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Bento Box Packed Lunch Ideas for Kids and Adults

It’s easy to make healthy packed lunches for kids and adults using a bento box. Use the healthy bento box packed lunch ideas for kids and adults above to make a balanced meal. School lunches sometimes get a little boring and repetitive, but these bento box packed lunch ideas will help you spice it up a bit. The free school lunches are mostly made up of processed food that lack fiber and fresh fruits and veggies. These bento box lunches are easy to prepare ahead and a much healthier option to the school lunches. They will also help your child learn to pack and eat healthy options for life.

Bento Box packed lunches are great for adults too. Make a quick and easy well balanced packed lunch for work. Packing a lunch saves time and money. No more waiting in line for food on your lunch break. Just sit down and enjoy your packed bento box, then use the extra time for a relaxing walk instead of waiting in line.

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What are Bento Boxes?

Bento Boxes are lunch boxes with sections that separate the different food options. They originated in Japan and initially contained common foods from that region. Mostly rice, fish, pickled vegetables and some fruit, to make a balanced meal. Bento is a Chinese slang term for convenient, which is fitting since they are very convenient for packed lunches.

Why Choose a Bento Lunch Box?

The Bento box makes a very convenient lunch box. It is so simple to choose items to fill the sections. The sections encourage small servings of a variety of foods to help include more food groups to make a more balanced lunch. The convenient sections also reduce waste from packaging. If your box doesn’t have enough sections you can purchase extra dividers. You don’t have to wrap sandwiches in paper or plastic. Many items like yogurt and apple sauce can be purchased in bulk instead of individual servings which not only reduces waste but also saves money. Check out my other post for more ideas on how to save money on groceries.

Which type of bento box is right for you?

Bento boxes are made in a variety of different materials, shapes and layouts. They are also available in reusable and disposable format. Here are some pros and cons of each option:

Wooden Bento Box:

Traditional wooden bento boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can have a variety of layouts. Some are stacked. Pros: They are traditional, all natural, BPA free, stylish and reusable. Cons: They are difficult to clean, not dishwasher safe, not microwavable, and my be difficult for young children to open and close. Wooden boxes are not able to keep liquid ingredients separated.

Lacquered Bento Box:

Traditional lacquered bento boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These are most often found in restaurants. Pros: They are traditional, stylish, and reusable. Cons: Many do not come with tight lids for transport. If they do have lids, they may be challenging for kids to open and close. They are not dishwasher or microwave safe. They lack a tight seal and my not be great for liquids.

Plastic Bento Box:

Plastic bento boxes come in a large variety of shapes and sizes. These are the easiest type to use for a packed lunch. They are available in reusable and disposable varieties. Pros: They are lightweight, and easy to open and close, Plastic bento boxes can be dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe, and are often BPA free. Cons: They are not traditional. Disposable varieties are not good for the environment.

Metal Bento Box:

Metal bento boxes are the most durable option. Pros: They are easy to open and close, dishwasher safe and BPA free. Cons: They are not microwave safe. Metal boxes do not have a tight seal may not be the best option for liquids.

Glass Bento Box:

Glass bento boxes usually have plastic lids. Pros: They are microwave, dishwasher, oven and freezer safe. Glass is BPA free and lids usually are also. They have a tight seal. Cons: They are fragile and heavy.

Insulated Bento Box:

Insulated bento boxes come in a variety of materials. There are stainless steel insulated bento boxes or plastic bento boxes with ice packs and an insulated exterior bag. Pros: They keep food insulated. Cons: they may or may not be dishwasher or microwave safe.

Paper Bento Box:

Paper bento boxes are single use and disposable. Pros: They are lightweight and disposable. Perfect for situations when you do not want to carry a container around with you for the rest of the day. Cons: They will not handle liquid ingredients, and they can leak. Disposable products are not environmentally friendly.

What are some Healthy Bento Box Packed Lunch Ideas for kids and Adults?

The Asian Bento box

This traditional bento box includes: sushi, snow peas, pickled ginger, and kiwi.

Asian Bento Box

The Superfood Bento box

This bento box includes: Broccoli salad, blueberries, almonds, and Greek yogurt.

Superfood Bento Box

The Berry Nutty Bento Box

This bento box includes: Almond Butter and Jam sandwich triangles on Whole Wheat bread, blueberries, Greek yogurt, and granola. For a very healthy granola recipe check out my other post. This Bento box could also be a breakfast bento.

Berry Nutty Bento Box

The Quick and Easy Box

For this Bento Box I just used whatever I had in the fridge. This Bento Box includes: Pasta salad, Raspberries, Oranges, and a hard boiled egg. Use the chart above to make any box you would like using the current contents of your fridge.

Quick and easy Bento Box

Greek Bento Box

This Greek bento box includes a Greek salad, grapes, Hummus, and whole wheat Pita bread.

Greek Bento Box

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College Dorm Medications – Pharmacist Recommended

Pharmacist recommended College Dorm Medications

If you are getting ready to send your teen off to their college dorm? Look no further for some practical pharmacist recommended college dorm medications. These items will make a very helpful medicine and first aid kit. I am a pediatric pharmacist with over 2 decades of experience and I am also a mother of three teens. Obviously I need to caution that I cannot just give blanket recommendations because all medications have some contraindications and potential drug interactions. Always read the product safety information and/or speak directly with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other medications or have any health conditions or medication allergies.

Make sure your teen is up to date on immunizations and has a copy of their immunization record and health insurance card. Here is a link to the vaccine recommendations for 19-26 year-olds.

Always send all college dorm medications prescription and non-prescription in the original containers so your teen can read the instructions.

As a pharmacist I usually recommend single ingredient medications. It might save space to include multi-symptom cough and cold medications, but it is not worth the saved space to have you teen taking medications that are not needed. It is also easier to overdose on acetaminophen or ibuprofen with multi-symptom medications. Which is why my pharmacist recommended college dorm medications are nearly all single ingredient medications. I usually buy generic medications because they work just as well as brand name medications. Sometimes I prefer brand name medications due to better flavor.

Which medications should you bring to your college dorm?

Prescribed Medications

Please make sure your teen has all of their prescribed medications and knows how and where to obtain refills. If your teen is going out of state make sure they are still able to obtain refills in that state. All state laws are different, so make sure you have a plan in place ahead of time. Please also make sure your teen is aware of their medication allergies and what their reaction was to the medication. If your teen is taking any prescribed medications or has any medication allergies or health conditions, check with their doctor or pharmacist if any of the other medication listed are still safe to include in their kit.

Pain/Fever medication

Include a small bottle of Ibuprofen (MOTRIN, ADVIL) and/or acetaminophen (TYLENOL). The bottle size depends on how much how much you expect your teen will need. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are both good choices for pain or fever. They can both provide relief from a sore throat or headache. Ibuprofen is better for menstural cramps, tooth or bone pain, and is also an anti-inflammatory. It would also be a good idea to include a digital thermometer.

Gastrointestinal medications

Heartburn medication. A small bottle of Tums. Even if your teen does not have trouble with heartburn now, they may start to have problems when they get to choose all of their own food for the first time. College meal plans are sometimes all you can eat, including many dessert options. If they use up their supply and request more, that would be a good time to discuss better food choices and smaller meal sizes.

Diarrhea/Constipation medicine. Travel size Imodium. If they make poor food choices or get sick from close living quarters they will love you forever for including medication for diarrhea. This would not be the medication they will want to walk to the nearest pharmacy to obtain. For constipation I recommend better food choices and exercise as first line treatment for occasional constipation. Fruits, veggies, All-bran, prunes, prune juice, more water, and nice walk. If that doesn’t work, and it’s a new problem, it’s probably due to lack of fiber in their diet. Most college students to do not eat enough fiber in their diet. It would not hurt to include a fiber supplement in the medication kit. If they take the fiber supplement, make sure they are staying hydrated.

Hydration. Diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration. Including a few packs of Pedialyte or Liquid IV will help if your teen is dehydrated. Staying hydrated can also reduce the risk of constipation. Check out my other post on how to increase your fluid intake.

Cold and flu medications

Nasal Congestion medicine. I recommend including something for allergies and at least one decongestant. Maybe your teen does not suffer from allergies, but could if they move to a new area. I prefer Zyrtec for allergy symptoms, but Claritin and Allegra are also good choices for a non-sedating antihistamine. I would also include a decongestant incase the congestion is from a cold or flu. In this case pseudoephedrine is my first choice. In some states it can only be purchased from a pharmacist. I would also include a bottle of Afrin nasal spray. This can only be used for three days, six doses. It is dosed 1-2 sprays each nostril every 12 hours. It cannot be used for more than 3 days, but it will be three glorious days of breathing through your nose during the worst of any cold or flu.

Cough medicine. For cough in teens and adults it is okay to use Delsym. There are age restrictions on the purchase of Delsym in some states due to abuse potential. This should not be a problem for most college students because the age to purchase is 18. I still think it is the best over the counter option for cough for teens and adults and I am sending a bottle to college with my teen. I would also include cough drops that have menthol as the main ingredient and some that are just soothing throat drops with pectin as the main ingredient. The menthol drops are best for cough suppression. The pectin drops are better for sore or irritated throat, but can also help a bit with cough.

Topical medications

For cuts and scrapes I recommend triple antibiotic ointment and a package of a variety of sizes of Band-Aids.

For itchy rashes a tube of 1% hydrocortisone cream will be a helpful medication to bring to your dorm room.

Canker sores can be brought on by stress, which is why I recommend including Kanka, a topical anesthetic for mouth sores.

Sleep Aids

I prefer non pharmacological treatment as first line for insomnia. I can understand how sleeping in a new place might be a problem due to noise, stress, or just a new environment. Honestly, I used a box fan to block out the noise when I stayed in a dorm. Earplugs are an inexpensive option that might be helpful. A sleep mask might help if your teen is sensitive to light. Good sleep hygiene would be ideal, but if all else fails it wouldn’t hurt to have a small supply of melatonin. I’d recommend 2.5mg or less as a starting dose.

College dorm medication checklist

Disclaimer: Always check with your teen’s doctor or pharmacist if they have any allergies, medical conditions, or are taking any prescribed medications before including these medications in your college dorm medication kit.

  1. Prescribed medications
  2. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  3. Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  4. Cough drops (menthol)
  5. Throat Drops (pectin)
  6. Tums
  7. Imodium (loperamide)
  8. Fiber
  9. Pedialyte packets
  10. Non sedating antihistamine (Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra)
  11. pseudoephedrine
  12. Brand name Afrin nasal spray (oxymetazoline)
  13. Delsym (grape flavor)
  14. Triple antibiotic ointment
  15. 1% hydrocortisone cream
  16. Kanka
  17. Lubricating eye drops (Artificial Tearsnot Visine)
  18. Melatonin 2mg tabs
  19. Multiple vitamin
  20. ChapStick
  21. Sunscreen
  22. Insect repellant

Basic First Aid Supplies for College Dorm Checklist

  1. digital thermometer
  2. Variety of Band-Aids
  3. Ice Pack
  4. Scissors
  5. Tweezers
  6. Cotton balls/swabs
  7. Gauze pads
  8. Medical tape
  9. Ace bandage
  10. Tick Key
  11. Alcohol swabs
  12. Gloves

Other College Dorm Needs

Check out our other post for what you need to make your dorm your home. This post includes many items we forgot to pack. Be prepared!

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