9 ideas to pack fun school lunches

9 Fun School Lunch Ideas

Want to pack healthy lunches that don’t come home half-eaten? It’s easy with these clever tips.
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“We all need inspiration,” says Meredith Steele, who writes the popular family food blog In Sock Monkey Slippers. “A PB&J sandwich gets pretty old fast, so creativity is key.”

1. stack a sandwich

Beth Aldrich, the woman behind the book “Real Moms Love to Eat”, supplies her son with slices of turkey, cheese, green pepper, and bread or crackers in Ziploc® brand Snack Bags with mayo on the side—so he can self-stack his own sandwich. “Just making it is fun,” said Aldrich, who slices the ingredients into circles, squares, and triangles.

2. play with shapes

“I use cookie cutters a lot,” says Steele, who cuts cucumber slices, bread, and cheese (she uses the remnants to make salad). To get the look in the photo above, use two types of bread (white and wheat, for example), cut your shapes, and fit one shape into the other. Now you’ve got a fun sandwich—with great taste and zero waste.

3. put a new spin on old faves

As Steele said, PB&J can get old fast. But if that combination is a favorite for your kids, keep it fresh by making it in a tortilla, spreading it in pita bread—or even baking PB&J muffins a sweet and hearty treat for breakfast, lunch or anytime.

4. divide and devour

Kids enjoy a well-presented meal just like adults, so consider packing a lunch using a divided lunch container or bento box. They help keep contents cute and fresh throughout the day, not to mention that they’re functional, economical and eco-friendly. Our favorites are the rectangular Ziploc® brand Divided Containers.

Greek yogurt, carrots, chicken fajitas

Apricot coconut balls, raw almonds, super hero sandwich

Sweet and salty chickpea snack mix, apple, chunky chicken peanut wraps.

5. captivate with color

Steele says to use color to make meals visually appealing: “Kids love color,” she says. “It makes kids more interested in trying things out.” Cindy Richards of TravelingMom.com sometimes makes meals all in one color to get her kids to try new foods. Want them to try butternut squash? Make an orange lunch with the squash, plus carrots, oranges and cheese.

6. take a dip

Kids love to dip. Make lunch deliciously dippable by packing veggies with ranch dressing, chips with salsa, sliced apples with yogurt, or pita bread with hummus.

7. sip a smoothie

Steele makes smoothies using Greek yogurt and honey, adding frozen fruit so there’s no need for ice when blending. Then she freezes the mixture and packs it in the morning so it defrosts on its own by lunchtime. Try this triple berry smoothie, which calls for frozen blueberries and takes only three minutes to make. Make ahead and freeze in a Ziploc® brand Twist ’n Loc® Containers.

8. tell a story

Aldrich sometimes adds a drop of blue food coloring to vanilla yogurt and inserts a toothpick with a triangular piece of paper (for a sail), and serves it with fish-shaped crackers. She achieves the same sea-faring theme with hollowed green or red peppers filled with egg or tuna salad, using a straw to hold the sail. “It’s a great visual,” she says.

9. make it notable

When the mood strikes, toss in a little note, joke, question, or game of hangman to play throughout the week. Your kids will love the surprise!

Packing a fun and healthy lunch is one way to show your kids you care, says Steele. After all, “lunch is a little bit of home that they take with them.”

For more fun lunch ideas and inspiration, check out healthy snacks on the go, kid-tested and delicious recipes, lunch-box specials, and 8 Ways To Get Kids To Eat Fruits & Veggies.

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5/2/2013 , 
Sue  W.
Write with permnent marker on the outside of sandwich bag jokes like knock, knock or Roses are red, or brain teasers, even fortune cookie papers. My daughter's friends could not wait for her to open her lunch to see what I would write that day. Also use a cookie cuter to stamp shapes into bread that the sandwich was made with. They didn't care what was inside it was cute on the outside.
8/16/2012 , 
SilyLily  O.
Great ideas if you have children. I like these and will be doing them for my hubby's lunches. This will certainly brighten his day and tell him how much I love him, and care that he eats right too.
8/6/2012 , 
Lynn  B.
Great ideas! I find my children like it when I use different breads - tortillas, mini bagels, mini croissants, mini baguettes. Also they like to participate and make their choices (I provide healthy options). Presentation is everything so I always make it look good. Lunches are a great way to use leftovers. Leftover breakfast bacon is used on sandwiches. I have even sent lamb chops, leftover from dinner, which kids can eat with their fingers! And, the lunch notes provide a big thrill.
8/6/2012 , 
Lynn  P.
I used to put notes in my daughters lunchs years ago. I have noticed that she now puts notes in her childrens lunches. I think that was a memorable thing to her.:)
8/1/2012 , 
Cathy  H.
These fun and creative ideas will be used by this fun but not-so-creative mom! Thank you!
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