Bento challenges – Balancing nutrition with fun

I’ve been making the girls bento boxes for right at a month now, without much of an update, but lots of progress has been made.

I read lots of bento blogs already, so I knew the basic concept along with the really creative, artistic side of things, but in practice, some of it was harder than expected. Here are some of the problems we’ve run into and how they were overcome.

  • Challenge – Incorrect sized bowls
    This is a biggie because the whole idea behind bento boxes is portion control. It was a spur of the moment decision to start sending them, so I made do with what we had. I had too-small bowls and too-large bowls, but nothing in between really, or at least not 3 of any given size.

So I took the too-large bowls and improvised. A slab of styrofoam wrapped in aluminum foil in the bottom of each bowl cut the room in half. Then I bought more appropriate-sized bowls over the weekend. They’re still slightly larger than they should be for kids, but I make it work.

  • Challenge – Water bottles

In that past when I’ve sent lunches, I tossed in a quarter, too, and they picked up a carton of milk. No milk means I needed to send drinks. The first couple days, I just refilled old water bottles, but those are flimsy, get squished, and the lids don’t always close the way they should.

    I assumed I’d keep using them actually, but while picking up a few other things at Dollar Tree, we found these:


Awesome. The best part is, the color options they had were exactly the colors I would need to match their lunch bags. No really, they were the perfect colors, see?

They’re a great size, seal well, and the girls like them, so works for me.

  • Challenge – No fancy silicone cups to separate possible messes

Ideally, I would have little cups like those to separate any potential liquidy items. Or items that would have a tendency to go all over the bento box if flipped upside down or something (because the cup tops would press tightly against the bento lid, keeping loose items in place regardless).

Instead, I’ve taken to improvising.

Here, I stacked some crackers and used a paper muffin tin liner just touch the top of the lid and help hold the contents in place.

In the same one, I also had a paper towel cradle to hold some frozen strawberries that I knew would thaw by lunch time and could be quite the mess.

^ A simple divider to help keep the pasta sauce from mixing with the greek salad dressing.

If all else fails, I have some tiny glad bowls with lids to guarantee certain foods will stay put. I’ve also used ziplocs a few times, just in case. While I enjoy doing the boxes because it cuts down on waste of things like baggies for sandwiches, chips, etc, I have no problem using a few here or there to keep things going smoothly.


  1. Leave a Reply

    Audrey's mom
    May 17, 2011

    I love all the tips! It has been hard for us as well because the girls are still so young. I use sandwich containers and they work well currently.

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