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9 Ways to Make Kids Lunches More Fun

There are 36 weeks in a typical school year and five days in a school week, meaning you’ll pack up to 180 kids’ lunches yearly. Unless you have a fend-for-yourself policy at home, you’ll have to keep it up over the summer. At this point, you might be asking yourself if keeping meals tasty and healthy without draining the fun out of food is possible. Luckily for you, it is. 

1. Have Dinner for Lunch

Most traditional kids’ lunches are some variation of the ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich. An easy way to break the cycle is to switch to meals you’d usually make for dinner. For example, you could dish out smaller portions of barbecue — a pulled-pork slider, fresh roll, potato salad and mac and cheese are tasty breaks from the typical humdrum.

2. Get Your Kids Involved

Letting your children customize their lunches is a great way to get them involved, especially if you have little ones who are particularly picky eaters. Overnight oats to-go is a healthy option since it only consists of whole grains and dairy. Plus, it’s great for busy mornings since it’s a no-cook recipe with a two-ingredient base.

After soaking raw oats in a mason jar of milk overnight, you pack it in your kids’ lunches with a reusable ice pack to keep it cool until it’s time to eat. They can throw in berries, peanut butter, chocolate chips or banana slices. Really, any of their favorite ingredients will do. Here’s a pro tip — it’s best to keep those on the side so they don’t get soggy.

3. Try Something New

If you’re stuck on what to do for your kids’ lunches because you can’t think of anything that sounds good to eat, consider doing something you’ve never tried. Sometimes, branching out is just the thing you need to get your gears turning. A cucumber sub is an excellent example of a nonsensical idea that works — and, more importantly, is healthy. You use cucumber halves instead of bread, filling it with typical ingredients like ham and cheese. 

4. Make Lunch Colorful

A plate full of colorful ingredients looks much more fun to eat than one filled with tans, grays and browns. A rainbow fruit parfait is perfect if you love the idea but your mornings are too busy to spend on prep work. Best of all, it’s nutritious. You simply layer yogurt and fruit in a mason jar. 

You can craft these treats the day before and keep them in the fridge. If you don’t want to cut up fruit, use the frozen variety — it thaws by lunchtime and helps keep the yogurt cool. Add toppings like granola, roasted nuts, peanut butter or quinoa on the side.

5. Feed Them Fun Flavors 

Sometimes, the only thing you need to do to make food fun is to depart from the flavors you typically use. For example, standard pinwheels become much more exciting when you substitute ham for chicken fajitas and lettuce for bell peppers. 

If your children take up all of your free time, consider this easy chicken taco pinwheel recipe — it requires zero cooking time. You’ll need chicken fajitas, olive oil, cream cheese, bell peppers, shredded cheese, taco seasoning and flour tortillas.

6. Make Food Look Fun to Eat

Adding fun toppings and edible decorations to your kids’ lunches makes food look attractive. Even if your children are older, it’s worth it — you might get a good chuckle out of them. One fun idea is to use sliced peppers, chives, refried beans, onions or tomatoes to give a baked potato a face. You can pair it with broccoli cheddar soup to ensure it’s as tasty as it is memorable.

7. Give Them Finger Foods

What kid doesn’t love playing with their food? Give yours some hummus and things to dip to keep them occupied and get them full. While you can create your own by blending chickpeas, oil and salt, store-bought is fine. From there, the only limitation is your imagination — pretzels, celery, apples, radishes and pita bread all pair great with this dish. 

Consider bigger finger foods if you want to give your growing kids something more substantial. For example, a lettuce wrap filled with grilled chicken and rice is a nutritious option that’s easy to dip into hummus. Alternatively, you could feed them bagels, jumbo pretzels or falafels since most bread-based items pair well with chickpeas.

8. Get Artistic With It

Do you have some free time on your hands? Would you like to impress your little ones? If so, give your kids’ lunches an artistic flair. For example, you could put two mini pepperonis and a pretzel stick in a triangle cheese slice to make it look like a mouse’s ears and tail. Stick it on a bed of crackers for a fun, tasty twist on standard cheese and crackers. 

9. Turn Food Into Shapes

Fun shapes can get your children interested in eating. As a bonus, it wins you parenting points. If you want to branch out from cutting fruit into stars and hearts, feel free to get experimental. You could use toothpicks to attach four cucumber slices to a sweet pepper to make it look like a car. Alternatively, you could stick green grapes on a bamboo skewer to make a caterpillar. 

While high-school-aged kids may not be amused, they’ll still appreciate your effort — even if they hide it behind some sass or snark. Whatever you do, you can rest easy knowing they’ll get their daily serving of fruits and vegetables. If you’re worried about them not feeling full, consider adding pretzels, hardboiled eggs or sandwiches to their bags. 

Mix Things up to Keep Your Kids’ Lunches Fun

Trying to come up with something to put together for lunch and coming up blank can be frustrating, especially when you’ve got picky eaters. Fortunately, making kids’ lunches fun again is fairly simple — you just need to figure out how to blend creativity with flavor. 

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