Chicken is a favorite food for most kids and the great thing is that it can be eaten cold which means it is perfect for kids lunches. I’m working with Sanderson Farms right now (disclosure – I am being compensated) and they asked me to come up with some bento box type lunches for the back-to-school season.
Sanderson Farms was started in 1947 and is the 3rd largest poultry provider in the nation. The work hard to provide the consumer demand for affordable, lean protein products and are committed to keep their hometown values of honesty, integrity and innovation.
Bento is from the Japanese and is a meal packed in a box or boxes all in one bundle. They have shops just for bentos as well as people making them at home for their families. Japanese homemakers actually can spend a lot of time creating themed bentos that resemble characters, they even have contests for this. Today people all over the world, especially in the USA, are being inspired by these traditional bento boxes when creating lunches for their family. Some folks are still super creative, but you can be more basic as well. Creating a meal with foods your family members love is really what is most important.
Bento box lunches are both for kids and adults. Kids may have simpler ingredients, but the adults can make them much more complex in flavor if they like. My suggestions today are thinking of school aged kids, but many adults would like them too. You can change it up however you like.
The actual bento boxes come in all sorts of styles and price points. What I am using in the photos is actually a Rubbermaid Lunch Blox for Kids set (I found them at Target). It has multiple containers, in varying sizes, as well as a cooler block that you freeze ahead that will keep the food chilled during the day until lunch time.
All of my lunches today feature Sanderson Farms chicken. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts that I grilled and sliced ahead of time. If you are already cooking chicken for a dinner, just throw several extra pieces in so you can use that chicken for lunches throughout the week. I did this with chicken bowls recently as well for me and my daughter-in-law, Caitlan.
Classic American Lunch
For the first idea today I’m including some pretty basic lunchbox food items that kids enjoy. We have our slices of grilled Sanderson Farms chicken breasts, cubes of sharp cheddar cheese, plain almonds, Triscuit crackers, carrot sticks, broccoli florets, fresh strawberries and blueberries, and just a few Goldfish crackers. Ranch dressing would be a good inclusion in this box if your kids like a sauce to spread or dip also.
Mini Bagel Chicken Sandwiches
Mini bagels are a favorite in my home and they were on sale this week. You can use them as they are in the package or you can toast them before packing into the bento box. You can also slice them into multiple layers and bake in the oven on low heat to create your own crispy bagel chips. In my lunch I included the Sanderson Farms chicken, sliced grape tomatoes (to make them sit on the sandwich easier), and a wedge of spreadable Asiago cheese. Along with the bagel sandwich items I included fresh blueberries, carrot sticks, and broccoli.
Mediterranean Chicken Bento
Pita bread is easily found in stores these days. I used a half of a pita, cut in half again, inside the box. Extra tip – you can cut pita bread into wedges, separate the halves, and bake to make your own homemade pita chips. Inside the bento I also include Sanderson Farms chicken breast strips, slices of red bell pepper, quartered artichoke hearts, a spicy garlic hummus, Kalamata olives, and some watermelon.
Asian Chicken Bento Lunch
We had leftover rice in the fridge so I decided to use that in one of the lunches as well. I like cold rice actually. Along with the rice I included Sanderson Farms chicken breast that I had grilled, some red bell pepper strips, shelled edamame, carrot sticks, and I keep a few extra soy sauce packets from takeout so I threw in one of those. For something with a different texture I used seaweed snacks with wasabi which are very thin sheets and really yummy, think super thin chips. For a little sweetness I put in some champagne grapes – not Asian – but I love these little grapes!
Chicken and Waffles Lunch
What kid doesn’t love waffles too? I used the mini waffles that are easily found in the freezer section and went ahead and toasted them in the toaster and then put in the lunch box. I added the Sanderson Farms chicken breasts. You can add a little side dish of regular syrup, or if your kids are more adventurous mix up some chili garlic sauce with the syrup or even some plain yogurt with the syrup for something thicker. I included some fresh strawberries and some almonds for a little crunch.
More Bento Lunch Box Ideas
I have several other ideas for you as well but I didn’t have time to make all of them. Remember, you can add or remove any of the ingredients that you, or your children, would like for any of these lunches. There are no set rules for lunchboxes! Think about what your kids also will eat cold rather than hot when creating their lunches. Also, be sure to consider allergies of other children in the class, like peanuts, before you pack a lunch.
Chicken Taco Bento
Use some taco mix seasoning to grill your chicken, either ground or slices of it. Then include things like soft tortillas or “scoop” tortilla chips, shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado or guacamole, and sour cream.
Chicken Kebab Bento
For the older kids make kebabs for their lunch on wooden skewers. Alternate cubes of cooked Sanderson chicken, cheese, strawberries, grapes, artichoke hearts, olives, and any other bite sized pieces that your kids enjoy. Note that you need to make sure your child won’t decide the skewer is a sword or something after eating the food, we don’t want them to get in trouble!
BBQ Chicken Bento
Think about your favorite summer chicken barbecue for this lunch. Include pieces of cooked chicken, small cup of BBQ sauce for dipping, cold corn salad, watermelon, coleslaw and even cold baked beans.
I like to use soft flour tortillas for rollups. Include 2-3 tortillas for each lunch depending on their appetite. You can really create multiple varieties of this by changing the seasoning on the Sanderson Farms chicken and the ingredients to put into the roll up. If your child doesn’t do gluten, you could also use lettuce leaves for them to roll up the other ingredients in. Along with the chicken think about things like leftover seasoned rice, broccoli slaw, ranch dressing, shredded carrots, red pepper slices, and shredded cheeses.
Roasted Bento Box
We roast and/or grill a lot of things in our home and they make fabulous leftovers for lunches. Include pieces of roasted Sanderson Farms chicken along with any kind of roasted vegetable (asparagus, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, etc.) and fruits (grapes, peaches, pineapple, etc.) in the bento box.
Chicken Pasta Salad Lunch
If you have made pasta salad be sure to make extra because it is perfect for lunches. Add some slices of grilled Sanderson Farms chicken breast slices on top for a super easy lunch.
Have you been inspired for your kid’s lunches or even your own? What kinds of things would you put into a bento box for a lunch?