When I was in first grade, I was hospitalized with a bad case of salmonella. They were never quite sure what caused it but suspected I ate some bad food at some point. My Mom was extremely cautious about what I ate after that. In fact, so much that I remember an entire year of the same lunch every day…Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. Because they were the least likely to spoil and make me sick. I still can’t eat peanut butter and jelly to this day.
I think that’s why I’m highly motivated to make creative lunches for my kids each day. It’s my own personal challenge to myself to pack both of my kid’s foods that are both healthy and fun. And variety is key because I think it’s fun when it’s different each day.
So here are a few ideas of things I do to make my children’s lunches healthy and fun:
- Use Cookie Cutters. Like many kids, my boys don’t like to eat the crust on their sandwiches. When my oldest started Kindergarten, I got a variety of cookie cutters at my local Bed, Bath and Beyond. I use a cookie cutter each day to cut out different shaped sandwiches for my kids. They get Bats and Ghosts in October, Dinosaurs and Stars and Hearts. I even have each of their initials and will sometimes spell out their monogram in a sandwich. They love it and are always showing their shaped sandwiches to friends.
- Go with a Roll or Wrap. When I’m not cutting out shapes, I use Potato Rolls or Sandwich rolls for something different. Sometimes I’ll give them a small wrap too; anything to make it different. They love it.
- Leave them a note. Although my second grader makes a big show of not wanting a note, he always reminds me when it’s been awhile since I sent one with his lunch. Kids love getting a little message from Mom or Dad from home in the middle of the day. Send them a note to tell them how proud you are of them or that you love them and it will make their afternoon!
- Visit your local produce market. For a variety of seasonal produce, I visit our local produce market. I try and give my kids a fresh fruit salad most days of the week and they love having seasonal, fresh fruit. For kids who don’t normally eat fruit – how about a treat of chocolate covered strawberries? You only need a tiny dip to make it something exciting for them to have.
Above all, be creative! I find my kids will try most things as long as I package it right. Put the food in shapes, get them a colorful or new lunchbox and make it interactive!