Bento lunch boxes are all the rage but what do you fill all those little compartments with? Building your child’s bento lunch box with the right foods will not only give them a great lunch, but gives you the opportunity to introduce your child to new foods, tastes, flavors and textures. Taste training is so important for elementary to middle school aged children so that they grow up to become teenagers and adults who are exposed and appreciate all kinds of cuisines.

There are many parents who ask me for advice about they’re about their kids being “picky eaters”. My response is always the same. My kids may seem like they’ll eat anything, but they don’t! They hate mushrooms, they can eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I also need to get creative sometimes about how to get them to eat their broccoli. But in my experience, what gets my kids to try new foods and expand their palette is to continually introduce them to different kinds of foods, cuisines, textures and flavors. They may cringe at the sight and taste of it at first, but if you continually expose them to these foods, eventually their tastes will mature and they will learn to like new foods.

NO MORE “KID’S MEALS”
Get rid of the notion of meals specifically for kids. Kids shouldn’t eat any differently than adults. Toss the frozen chicken nuggets and French fries and start to feed them what you would eat yourself. A great idea is to give them a different variation of what they’ve been used to. Do your kids love pepperoni pizza? Try making Spinach Artichoke Pizza!

MIX TEXTURES AND FLAVORS
What makes bento boxes great are the compartments where you’re able to add different foods. When building your kid’s bento lunch box, think of each box as a chance for you to give them a complete meal. The boxes in your bento lunch box can showcase a variation and mixture of something sweet, savory, crunchy, and other textures and flavors.

Examples:

Bento lunch box 1: Garden salad, chocolate puff cereal, sliced apples, ham and cheese quesadillas.

Bento lunch box 2: Ham and Veggies Spaghetti Salad, sliced grilled or rotisserie chicken, mini cupcake, carrot sticks

Bento lunch box 3: Rainbow Carrots and Edamame Fried Rice, potstickers, pineapples and mangos, vanilla yogurt.

Don’t be afraid to share new foods with your kids. Like my grandma always says, “They may not eat at first, but once they feel hunger, you’ll be surprised when they start to eat what you wanted to!”

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