If your child is bored of the same old lunch ideas, here are 8 fun and easy ideas to make lunch the highlight of your kids’ school day. They’ll be surprised with your creativity and you’ll be surprised how the lunch box comes home empty. See all of our Back-to-School Tips and Sanity-Saving Ideas here.
1. Get ‘em to pitch in.
Getting your child involved with the meal preparation is a great way to help ensure that they eat their lunch, not trade it away. Try filling one of each of three plastic baskets with fruits, vegetables and snacks. Then allow your child to pick one item from each basket for their lunch. Add a sandwich and a drink, and you’re done. They might actually eat all of their lunch if they got to choose what’s in it.
2. Theme of the week.
Your child’s classroom usually has a theme of the week so why not a lunch theme? Surprise your kids by incorporating a new lunch theme every few weeks, such as serving all red foods. Pair a strawberry jelly sandwich with cherry tomatoes and low-fat ranch dressing with cherry Jell-O for dessert. Meals could be all round foods (a bagel with cream cheese sandwich, an orange, and carrot rounds) or a backwards lunch (a sandwich with meat and cheese on the outside and a note written in reverse telling your child to eat dessert first). If you can figure out how to tie their lunch to their actual lesson plan that week, even better.
3. Shake it up.
Prepare the same old food in a new way. Instead of a regular peanut butter and jelly on white bread (ho hum), make Pinwheel PB&Js by rolling up the PB&J in a flour tortilla and slicing it into pinwheels (fun!). Try a peanut butter and raisin or banana sandwich for kicks. Try dark chocolate peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter. While some kids freak out when they see a new “food form,” as kids get older they will be willing to try more things, so don’t be afraid to shake it up.
4. Put it on a stick.
Take a plain old boring sandwich, put it on stick and suddenly you have a party. The Super Healthy Kids blog shows how easy it is to make a sandwich on a stick for your kids lunch box. They might even eat the a tomato with this presentation.
5. Order at the lunch counter.
For siblings who like different foods, make a chart of favorite foods with the child’s name at the top and foods they like and will eat for lunch underneath. This will serve as a menu for your kids. Make sure there are vegetable and fruit choices, as well. On Sunday, ask your kids to put in their order for a week’s worth of lunches in advance. They will feel like they are ordering at a restaurant and you have the plan for the week which makes shopping and prepping easier. For inspiration to include more items, check out FamilyFreshCooking.com’s Project Lunchbox. Your child is bound to find something tasty and healthy from her list.
6. A rose by any other name might be worth eating.
To make those healthy greens more interesting for your boys, label your food with a gross name. Cooked spinach could be “Sea Monster Hair”. Snow peas are “Alien Fingers”. Broccoli are “Mini Trees from the Haunted Forest.” They’ll look forward to your creativity. My son used to love this and helped me come up with gross names.
7. Cookies Cutters are your friends.
Cutting up your kids food is a fun and easy way to add a little surprise to your child’s lunch box. I’ve used cookie cutters to cut out sandwich shapes, fruit, brownies, lunch meat, and cheese. You can surprise your kids or I like to use the cookie cutters with my daughter. I love to see her creativity, and if she helps create the food, she’s more likely to eat it. These two-toned sandwiches from Spoonful.com reminds us of the Kissing Hand, a great book for kids going into kindergarten.
8. Lunch box notes.
Don’t limit your lunch box creativity to just the food. Slip a little note into your child’s lunch box to let them know that you are thinking of them. You can simply say you love them, encourage them on an upcoming test, or tell them a joke. Here’s an article with a ton of ideas for lunch box love notes.
Yes, some of these ideas take a little time and preparation. But remember; planning it on Sunday night for the weekdays will save you precious time on weeknights from trying to think of new lunch ideas. Or, just throw in the fun randomly when you have time. Your kids will never know what they’ll find that way.
What do you do to get your kids to eat their lunch at school?
Check out my Back-to-School Pinterest Board for Back-to-School tips and some additional school lunch ideas.