices and veggies with a little ranch dressing, then wrap them up in a large flour tortilla. Decorative wax paper and a strip of washi tape wrapped around the tortilla keep the sandwich rolled tight until lunch time. Add potato salad and berry-applesauce in air-tight side containers.
Taco Tuesday Bento
Kids and teens will love assembling their own tacos for lunch. Fill the lunch box with street taco tortillas, roasted chicken tossed with a little salsa, and sides of sour cream, chopped tomato, and shredded lettuce to top it all off.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
A lunch bento box loaded with a kid's favorite characters is always a fun lunchtime surprise. Use a stamping cookie cutter to make Darth Vadar sandwiches and a cupcake decoration in the shape of a Storm Trooper to decorate ham and pretzel sticks. Blueberries with a lightsaber toothpick, orange slices, and cucumbers finish things off.
Thread chunks of kid-pleasing string cheese, slices of salami, and cherry tomatoes onto skewers to make "pizza" sticks. Fill the rest of the lunch box with carrots, fresh figs, and cucumber slices.
A Trip to France
Upgrade your usual sandwich offering with this pan bagnat wrap. Gently toss sliced hard-boiled egg, black olives, and chopped cherry tomatoes with a vinaigrette, then wrap with lettuce leaves and a tortilla. Add sweet, sliced nectarines and a few crackers with cheese on the side.
From the Freezer Bento
Having a stash of lunch box-friendly foods in the freezer makes packing on weekday mornings a breeze. Here, we paired a homemade pumpkin muffin with store-bought dumplings and fresh fruit for a speedy and delicious lunch.
All Rolled Up
Tortilla roll-ups are fun to make and fun to eat. To prepare them, spread refried beans on a medium tortilla then top with shredded cheddar and chopped tomato. Roll up the tortilla, then slice it into even sections before packing into a stainless-steel bento lunch box.
A Is for Apple
An apple-shaped hand pie mold makes an innovative stuffed sandwich. Soft fillings work best, but use anything you like: egg salad, tuna, or PB&J all work well. Decorate the top of the sandwich by cutting the word "Apple" from fruit leather using small letter cutters. Finish the bento box with red and green fish crackers and cucumber slices cut into apple shapes.