Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

In our CI Kitchen today, guest chef Lisa Lewey-Shields is talking all things Bento Boxes. From what they are and where they came from to how to assemble your own.

Bento ideas

Blueberry Muffin Lunch

Muffin lunches are so darn easy since you can make them ahead and simply throw them into a lunch box right before leaving in the morning. Here, I have them shown with baby carrots and applesauce. Shred or thinly slice the carrots for younger eaters.

Spinach Banana Muffin Lunch

Help the kids eat their greens by packing iron-rich spinach muffins for lunch. These are slightly sweet from the banana and store really well in the fridge or freezer. Pack with compartment of yogurt or cottage cheese and freeze-dried fruit.

Veggie Muffin Lunch

Use a bento box with an insulated compartment (like the Omiebox) and pack warm Veggie Muffins for lunch. Add a side of milk, cucumber sticks, and melon for an easy kids lunch.

Cheese and Cracker Box

Keep things simple with cheese and crackers, plus simple fruit and veggie sides like bell pepper, clementine, and peas. Quick and fun for the kids

Snack Box

Any assortment of snacks can become a healthy lunch if you mix nutrients from each food group. Pretzels, yogurt, strawberries, and snap peas; crackers, pepperoni, tomatoes, cherries…you see how to do it!

Taco Salad Box

Combine compartment of black or pinto beans, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, and corn. Add a side container of guacamole or salsa and some baked tortilla chips for a fun salad box lunch.

Tips for Packing the Best Bento Lunch Box Ideas

· Adjust the portions based on your child’s normal appetite.

· Pack with milk or water.

· Try to make sure the foods will be easy for your child to eat.

· Try to send foods your child usually likes.

· If your child eats lunch at preschool or daycare, ask for feedback from their teacher about how much they’re eating and any issues they’re having. · Close the bento and pack in an insulated lunch bag with a thin ice pack to keep the food safe.