Brown Bagging it with Bento Boxes
Brown Bagging it with Bento Boxes are the perfect lunch solution. Whether you are headed to the office, packing a lunch for the kids, or just want to have a quick bite prepared for yourself in the refrigerator.
My husband and I both work from home and it seems like we are constantly preparing meals; 3 meals a day at home can start to become a chore. In order to make life a little easier I have started to prepare Bento Boxes. These are a type of grab and go snack box, perfect for lunch or dinner, when we are both just too busy or too tired to cook. The term bento comes from Japanese cuisine for a single-portion, take out, or a home-packed meal. While a traditional asian style Bento contains rice or noodles, a protein such as fish or meat, with a side of pickled or cooked vegetables. Today the term is more loosely used for a variety of snack based boxes that contain a source of protein, vegetables, and fruits. They also make great healthy snack options for those days you might decide to binge watch some Netflix, and if you have them separated in portioned containers it will keep you from over indulging. I would also imagine that for families these could also be a great option for Back to School lunches, as they can be custom designed to meet all kinds of dietary requirements. You can even add some really cute dishwasher safe custom lables available from Minted. The ones below are perfect for food allergies and warnings which are so prevalent these days, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
*I was compensated for this post. Please note that this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. These involve no extra cost to you, but may result in me receiving a small commission – for which I am very grateful! You can view my full advertising disclosure here.
We personally like to use the single serve nut butters and hummus which is a great way to keep our portions in check. Along with the single serve cheese stick options now available in different types of cheese, aside from the old standard mozzarella string cheese. Now you they make more gourmet versions like sharp cheddar and gouda, which is our favorite. We even like the laughing cow cheese, too. However, we tend to pass on the baby bels, as they have a long family story; that ends with a moldy one found stuffed in my first car's backseat cushions, by my grandmother with Alzheimer's disease, 3 years after she had passed away. So, we are not as keen on eating those much anymore, lol. Another tip I always like to recommend is to soak your apple slices in lemon juice, or some form of citrus juice to preserve them. This is what keeps the apples from turning brown. So, when you see those prepackaged apples at the store and wonder what the juice is in the bag, it is basically lemon juice. I always like to try and have a protein, fruit, vegetable, and carb in each of the boxes. This particular box, I am using the cheese and peanut butter as my protein source. I also love these wheat bread sticks, they are a nice low carb with good flavor and great crunch. Plus, they give you extra dippers for your peanut butter or hummus. Hard boiled eggs also make a great low fat high protein option and fit nicely into the boxes. Another great protein option could be a dried fruit mix like a trail mix, smoked almonds or Pistachios which all contain good fats and a bunch of flavor. Just be carful, if these are going to schools I know they have nut rules in place these days. I also do themed boxes depending on what is on sale at the store, below I have created an Italian/ Mediterranean box which I have added in Pepperoni, olives, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella chunks, breadsticks, roasted red pepper hummus and grapes. Think of it like a deconstructed pizza. Also don't forget something a little sweet, I like to use a seasonal fruit if possible. However, you can get apples and grapes year round. I do like the antioxidant properties of blueberries, strawberries and cherries, which pair nicely with the cheeses and nuts. Another great tip I have is to use cupcake liners to keep the items separated in the boxes. If you are using tupperware that has little individual containers, that's great, but if not, the berries and nuts sometimes can get shuffled around during transport. This is a cost effective way to keep items in there places. Also they work great for porting out nut butters, and hummus too, if you are trying to save a few bucks with the single serves. At the end of the meal you just toss the liners away and it saves on mess too. Here are a couple of other great snack box options we substitute in that are not pictured:
- Shrimp Cocktail
- Grilled Chicken Bites
- Pepper Strips
- Lunch Meat Roll Up
- Pinwheel Sandwiches
- Banana Bites
- Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges
- Babybel Rounds
- Tuna Salad Cucumber Bites
- Trail Mix
- Parmesan Crisps
- Mini Waffles
*I was compensated for this post. Please note that this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. These involve no extra cost to you, but may result in me receiving a small commission - for which I am very grateful! You can view my full advertising disclosure here. Again these make amazing Back to School lunches and if you are thinking about this as a option for your picky eaters make sure you have them labeled properly. Along with the rest of there school supplies. Minted offers a great line of custom made, dishwasher safe labels in a ton of cute varieties. I have add a few of my favorite below along with a link for you your shopping convenience.