How to Make Your Kids' Lunches Adorable Without Losing Your Mind
It takes literally seconds to add a splash of fun, color and excitement to your kids' lunches. Trust me on this — it doesn't have to be fancy.
Ready to start the school year on an adorable note? As a mom with three elementary-aged kids (and one kindergartener wanna-be), I’ve packed some lunches in my day. And even though it can be a grind, let’s face it: lunchtime is a highlight of the day for most little kids. With a few smart ideas, you can reach maximum impact with a surprisingly small amount of effort. Here are my favorite ideas.
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Go bento. The easiest way to make ANY lunch look better is to fill up a bento-style lunchbox. There’s something about the way everything lines up so easily that just makes lunch more appetizing at first glance. We’re PlanetBox fans for our bigger kids, and EasyLunchboxes are an affordable option I start our preschoolers on.
Color counts. Bright pops of red, green, yellow or blue can transform a ho-hum meal into what looks like a bonefide treat. Sugar snap peas, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips, fresh pineapple, orange wedges and berries are all easy enough to have on-hand in some combination. Even crackers can borrow some rainbow flair when you stack them in a silicone baking cup.
Don't forget accessories. Serving fresh fruit? Cheese balls? Pasta salad? These little picks keep fingers clean and add cuteness at the same time. Ditto for these attachable eyeballs that turn a regular ol’ piece of fruit into a cute little friend in seconds.
Break out your muffin pan. If I plan ahead the night before, it’s actually easier to bake a batch of savory muffins than it is to make make sandwiches. We like these Cornbread with Turkey Sausage & Spinach Muffins a lot. You could transform Mac & Cheese leftovers into Pasta Cups or whip up a batch of Mini Quiche Cups with Cheese & Tomato too.
Put it on a stick. From Club Sandwiches and Turkey-Pickle Roll-Ups to Mozzarella Balls to Meatballs, a skewer wins every time. (Pro tip: Stock up on extra-long toothpicks.)
Add a note, even for kids who can’t read. That’s right. For my littlest students, I’ve been known to tuck in a sticker or a cute picture from a magazine. They’ll laugh and know it’s from me, without reading a word. Bigger kids love a real note and you can even start with a set of motivational cards with sweet designs.
Shape up. Veggie cutters aren’t just for veggies. They work wonders on cheese too! Sandwiches become a work of art in 10 seconds flat when you use one of our favorite cutters. Even hard-boiled eggs get the cute treatment, with molds in the shape of bunnies, bears and more.
Make 2.0 Sandwiches. When the kids (and you) get a little bored with PB&J, there’s an easy way to spice things up: roll it up, sushi-style. Or put fixings like ham and cheese inside a biscuit, bake it off the night before and either serve at room temperature like I do, or pop those pockets under the broiler on LOW for 2 minutes before sending them off to school.
Get artsy (kinda). You won’t believe how cute the average parent can actually make an orange. And don’t even get me started on these amazing Halloween designs. (Spoiler: Wrap a plastic spoon with a white napkin, add two black dots for eyes and wrap a piece of twine around the whole thing. Instant ghost!)
I don’t do all of these every day. Not even close. But it’s fun to have a few things in my back pocket, especially on big days when the kids are wired about tests, pictures or the ongoing saga of navigating the playground (or maybe that’s just mine? Anyway, another post, another time). For now, we have lunch. And boy is it cute.