Goldfish and PB&J seemed even more boring than usual once stories
went viral about what schoolchildren eat for lunch in other parts of the world. Seeing lunches that looked better than the majority of meals we eat on a daily basis had us reaching for inspirational cookbooks and searching Pinterest for ideas.
To feed that hunger for unique, fun foods that will keep students munching away,
we rounded up the coolest international lunchbox ideas we could find. Don’t worry about complex, multi-step recipes; although these meals are packed full of taste, they’re easy to prepare. For more detailed recipe instructions, visit the listed blog.
Photo credit: Fuss Free Cooking Vietnam
Vietnam is a country known for delicious entrées; a few are even easy enough to prepare that they can be tucked into a school lunch. This banh mi wrap from
takes all the delicious flavors of that iconic sandwich and wraps them up for lunchtime. Fuss Free Cooking
Place spicy grilled chicken in a wrap with a rainbow salad mix of pea shoots, red chiles (optional), onion, shredded cabbage, shredded broccoli, shredded carrots, lime slices and a handful of coriander. Roll it all up and slice into easy-to-hold portions. Your kids will munch it right up.
Photo credit: Me and My Shadow Sweden
embraced the Euro lunch with a week of European-inspired lunches, showcasing dishes from Spain, Italy and other nations. One favorite: Sweden. Me and My Shadow
Parents will love this inspired lunchbox meal for its incredible ease. Everything included is easy to find at your local grocery store, and often premade: rye bread, cheese, cucumber and orange slices, a hard-boiled egg and smoked salmon. Also included: some homemade ginger biscuits (which you could easily swap out with store-bought gingersnaps). Swedish flag topper not included.
Photo credit: Yummily Yours India
This recipe for chana masala from
is so simple, you could even make it in the morning before school. All you need is 30 minutes — half of which is cooking time — and soon you’ll have a lunchbox meal that’s the envy of the whole class. Plus, it’s mild enough to entice even the more spice-averse. Yummily Yours
You’ll need a can of chickpeas along with cinnamon, cumin, paprika and garam masala (all can be found at your local grocery). Mix the chickpeas and spices with sautéed onions, ginger-garlic paste, chopped onions and chopped tomatoes. Add some rice and naan or a spoonful of yogurt.
Photo credit: Bento Zen France
A French picnic lunch, like this one from
, is sure to delight! Simply pack a turkey-and-ham pocket sandwich. Then, add some blueberries, Brie, cornichons (i.e., gherkins) and a few fresh veggies to achieve that French foodie flair. For a hungrier eater, toss in a French-style yogurt. Bento Zen
Photo credit: Lemons for Lulu Mexico
takes a Mexican classic and makes it even better. This spin on the beloved taco is a perfect lunchbox item; it’s even freezable! Lemons for Lulu
Cut refrigerated pie dough into circles and add cooked ground beef, taco seasoning, black beans and cheddar cheese between two pieces of the dough. Then bake the mini taco for — it’s a dish that will have your kids clamoring for more. For an even simpler recipe, ditch the pie crust and use tortillas instead. Add guacamole and/or salsa for extra kick.
Photo credit: Bento Monsters Japan
The Japanese are masters of bento, which has inspired many a parent. Bloggers such as La Fuji Mama and Little Japan Mama have some fantastic posts on traditional Japanese bento lunches. For beginners, try this recipe from
. Basically, these are sandwich rolls made with flattened sandwich bread and filled with tuna; place alongside some fresh fruit. Note how the sandwich rolls are dressed up with fun faces, accompanied by a few traditional bento touches. Bento Monsters
Photo credit: Make-Ahead Meals