Lunchbox Notes and Food Ideas Your Kids Will Love
Lunchtime can be one of the best times of your child’s day. Not only do they get to open up a bag or box filled with food, but they also get a little piece of home.
You’re likely tired of sending the same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich with packaged snacks. It’s equally likely that your kids are tired of eating them. Make lunchtime extra special with some of the fun notes and food ideas below.
Write an Ongoing Story
Lunchtime is a special time to connect with your child even when you aren’t physically with them. Instead of the usual sticky note with a smiley face you might normally put into your kid's lunchbox, try to come up with an ongoing story.
You can start the story on the first note and add a few more lines each day. Your little one will be so excited each day to see what comes next in the story. You can stretch the narrative out for a few weeks or the whole school year.
Holiday Themed Food
The holidays are a great time to add a little sparkle to your child’s lunch. You can make sandwiches in the shape of snowmen over winter or heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day. You can make mummy-wrapped hot dogs for Halloween dye their milk green for St. Patrick’s Day.
For any holiday, you can include festive cookies, candy or a tradition that is special to your family. During the 12 days leading up to winter break, for example, you can put a special treat in their lunchbox each day.
Give lunch a little twist with pizza roll-ups. This is a fun take on pizza that offers a little something different than cold leftovers. To make pizza roll-ups, you can also use a variety of toppings and ingredients. You can even sneak in a vegetable.
Start with a tortilla shell. Next, use a red or white pizza sauce. Add cheese and any meat or vegetables your little one prefers. Melt these together quickly and roll them up. You can serve them as one roll or cut them up as mini rolls.
Personal notes are a fun way to share a special moment with your child while you are apart. These notes are something your child will look forward to and remember forever. While you don’t need to spend hours crafting them, just a few minutes on a piece of paper will go a long way.
If you’re looking for inspiration, go with something personal between you and your child. Alternatively, refer to something going on in their life. If they have a big test coming up, wish them well or good luck on their test.
Breakfast for Lunch
Who doesn’t love breakfast at unexpected times? Kids, in general, seem to always finish their breakfast foods yet can never manage to eat all of their carrots. If you have a picky eater who thrives at breakfast, this approach can be a great way to get them to eat more as well.
For a breakfast lunchbox, you can do anything from mini pancakes, waffles, cereal with milk or even pigs in a blanket. In different containers, give them syrup, pancakes, fruit and even some chocolate chips for fun. Eggs, bagels, yogurt and muffins are also easy add-ins.
Tell a Joke
Kids love to laugh, whether it’s at TV shows, silly faces or just plain goofiness. Give your kid some extra smiles at lunchtime with a little joke inside their lunchbox. A quick search online can yield a month’s worth of jokes.
To add a joke to your child’s lunchbox, use a sticky note or even a washable marker on something plastic within their lunch. If you don’t have time to add a daily joke, make it a Friday treat or something you do on special occasions.
PB&J Banana Dog
For a fun take on a hot dog, try a peanut butter and jelly banana dog. This whimsical childhood favorite takes the classic peanut butter and jelly and combines it with a favorite kid’s dinner food. If your little one loves bananas, peanut butter and jelly, this is sure to be a fan favorite.
To make the peanut butter and banana dog, take a hot dog bun and place a banana in it like you would a hot dog. Add peanut butter and jelly to the top like condiments. You can also use whole grain bread.
Bento boxes make even an average lunch feel a little elevated. A bento box has different compartments of varying sizes to keep all of your child’s lunch items separate. If you have a kid that would rather snack than eat a meal, a this Japanese-inspired approach might just do the trick.
There are a few items that make stocking a bento box the night before really easy. For some go-to lunch items, choose berries, melon, cheese cubes, crackers, shredded chicken or pulled pork, slices of turkey, carrots, pita bread, string cheese, grapes or cucumbers.
Stickers can make any lunch feel special. Your kid won’t expect a fun roll of stickers in their lunch bag with their sandwich, and they can use them right there at lunch or save them for later in the day.
You can choose stickers that match the time of year. For instance, near Halloween, put a roll of pumpkin or ghost stickers in their lunchbox. You can do the same for their birthday, Valentine’s Day or the Friday before vacation.
Add Some Color
If you really want to surprise your little one, give them something fun and colorful to do at lunch. A rolled-up from a coloring book or mini coloring pad with smaller pages and some crayons are all you need.
This fun surprise makes a quick and relaxing activity during lunch and guarantees your kid will have a good time even if their best friends are absent that day. It’s also good encouragement for those young Picassos out there.
Ants on a Log
You probably remember ants on a log from when you were a kid. This classic kid snack is an oldie but a goodie. To make this treat, you cut a piece of celery sideways like a log. Scoop some peanut butter into the inside and line up a few raisins like they’re ants.
Ants on a log are not only adorable but also good for you. The raisins have fiber and vitamins, while the peanut butter is filling and a good source of protein. It’s certainly better than an actual log and ants!
Many kids love milk in all its forms. Classic white milk is not only delicious, but also a great source of vitamin D and minerals. Even if your child can’t have dairy, there are plenty of non-dairy milk to choose from such as oat milk, soy milk or almond milk that can work for this treat.
Take the milk of your choice and choose a fun flavoring your kids will enjoy. For chocolate lovers, the classic chocolate milk is always a best. You can also try strawberry milk for something a little different.
Make Your Own Parfait
Meals that encourage kids to make something for themselves are always fun. Your little one will enjoy being their own chef. A parfait is an easy meal to make using a couple of containers and a cooler for the fruit and yogurt.
Start with a container of yogurt and add your child’s favorite toppings. Toppings may include granola, berries or honey. You can use strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or bananas as additional fruit options. Cereal or granola add a nice extra crunch.
If your kid loves pizza but you want them to eat something healthy, make a fruit pizza for lunch. Fruit pizza can be cut into triangles like a pizza and served with a variety of different fruits on top. Add an ice pack to their lunch bag to keep the pizza cool and you’re all set.
To make your fruit pizza, use a puff pastry as the bottom of the pizza crust. Add cream cheese to the crust and then your child’s favorite fruit to the top. Strawberries, bananas, blueberries and kiwi are all tasty options.
Make a Drawing
If you want to do something besides a note, consider giving your kid a fun drawing instead. A drawing is a cute way of conveying a little message to your kid while you are apart, and it makes for a sweet connection between the two of you. Unlike notes, a drawing also works for children who haven’t started reading yet.
For some design inspiration, remember that your child won’t care if you aren’t the best artist. Just do the best you can and doodle something meaningful to both of you. You can draw their favorite character or family pet.
If you have an older child or a kid who enjoys puzzles and riddles, step up your note game with something to put together or solve. A riddle is a fun way to give your puzzle lover a little mid-day surprise.
You can make a maze, puzzle, word game, riddle or even a crossword puzzle on a brown paper bag, a piece of paper or a notepad. If this is something you and your child decide to do daily, consider a small dry erase board for reusability.
Write a Poem
If you like to play with words or are just good at searching online, you can add some sweet poetry to your child’s lunchbox. A poem can be as simple as two lines that rhyme or something longer.
If you aren’t savvy as a writer, don’t worry. You can google some small poems or words that rhyme and just copy them down to a note card, a small piece of paper or a sticky note. You can use a chalk marker to write a poem as well.
Pizza is always a crowd-pleaser. Kids love pizza and it is an easy way to give kids the delicious dinner they love during a stressful school day. You can make mini pizzas using small pizza crusts, bagels or English muffins. Add some vegetables to the top for a healthy (or healthier) bonus.
Take the crust of your choice, add sauce, cheese and toppings and bake your mini pizzas as required by the crust. Cut your mini pizzas to fit into small containers or go with mini bagels or small English muffins for portability.
Food on a Stick
There is something about a stick that makes food taste better. If you have an older child who won’t harm themselves with a stick, this is a fun way to serve even regular lunch items. You can use a stick to serve their main course, a snack or even a dessert.
Some great foods to serve on a stick are cheese, grapes, melons, chicken, cucumbers, olives or pickles. You can also take a banana covered in peanut butter and yogurt and freeze it on a stick. Pancakes or waffles work well, too.
Cookie Cutter Sandwiches
To add some whimsy to your sandwiches, use a cookie cutter with different shapes. Your kid probably doesn’t like the crust anyway, so make it easier on yourself and add in a nice little surprise. The nice thing is you can do this with almost any type of sandwich.
Around the holidays you can make peanut butter and jelly into a Christmas tree. You can also make your kid’s sandwich into a pumpkin for Halloween or a heart for Valentine’s Day. Your kid will get their crustless sandwich, and you’ll get them to finish it.
Energy bites make for a great kid’s lunch. These protein-packed little gems are full of healthy foods that not only taste great but are also secretly nutritious. One of the best things about making energy bites is that you can throw them in lunches as well.
Energy bites are essentially oatmeal oats mixed with peanut butter, honey and chocolate chips. Once all of these ingredients are mixed together, you can roll them into balls and put them in the freezer. Take them out in the morning for a delicious treat.
Add a Dip
Kids usually like to dip their food. Even as adults, adding a dip to a meal can make it taste that much better. If you want to spice up your child’s lunch, consider adding a dipping sauce to their favorite meal.
If you’re packing your child’s lunch with fruit, for example, add a fruit dip containing yogurt and a little vanilla pudding. For vegetables, send ranch dressing or hummus. You can also add condiments or sauces such as salsa, yogurt, ketchup, barbecue or mustard to serve with almost anything.
Quesadillas are a great lunchbox surprise. For something zesty and savory, add cheese to your favorite tortilla and serve it with a side of salsa in your child’s lunchbox. Add some tomatoes, avocado, black beans, chips, rice or corn.
If your child likes eggs, you can also make breakfast quesadillas using eggs, breakfast meat and cheese. Breakfast quesadillas are also delicious served with salsa or ketchup. Quesadillas are easy to prepare the night before and then heat up the next morning and wrap them in tin foil.
Use a Thermos
A thermos is one of those nostalgic lunchbox items that not everyone uses today. If you want to surprise your kid, get a thermos featuring a character they love. These thermoses are great for keeping cold and hot food at exactly the right temperature.
For some fun thermos ideas, think about drinks, soup, oatmeal or even yogurt. These items will also be kept colder or warmer than if you just put them in a plastic container. Your child will have fun using a cup with their favorite characters on it.
Undercover Healthy Muffins
Muffins are a quick snack to throw into your child’s lunchbox. Muffins can almost look like cupcakes but undercover muffins will always contain a fruit or vegetable of your choice for some secret nutrition. The best part about making muffins is that you’ll have anywhere from 12 to 36 bakes at once.
Some undercover muffin ideas and add-ins include carrots, blueberries, raisins, bananas, applesauce, strawberries or lemon. Make muffins as you normally would and slip in something healthy like a little sweet potato. They won’t even notice their blueberry muffin is a little healthier.
A smoothie is a great way to pack a little nutrition into your child’s lunch. Your kids will enjoy a cold, sweet treat, and you’ll be happy knowing you snuck in some vegetables, too. You can keep a smoothie cold using an insulated metal cup, thermos or an ice pack.
For some delicious and healthy smoothie mix-ins, start using any cow’s milk or non-dairy milk such as oat or coconut milk of your choice. Add bananas, fresh or frozen fruit, spinach and kale. You can also add avocado, honey or peanut butter.
Think of a McDonald's happy meal when you brainstorm ideas for this tip. A surprise toy is like a homemade happy meal that your little one can look forward to at lunchtime. A small toy is a fun way to make your child smile.
They don’t have to be expensive, either. A trip to the dollar store will do. Small surprise toy ideas include a bouncy ball, stickers, bracelet, stamp, eraser, or new pencil. Pens or school supplies are a practical surprise, too.
Meat and Cheese Platter
Kids love little snacks. If you’re having a hard time getting your child to eat full meals, try to make food look a little more like a snack at lunchtime. A meat and cheese array with fruit and some veggies is like a lunch disguised as an appetizer.
Your kid will enjoy stacking crackers, meats and cheese together like little sandwiches. Meat and cheese ideas include turkey, turkey pepperoni, cheese cubes or slices, grapes, pretzels and crackers. Berries, carrots, cucumbers and little pita bread triangles go nicely here as well.
Mini Chicken and Waffles
Making anything miniature instantly makes a lunch cuter. You can quickly make mini waffles using pre-made batter if you have the right size waffle maker. You can also buy mini waffles frozen from the store for an easier way to prepare this meal.
Pack a small plastic container of syrup with another one or two filled with some strawberries and blueberries. Next, cook a couple of frozen or fresh chicken tenders or even pulled rotisserie chicken. You can also add a dollop of yogurt, whipped cream, ketchup or hot sauce in their lunch.
Taco Tuesday is a fun theme that your child will look forward to each and every week. Every Tuesday, pack some variation of a taco in their lunchbox. You can serve everything separately and have them assemble their meal at school or pre-make it and wrap the taco(s) in tin foil to keep them warm.
Taco Tuesday ideas include a flour or corn tortilla, your child’s protein or vegetable of choice and small containers of of salsa, cheese, black beans, corn, lettuce, sour cream or avocado.