with the California Home Goods Bento Lunchbox
To help your kids grow big and strong it is without a doubt vital for them to eat fruits and veggies. But if you’re a parent of such picky eaters (who aren’t), you’d know for a fact that accomplishing this is no joke. That when you have finally discovered the trick to making them wholeheartedly eat foods that basically came from plants, then you might as well get the ‘Best Parent’ award.
But don’t get pressured and all, because just like what they always say, “To each his own.” Whatever it is that you deem is necessary and effective for your growing children, then do it. What matters is that you do everything to make them get the nutrients their developing little bodies need.
And to help you out, here are some of our favorite bento box combos, incorporated with the most clever and creative recipes you can make to help your picky eaters eat more veggies. Hope these will help:
The Best Spaghetti & Meatballs for Kids
If your kid is a sucker for spaghetti and meatballs, then use that to your advantage! Here’s a little spin on the classic Italian favorite that’ll cleverly make your kids eat veggies without them knowing it!
For the meatballs
300g good quality pork sausage (about 4 large or 8 chipolatas)
500g lean beef, minced
1 small onion, coarsely grated
1 carrot, finely grated
1 tbsp dried oregano
50g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
1 medium egg
1 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 courgette, coarsely grated
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tbsp tomato purée
pinch caster sugar
splash red wine vinegar
2x 400g tins chopped tomato
Squeeze all the sausage meat out of the sausage skins into a large bowl and add the mince. Tip all the rest of the meatball ingredients, except the olive oil, into the bowl and season with black pepper then squish everything together through your hands until completely mixed. Roll the meatball mix into walnut-sized balls and place them on a plate.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the courgette and garlic and cook for 5 mins until soft and mushy. Stir in the tomato puree, sugar and vinegar leave for 1 min then tip in the tomatoes and simmer for 5 mins. If your children like courgettes then you can leave the sauce chunky. If you know they hate courgettes then blitz the sauce with a hand blender – either way continue to simmer sauce gently while you cook the meatballs.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and, working in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides then pop them into the sauce – continue to simmer the sauce for 15 mins, stirring very gently until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with cooked spaghetti, extra grated Parmesan and a few torn basil leaves.
BENTO BOX COMBO TIP: Pastas are already very filling ‘complete’ meals in and of itself. But should you want to make the most out of the compartments of the bento lunchbox, put cheese crackers or crostinis on one and then a fruit cup on the other for dessert.
Deep Dish Kiddie Pizzas
Kiddie pizza lovers, rejoice! If your children are crazy for anything pizza, then consider yourself lucky because the possibilities are just endless when it comes to ‘hiding’ veggies in them. The traditional flatbed round pizzas aren’t really effective in concealing the greens and the yellows. But creative renditions like pizza roll-ups and this deep dish recipe always do the trick:
1 package Crescent Roll Dough
Mini Pepperoni Slices (or slice them yourself from mini pepperoni sticks), or bacon if your kids love bacon more
Grated Mozzarella Cheese
1 small can of Pizza Sauce
Onions, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
Lay the crescent roll dough on a cookie sheet and cut out 12 circles (for the mini pizzas shown in the photos) or 12 squares (if you want larger pizza muffins). Place the dough at the bottom of each muffin cup. If you cut them into squares, overlap the corners so the top edge is even.
Layer the deep dish pizzas in this order: Cheese - Pizza Sauce - Veggies - Pizza Sauce - Cheese - Pepperoni - Cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan to give the top a little crunch.
Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and the crust is golden brown. Let them sit for 5 minutes before pulling the mini pizzas out of the muffin tin.
BENTO BOX COMBO TIP: To make eating these yummy mini pizzas more fun, you can put one of their favorite dipping sauces in one compartment of the bento lunch box (e.g. ranch, nacho cheese dip, etc.). For the other compartment, give those little palates a bit of texture by making them their own favorite trail mix. Depending on their preferences and allergies (if any), give them nuts, a bit of chocolate, dried fruit, mini pretzels, crackers, and others.
The Kiddie Cheese Plate w/ Veggie Croquettes
Know any kid who doesn’t love cheese? Well, we sure don’t. So if you kids are gooey cheesy lovers, then this one’s for you! Btw, disregarding the name, this recipe is nothing at all fancy nor difficult. And the best part is, while you picture your kids enjoying the cheese, think that they’re eating veggies too -- thanks to these Bacon & Broccoli Croquettes! So go and do follow:
400g floury potatoes, large ones cut in half
150g broccoli, broken into florets
1 medium egg yolk
40g mature cheddar, grated
Chopped bacon or bacon bits
60g fresh breadcrumbs
20g plain flour
2 medium eggs, beaten
100g sesame seeds (optional), replace with panko crumbs or crushed cheese crackers
4 tbsp olive oil
For the dip:
100g cream cheese
50g natural yogurt
1 tbsp chives, snipped
1-2 tbsp full-fat milk, if needed
Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and just cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 14-16 mins until completely cooked through. Drain and mash well, then put back in the saucepan over a low heat and cook for 1-2 mins, stirring constantly – this will remove excess moisture.
Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the broccoli and simmer for 6-7 mins until tender. Drain really well and pat dry with kitchen paper/ paper towel (it’s important to do this thoroughly as excess water will make the croquettes a little wet). Finely chop the broccoli, then add to the mashed potato with the egg yolk, cheese and fresh breadcrumbs. Divide the mixture into 12 equal balls and roll each one into a short sausage shape. Chill for 10 mins in the freezer.
Put the flour, beaten eggs and sesame seeds in three separate bowls. Roll the croquettes in the flour, dip in the beaten egg, then roll in the sesame seeds / panko / mashed crackers.Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and fry the croquettes on a low-medium heat for 4-5 mins, turning frequently for an even, golden colour. Drain on kitchen paper.
To make the dip, just put the cream cheese, yogurt and chives in a bowl and stir to a soft consistency, adding the milk if needed.
BENTO BOX COMBO TIP: Now that 2 compartments are already used up by the veggie croquettes and the dip, set aside the other for a variety of chopped cheeses and roll-ups of ham, salami, or pepperoni (whichever is your kid’s favorite).
Try these recipes now and easily prep them with the California Home Goods Leak-proof Bento Lunch Boxes! Your kids will definitely love how arranged, mess-free, and appetizing their lunch meals are even after running or moving around with their lunchboxes.