*I wrote this article originally for Vega in September 2016. Some additions have been made.
Lunches that look like they’ve come straight from Pinterest look beautiful, but sometimes we don’t have six hours to painstakingly create a masterpiece inside of a lunch box. Fortunately, there are still ways to make quick school lunches that are fun and won’t make you miss out on sleep.
Make it Fun (without the #PinterestPressure)
Pass notes: Use chalkboard paint to paint the inside lid of your child’s lunch box. When packing their lunch, write a quick note or draw a picture with the chalk. If you add a small box of chalk into their lunch box, they can write back! Don’t feel like painting? You can add a small whiteboard into the lunch box for easy note-passing.
Tell jokes: Upgrade your standard note by adding fun facts, riddles, or jokes. This will add some entertainment to lunchtime. You can save the punch lines or answers for when your little guys get home.
Wrap it up: On extra special occasions like birthdays, wrap each item in the lunch with wrapping paper. Make sure to pack all their favorite lunch bits and pieces, too!
Make faces: Stock up on face stickers at the craft store and make funny faces on lunch items. Who doesn’t like funny faces on their food? I sure do and it has been a long time since anyone packed me a lunch.
Mix Things Up
Make juice box slushies: In the hotter months, throw juice boxes into the freezer and add to the lunch box in the morning with a spoon. By recess the box will have partly melted making an almost perfect slushy treat. Your child just needs to cut the top lip of the juice box off, mix with their spoon, and enjoy their refreshing treat.
Serve lunch on a stick: Skewer normal lunch snacks like veggies and fruit, build a sandwich kebab, or pack leftover barbecued kebabs.
Freeze extra smoothies: Make extra of your kiddies’ favorite smoothie and freeze it. Add it to the lunch box in the morning and by lunch it will still be cold but melted enough to drink, plus it works as a great ice pack.
Switch up your sandwich: Change up a regular sandwich by putting the same ingredients into a wrap, pita, or bun.
Have dinner again: Send leftover dinner for a truly quick and simple lunch. Just make sure that it is just as tasty cold as it is hot.
Make bowls: Use a salad container to make grain bowls – combine grains, veggies, protein, sauce and some crunchy or pickled topping.
Pack Your Own
Get your kiddos packing their own lunches. This will get them excited when lunchtime comes. Make packing lunches a part of the bedtime routine in your house and use this guide to pack the perfect mix and match lunch.
Fruit + Veggies + Protein + Snacks + Water + Bonus
Pick out your kiddos favorite item from each category, adding more veggies and fruit if desired.
*If purchasing look for no refined sugar added
Sautéed veggies (dinner leftovers are great for this)
Sandwiches or Wraps
Seed Mixes (or nuts if allowed at school)
Homemade Nut-Free Granola Bars
Homemade Baked Goods
Reusable Water bottle
Homemade flavored water (add lemon or strawberry slices, etc.)
Something special your kiddo loves! This could be a small serving of candies or other sweet treat, a note, a small toy. Just something to put a smile on your kiddos face.