Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese – the ultimate winter belly warmer!

slow cooker lentil bolognese

Full disclosure – this article ‘Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese’ may contain affiliate links.

This Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese recipe is ridiculously versatile. By changing the herb and spice profile it could be a pasta sauce, a taco filler or even a nachos or baked potato topper.

The kids will love it in their thermos with pasta for lunch during the cooler months too.  Just remember to heat the thermos before filling it with hot food.  This way the food will stay hotter for longer.  Another option is to use a lunchbox with a built in thermos, such as the OmieBox.

Why not get the kids involved with preparing the lentil bolognese by chopping the veggies with some kids knives?  It’s a great way to encourage fussy eaters to become more comfortable with new foods.  (Use code littlepeepseats10 and save yourself 10%!)

Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese

  • Serves 6-8 people
  • Prep time: 5-10 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 hours in a slow cooker. 

What you need:

  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 1 brown onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of dried brown lentils
  • 3 cups of veggie broth
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • ½ zucchini finely diced
  • 2 tbs of tomato paste
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano

What you do:

  • Dice up your onions, garlic, carrot, zucchini and tomatoes.
  • Place the slow cooker pot onto the stove and pour in the olive oil. Heat it slightly and then add in the diced onion and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Remove the slow cooker pot off the stove and pop it in the slow cooker holder.  (If your slow cooker can not be used in this way, simply use a fry pan to saute the onion and garlic before adding to the slow cooker.
  • Add in the carrot, zucchini, tomatoes, lentils, veggie broth, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt and oregano.  Stir to combine and then pop the lid on a leave it to slow cook for at least 4 hours.
  • 20 minutes before serving, remove half of the mixture and pulse it for a few seconds in a blender to bring the mixture together. Pour the pulsed half back into the main mixture and if there is too much liquid, leave the lid off and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Serve with pasta, as a side for tacos or even as a topping of nachos.


Mandy x

If looking for more delicious belly warmers?  You may enjoy our Roasted Pumpkin, Carrot and Cauliflower Soup!

Mandy - Little People NutritionMandy is the Founder of Little People Nutrition as well as being a mum to 3 little peeps of her own.  As a university qualified nutritionist and food scientist she is passionate about children developing a positive relationship with food. Mandy has written a book called ‘At My Family Table‘ to start a conversation between parents/carers and children about food, family and the world. She believes that a great way to build a positive relationship with food is to share a meal together.  Food is nutrition and health, but so much more!



Kids bento lunch box ideas with a Japanese twist!

Kids bento lunch box ideas sushi

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!

Japanese Curry

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.

kids bento lunch box ideas Japanese curry



  • 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.

Kids Bento Lunch Box Ideas - Japanese Curry

Sushi Rolls

Kids bento lunch box ideas sushi

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.

Prawn Katsu

Kids Bento Lunch Box Ideas - Prawn Katsu

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.

kids bento lunch box ideas prawn katsu

  • Shallow fry at medium to high heat until golden brown.

kids bento lunch box ideas prawn katsu

  • 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.

kids bento lunch box ideas chicken karaage

  • 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.

Optional sauce

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!

Kids bento lunch box ideas chicken 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!

Looking for more mealtime inspiration?  Check out my top 10 recipe websites for menu planning!

Rachel Cassidy - Owner, Little Peeps Eats


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.


Homemade Easter Eggs with Coconut Caramel Filling

Homemade Easter Eggs

At Easter time, there are easter eggs and chocolate just about everywhere you look!  As a parent with young children, this used to cause me a bit of grief. How much sugar is in them?  What other nasty ingredients are lurking?  How can I keep them from a sugar binge and subsequent meltdown? Learning to make my own chocolate Easter eggs solved my problems and these homemade Easter eggs filled with a delicious coconut caramel are no egg-caption.

Continue Reading →

Homemade Cacao Nib Muesli Bars – A tasty lunchbox snack!

homemade cacao nib muesli bars

This article Cacao Nib Muesli Bars – A tasty lunchbox snack is a collaboration between Little Peeps Eat and Adventure Snacks.

Confession time. Sometimes the thought of cooking from scratch, wondering if I have all the ingredients, etc just hurts my tired mumma head. I just want someone to tell me YES!  This is healthy. YES! You have all the ingredients. YES! It’s lunchbox friendly.  That’s where these Homemade Cacao Nib Muesli Bars come in….Continue Reading →

Cheesy Vegetable Muffins – Kid approved and full of goodness

Cheesy vegetable muffins

I’m always on the hunt for ways to get extra veggies into the boys.  Whilst I always serve up vegetables at dinnertime, I don’t think they eat quite enough to meet the daily nutritional requirement.  For this reason, I’ve been getting creative with how I can incorporate veggies into other meals of the day, and most recently these Cheesy Vegetable Muffins have been a favourite lunch option.Continue Reading →

Mini Wholemeal Pizzas – a tasty lunchbox treat or dinner for the kids!

Mini Wholemeal Pizzas on a tray

Disclosure: This post on Mini Wholemeal Pizzas may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.

Julian and Orlando both love pizza, we often make up a batch for dinner and freeze the rest to pack in lunchboxes!  This recipe for Mini Wholemeal Pizzas is so easy and a great recipe to get the kids in the kitchen helping to make.  We love our Foost Knife or getting the boys involved in the preparation of these!

Feel free to be creative with your toppings!  Other great toppings include capsicum, mushrooms, olives, spinach, feta, sausage.Continue Reading →

Apricot, Chia & Coconut Bliss Balls

Apricot, Coconut and Chia Balls

Thank you to the lovely Kanda from  All for Myself for writing this blog and sharing her delicious Apricot, Chia & Coconut Bliss Balls recipe with us!  Over to you Kanda…

Bliss Balls are a snack that is enjoyed by my whole family.  As a mum, life is busy and my energy reserves tend to start to deplete mid afternoon.  These Apricot, Chia & Coconut Bliss balls are a source of natural energy help to give me the boost I need to get through the rest of the day.

My kids love them too, and I love that they are a sweet yet nutritious snack that will satisfy their hunger and keep them from raiding the pantry!  They fit perfectly into the lunchbox, and I love that they freeze so well which means I can have a supply of them ready to go.Continue Reading →