This article ‘Kids bento lunch box ideas with a Japanese twist’ is a collaboration between Little Peeps Eats and Baby Bento.
Bento boxes are fast becoming the most popular way to pack school lunches. They are a fabulous way of providing a variety of foods in that look fun and interesting. By making food more appealing, we can greatly increase the chances of kids trying new foods, and increasing their fruit and veggie intake.
The bento box originated in Japan, where back in the 5th century Japanese farmers, warriors and hunters would pack their lunches into multiple small boxes or sacks, to bring them into the fields. Given this rich cultural history, I thought it might be fun to share with you some kids bento lunch box ideas – with a Japanese twist! Here are a few simple recipes that you can recreate at home for your kids bento lunch box.
Kids bento lunch box ideas with a Japanese twist!
Featured bento box: OmieBox
I usually like to cook things from scratch but when it comes to our curry… I love using a Japanese curry mix. These can be purchased from any Asian shops or even Woolies and Coles in Asian section.
There are different spice variations to choose from, I get mild for the kids and spicy for myself. You can mix them to make the spice level to your liking as well.
You can serve it with Chicken Katsu (if so, you don’t need to add chicken to the curry), boiled eggs or cheese on top too.
- 2 chicken thigh fillets
- 1 onion
- 1 carrots
- 2 potatoes
- 1 Tbsp oil
- Water : see the package for the amount of water
- 1/2 box curry sauce mix
- Cut vegetables into bite size pieces (I tend to cup smaller for kids curry)
- Heat oil and brown chicken in a pot
- In the same pot, cook onions until soft. Add carrots and potatoes for a few minutes
- Add water to the pot. After it boils, skim fat and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 45 minutes until the veggies are cooked through.
- Remove from heat and add curry sauce mix. Stir well until the pieces of the mix dissolve.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes (cook longer if you’d like it thicker). Pour the curry over rice.
Featured Bento Box – Munchbox
Traditionally known as ‘Maki’, a sushi roll is typically made up of a combination of meat and/or fresh vegetables in rice, wrapped with roasted nori seaweed.
Sushi rolls are becoming a popular inclusion for a kids bento lunch box for good reason. Nutritionally, sushi rice is a great source of carbohydrates and has negligible fat. The seaweed wrapper nori is rich in iodine.
You can experiment with different fillings to suit to your child’s preferences.
Many people are daunted at the thought of making their own sushi rolls, but the process is actually quite simple. Here’s a short instructional video to show you how easy the process is, and I highly recommend this sushi maker to make it even easier!
Some popular sushi fillings for kids are:
- Teriyaki Chicken & Avocado
- Prawn Katsu, Carrot & Lettuce (recipe below)
- Carrot, Avocado & Cucumber
Add a squirt of Kewpie Mayo (traditional Japanese mayonnaise) for extra flavour (optional).
Note: Sushi rolls are not suitable for freezing, should be consumed the same day they are prepared, and kept cool in a good quality lunch bag and ice brick.
Featured bento box: Bentgo
Prawn Katsu is a popular Japanese dish that is versatile and very simple to make. They are so tasty and morish, I find there is never enough of them! These are a popular kids bento lunch box addition in Japan, and freeze very well too.
To make them is simple:
- 1 kg large green prawns (shelled)
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Start with a clean and organised workstation, have your prawns, flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in separate bowls.
- Dip each prawn into flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, and place into a bowl.
- Shallow fry at medium to high heat until golden brown.
- Place on paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
To include them in your kids bento lunch box, you can add them as is with a little dipping sauce (kewpie mayo or sweet chilli sauce both work well, or alternatively I love to add these to sushi rolls.
Chicken Karaage Pops
Featured bento box: Munchbox
Chicken Karaage (otherwise known as Japanese fried chicken), are deliciously tasty bite sized pieces of fried chicken that can be enjoyed in a number of ways:
- With rice for lunch of dinner
- As Karaage Pops – on a skewer (or ‘Stix‘ as shown in the photo) as part of a kinds bento lunch box
- In sushi rolls, on it’s own or with cucumber or avocado
The process to make Karaage Pops is simple:
- 500g chicken thigh fillets
- 3 table spoons of soy sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 table spoons of cooking sake
- salt and pepper
- 3 table spoons of potato starch (can get this in any Asian grocery store)
- Cut chicken fillets into bite size pieces
- Place chicken, garlic, soy sauce, sake and good pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Mix well and put aside to marinade for 30 minutes
- Sprinkle potato starch over the chicken and mix to coat well
- Deep/shallow fry* in vegetable or canola oil (no olive oil or sesame oil) 180 degrees until golden (in the photo, they were cooked them in an airfryer – non oil cooker)
- Place on to paper towel to absorb excess oil if necessary
- Cut the cooked chicken into smaller pieces and place on a skewer or Stix
These are delicious served warm or cold, so a convenient kids bento lunch box option.
I like mine served as is but you can dip them in Mayo (kewpie Japanese mayo of course!) or try Nanban sauce (sweet, sour, chilli sauce).
To make Nanban sauce, just mix below ingredients and poor them over your hot karaage!
- 3 table spoons of soy sauce
- 2 table spoons of sugar (I use brown sugar)
- 2 table spoons of vinegar (I use rice vinegar)
- 1 table spoon of cooking sake2 spring onions finely chopped
- Chilli – as much as you like (I used one birds eye chilli)
All of the lunchboxes and bento accessories featured in this article can be purchased from Baby Bento. Use code littlepeeps to access 10% of all products!
Rachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats. She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum! Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.