How a Toothpick Can Save Lunchtime and 7 Other Secrets

By: Foodlets
How a Toothpick Can Save Lunchtime and 7 Other Secrets

When it comes to gimmicks for getting kids interested in their food, I say, "Yes, please." I have no shame when it comes to fun presentation, cute shapes or miniature anything, as long as it's no more difficult than making a plain old version. With four kids at home — the oldest just turned 5 — these are my favorite tricks of the meal-making trade.

1. Sandwich Sushi: We call these "roly-polies" in our house, and the method couldn't be simpler. Take a piece of bread and use a rolling pin to flatten it out (making the surface bigger too), then fill with your usual toppings like PB&J, turkey or whatever your kids like. Roll up and slice into 3 to 4 pieces.

2. Bunny and Bear Hard-Boiled Egg Molds: Our kids love eggs, but they actually cheer when I spend an extra 20 seconds creating bunnies or bears with these easy-to-use egg molds. Just press a peeled egg into the mold, close and wait a few seconds, then pop 'em out.

3. Miniature Juice Glasses: Sure they hold milk, but I also serve the kids all sorts of things in these tiny 4-ounce glasses. Chili becomes a chili and cheddar parfait, yogurt gets layered with honey and berries, and let's not forget smoothies. They're the perfect size for small fries, and anytime the kids can see their food — especially if it's even a little pretty — it's instantly more appealing.

4. Heart and Star Veggie Cutters: They look like small metal cookie cutters, but they're a little sharper and stronger. Here's the important part: I've called my veggie cutters the best $4 I've ever spent. Great for transforming peppers, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and even cheese into sweet shapes our kids love, these little tools are a surprise hit I use all the time.

5. Whole-Wheat Dinner Rolls and Tiny Bagels: I love buying whole-wheat dinner rolls and miniature bagels to use for kids' sandwiches. They're the perfect size for tiny appetites and a welcome break from plain old bread. Some of our favorite flavors beyond turkey and cheese: cream cheese with strawberry fruit spread or egg salad with chopped dill pickles.

6. Skewers and Toothpicks: That's right, anything becomes more festive when you put it on a stick. I thread cucumbers, bocconcini and cherry tomatoes onto toothpicks. Try fruit instead and, even better, put the whole thing in the freezer to serve as "dessert" on a hot day. Or use a wooden skewer to serve a chopped-up sub sandwich: Slide rolled-up turkey, ham, salami, cheese, pickles and big cubes of bread onto skewers instead of using a regular roll.

7. Princess and Frog Prince Sandwich Punches: Make a regular sandwich, then press a fun-shaped sandwich punch over the top — ours are princess and frog prince shapes, but the options are pretty endless — and dazzle the kids with your next ham sandwich. Extra time needed: 5 seconds. Here are more sandwich punch options.

8. Miniature-Muffin Pan: This is the hardest-working tool in my kitchen. From dozens and dozens (and dozens) of mini muffins to very small pot pies, baked pasta cups and even shepherd's pies, I'll throw anything into my two-dozen mini-muffin pan. Making things miniature eases the pressure off kids to eat a lot of any new dish, plus the shape is easy to freeze for later. Rounding out lunchboxes is a breeze when you've got a supply of frozen little muffins on hand.

Charity Curley Mathews is a former executive at HGTV.com and MarthaStewart.com turned family food blogger, an editorial strategy consultant and a mother of four. She’s a contributor to The Huffington Post and the founder of Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe.

Next Up

10 Homemade Ice Pops to Keep You Cool All Summer

Trust us: These are not the store-bought ice pops you grew up with.

Tacos, Nachos and Churros: Go-To Recipes for a Kid-Friendly Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco do Mayo with Food Network's traditional Mexican recipes that the whole family will enjoy, including kid-friendly tacos, nachos and churros.

7 Kid-Friendly Recipes to Serve on Cinco de Mayo

Hear from one mom to find out which Mexican-inspired favorites she prepares for her family to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Fun Thanksgiving Projects for Kids

This Thanksgiving, set the kids up with one of these fun projects. Little kids can roll cheese balls and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and older kids can do more-complicated projects like creating a turkey-shaped veggie platter.

12 Less-Spicy, Still-Tasty Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Kids

One mom shares her picks of kid-approved recipes ideal for a family-friendly Cinco de Mayo party.

One Recipe, Two Meals: Beef Quesadillas for the Kids and Street Tacos for You

Make tacos — well, tacos and ooey-gooey cheesy quesadillas for those little ones biting at your heels.

Kitchen Safety: How to Cook Responsibly With Kids

Get Food Network's top tips for cooking safely with your kids, plus find easy, kid-approved recipes that the whole family will enjoy.

5 Double-Duty Dinners: Turn Leftovers Into School Lunches

Make your dinner do double duty by repurposing the leftovers as fuss-free kids' lunches.

One Recipe, Two Meals: Pizza Rolls for the Kids and a Dressed-Up Pie for You

Pizza rolls for the kiddos! And fancy-pants pizza for you, but you can have the rolls too — if you want, which you probably do.

Ask Your Questions: A Family and Kids Fall-Themed Google+ Hangout

Join Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian, Catherine McCord of Weelicious.com and Dan Pashman of CookingChannelTV.com's Web series, Good to Know, for a Google+ Hangout about all things fall-related on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 1pm EST.

Related Pages