Packing Your Kids’ Lunch: Bento Box Fun {DIY Lunchables}

by Cate on September 10, 2012

Nick's lunch - Monday
The kids know that I hate Lunchables.

And I apologize for offending those that buy them.

I *do* cave once in awhile, and as The Ex said last week, “You used to buy them all the time when Nick was Madeline’s age.”

Yes. That was before I knew better.

How about a DIY Lunchable that you can feel better about giving your kids?


I have a collection of bento boxes, small containers, separators, and the like. All designed to make lunch fun. And mostly guilt-free.

You call the shots, and your kids get the fun of a lunchable.

Win, win.

I introduced my friend, Patrizia, to the world of bento boxes, and this past Saturday, to the wonderful world of Mitsuwa (a Japanese grocery store about thirty minutes from us).

bento box madness
Hello bento box loveliness! They have a reasonably decent selection of bento boxes, and across the street, at another Japanese novelty-type store, you can find all sorts of picks, elastic bands, molds, separators (the picture above is from the place across the street); basically way more fun than the average person should have on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Or a lazy Saturday that includes juggling soccer commitments times two that all happen to occur at the same exact time, of course.

After filling out the ridiculous amount of paperwork that came home from the kids’ schools, and writing ten different (!!) checks for assorted school things (lunch, fundraisers, and more), I decided that Nick will take lunch from home twice a week (the other days will be supplemented by hot lunches that are offered, some of which are done as fundraisers that I want to support), and Madeline will bring lunch from home four days a week. So last night, after I gave the kids their dinner, I got to work on making their school lunches.

Madeline's lunch - Monday

Soppresatta. Cheddar cheese. Wheat crackers. Grapes. Two Oreos. And yogurt (packed separately).

Nick came over to check out what I was doing as I was cutting up the Cheddar and the salami.

“Are these for me and Maddie?”


“Wow, thanks for making me such a cool lunch.”

It’s always so nice when these small efforts get appreciated.

If you don’t have bento boxes, you can certainly still make your own DIY lunchable, using what you do have on hand (and hey! bento box lunches aren’t just for kids; you can totally take your brown-bagging days to a whole new level!). For Nick’s, I used a bento container, but silicone cupcake liners to keep everything separate. Madeline’s container has the compartments already included in it (although I did use one silicone cupcake liner). Four of those silicone cupcake liners also happen to fit perfectly in Tupperware’s sandwich containers, if you happen to have those, and a variety of other containers as well.

Madeline's lunch - closed
Use your imagination!

I know how easy it is to hit a wall when it comes to packing your kids’ lunches, especially since there are about 180 days that they need lunch for, and times that by two (in my case, at least). So as the new school year gets underway and we all get settled into new routines, I’ll be trying to share some of what we’ve been doing.

You know, for inspiration.

You can also check out this post from last week, with tons of good ideas and more awesome links to visit.

Bento box containers (and all its other components) can also be purchased from Amazon, and Bento USA as well ($6 flat rate shipping!).

Happy lunch packing!

Mitsuwa Marketplace
595 River Road
Edgewater, NJ 07020

PS A look waaay back … I think the last time I mentioned Mitsuwa was the first time I went, back in 2007, a month after I first started this web site. My, how blogging (particularly mine!) has changed since then!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Caron September 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Oooh! Those are so pretty. I do that too sometimes, but I don’t have containers anywhere near as spiffy as yours.
Sarah Caron recently posted..Multigrain Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies


Patrizia September 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm

thank you, a hundred times thank you! The kids love it..and its surprisingly addicting. I just wrapped up Bento Day 2!


Joanne September 11, 2012 at 6:37 am

Lunch definitely seems to be more fun to eat when it’s in a bento box! I’m sure the kids are THRILLED to eat out of it!
Joanne recently posted..Recipe: Edamame Cakes with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans {food matters project}


Ramona September 11, 2012 at 9:50 am

That really is a great way to fix their lunches. I don’t blame you at all for not wanting to buy the premade. Now you know exactly what they are putting in their tummies.

I wish there were a couple of oriental stores close to me. The couple that were in business are no longer there.


patsy September 11, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I haven’t bought lunchables in a long time! I hate that they are expensive with what little they have in them… I do wonder how you keep the bento boxes cold? Do they have a slot for a cold pack or something? That’s one of the reasons I stick with an insulated lunch box for each of my boys… between yogurt and lunch meats, I want to make sure they stay chilled until lunch time.
patsy recently posted..Frozen Treat Social – Ice Cream Memories (and a Giveaway!)


LunchingMomma September 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Lunchables aka sodium hell! Thanks for the bento ideas- we don’t have a cute store to get them from, so I have been slowly collecting items from Amazon. I have a 6 y/0 who loves pb&j but gets bored with all the other fruits/veggies so these can help me get creative!
LunchingMomma recently posted..Orangey Veggie Goodness


yinmom yangmom allie September 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

thanks for the inspiration! great post… & congrats on the daily buzz top 9 feature. i’ll definitely be stealing your ideas!
yinmom yangmom allie recently posted..Anti-Depressant Lip Gloss


Denise September 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Yet another reason my son says u r the coolest mom!


Melanie November 11, 2012 at 12:59 am

I’ve just used the silicone cupcake holders and separators too – and then stumbled on your site. It works wonders and looks cute too.


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