*Patrick Rhone is a writer living in Saint Paul, MN with his wife and six-year-old daughter. The best way to get to all of his online work is through patrickrhone.net.
When I first discovered the Bento Buff, I quickly realized that I had been making Bento lunches for my little girl for years without even realizing it. My daughter has always been a “grazer” — she doesn’t usually eat a whole lot of any one thing. Instead, she prefers to eat a little bit of a whole lot of things. She’s been that way since she began eating solid food. So, when the time for her to go to school, I aimed to make her healthy and affordable lunches that matched her eating style.
I use some Ziplock Three Compartment Storage Containers that I purchased at Target. These have lasted through two full school years — going on three. Though these were obviously made for a sandwich and some sides, my little girl doesn’t eat whole sandwiches so I needed to find other creative ways to break up the large space into smaller ones. Often times, this can be accomplished with something long enough that it fits diagonally across the space. A cheese stick, yogurt tube, or small banana often does the trick.
Above, we have a bento lunch of smoked salmon, fresh raspberries, a tube of strawberry-banana yogurt, some goldfish crackers, and a couple of sandwich cookies. Though not apparent in the picture, the yogurt tube will fit diagonally across with the ends bended slightly and I’m able to put the lid on. This then goes into her insulated soft-sided lunch box and zips right up. I find it rather spiffy.
Not all bentos boxes need to be fancy themed artistic creations. Sure, you often want the presentation to be beautiful but many times simple wins the day. Especially, when it is a kid’s school lunch because in this day and age, frankly and sadly, kids are not given enough time at lunch to appreciate something more fancy.
That said, my daughter has always appreciated the lunches I make for her. She sometimes gets in on the decision making of what to put in and where as well. This style of lunch may not work for every kid but, for us, bento is the only way to go.