5 Lunches Kids Love

Fun school lunchbox ideas that prove delicious and nutritious are not mutually exclusive

It’s September, which means your morning routine once again involves the making of school lunches. Don’t get stuck in your old rut of brown-bagging the same dull sandwich and sides your kids inevitably trade for something with a little more pizzazz (read: sugar). Never fear: “Healthy” doesn’t have to mean “boring.” Instead, deliver fun, yummy yet good-for-them lunches they’ll actually enjoy unwrapping. (Parents of kids who prefer buying from the cafeteria shoud brush up on how to promote healthy school lunches here.)

5 More Lovable Lunchbox Ideas

1. Birthday or holiday coming up? Individually wrap lunchbox contents in festive paper and stash a small gift alongside the sandwich.

2. Not enough room for an ice pack? Freeze an individual smoothie, juice box or water bottle, and it’ll defrost by lunchtime. Dual-purpose at its finest. (Though your best bet is to buy an insulated lunchbox that will keep food and beverages cold at a safe, consistent temp.)

3. Regular bread too boring? Try pita pockets, tortillas or English muffins (they come in a variety of flavors and make a great base for DIY pizzas and melts).

4. Rainbow connections. Experimenting with color-themed lunches is easier than you think. Go red, for example, with a Tupperware full of tomato soup, strawberries and an individually packaged cherry Jell-O.

5. Leftovers over easy. Don’t throw last night’s dinner in the fridge and forget about it. Sandwich up whatever’s left of the main course, toss excess rice or pasta with diced veggies into a Tupperware or load an errant baked potato with healthy toppings and send it all in to school.

1. Use cookie cutters to turn an ordinary sandwich, veggies and pretzels into fun scenes in their lunchboxes. Think themes — sports, animals, holidays (like this scrumptiously spooky Halloween tableau, which also features the creative use of marshmallows, from Cookiecutterlunch.blogspot.ca).

2. The sandwich isn’t the only packable finger-food format. Chunk up toasted whole-wheat bread, lettuce, turkey or lean roast beef, melon and cheese, then skewer the pieces on short kebab sticks, like this example from Momentsofharmony.com.

3. Make a “sushi” bento box, like this one from Alililyblog.com. Roll strips of carrots and cukes with spreadable cheese and meat in wheat wraps to create a spiral. Slice into 1-inch-wide pieces and pin with a toothpick. For a gluten-free take, sub lettuce for the wraps.

4. Try a stir-fry. The night before, pan-fry broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, baby corn and chicken, add soy sauce or other Asian food flavoring and voilà. Looking for extra credit? Pack it in a cute, reusable Chinese takeout container. (Find this one at Perpetualkid.com.)

5. Take a tip from Greciandelight.com and layer granola, Greek yogurt and berries in a Tupperware parfait-style. It’s tasty, filling and eye-catching.

Finally, if you’re feeding notoriously finicky eaters, empower them to help set a menu that appeals to them: List lunch-appropriate food items in three columns (protein/fruits & veggies/snack). Then let the kids draw lines connecting the items, creating their own meals.

Marcy Katz, who handles marketing and distribution for MetroKids, is the aesthetic brain behind Pinterest.com/metrokidsmag.

Categories: Food & Nutrition, Health & Nutrition, Healthy Living, Solutions