The simplest definition of bento is a boxed lunch. But even though you’re thinking “inside the box,” bento boxes for your kiddos are meant to be cute and a little silly. Whether you consider yourself creatively challenged or not, you can make these lunch boxes a fun way to include your little one’s favorite treats along with healthy snacks. From edible animals to cool cutouts, these 12 bento box ideas will give you some inspiration on where to start in making the coolest packed lunches ever.


1. Monkey Bento: Mix things up by making a sandwich out of English muffins instead of bread. Continue the monkey theme with a banana and some cheeky crackers. (via Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons)


2. Dino Bento: How adorable is that polka dotted dinosaur egg in the nest of pretzels? The dino sandwiches are actually easy to make with a cookie cutter and some quick spiky cuts of lunch meat. (via Wendolonia)


3. Cutout Shapes: If you think putting together a bento box is a lot of work, then you just need to pick up some cookie cutters. Kids go crazy for food in fun shapes, and you might even get them to try something new if it’s disguised as a flower. (via Love from the Oven)


4. Stick to Basics: The fun thing about a bento box is that you can literally cut up anything into cute shapes and the kids won’t care that it’s not fancy, prepackaged food. Make a list of their favorite carbs, fruits, veggies and proteins and then pick a couple from each category for a perfectly balanced meal that takes almost no prep time. (via Wendolonia)


5. Piglet Bagel: Satisfy their sweet tooth with this special strawberry cream cheese bagel spread and lots of fresh fruit sides. (via She Knows)


6. Owl Bento: Um, will someone please come pack our lunch for us? These owls are almost too cute to eat, but your kids won’t have a problem devouring them. (via Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons)


7. Princess Bento: Fruit leather was made for bento boxes and is the perfect piece of decor for this girly box. Cut out cool shapes and decorate the sandwich — the sticky factor will keep it together even if the box gets dropped. (via Meet the Dubiens)


8. Waffle Mouse: PB&J with waffles is obviously the coolest new sandwich on the block. Who doesn’t love breakfast for lunch? (via Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons)


9. Teddy Bear Bento: You can use peanut butter to hold this adorable teddy bear together, and the chocolate chip details double as dessert. Fill the other side with snacks like yogurt, pretzels, cheese cubes and fresh fruit. (via She Knows)


10. Toy Decor: You don’t even have to worry about cutting out fancy shapes or creating an animal out of pretzels to make a bento box cool. Little toys, paper cutouts and stickers all work together to make lunch more fun for the kids and easier on you. (via Meet the Dubiens)


11. Tiny Portions: Even if you’re creatively challenged, your kids will love the idea behind bento box lunches. Having a bunch of little samples to eat is always more fun than just having one big sandwich and a piece of fruit. (via They Smell)


12. Minion Lunch: You can draw right on the banana peel and make the rest of the minion pieces with grape fruit leather, cheese and candy googly eyes. (via Foodtastic Mom)

Have you tried making a bento box lunch? Tell us what you created in the comments below!