When was the last time your child was truly excited about school lunch? If your answer, like mine was three years ago, is “never,” then it’s time to rethink the lunchbox. Read on for three simple and fun lunch ideas for kids.
I started on this Bento Lunch Adventure to inspire my daughter to learn and try new things. As is often the case, my daughter’s school was not able to provide allergy-friendly options, so I began packing her lunches for her every day. I found that coming up with lunch ideas for kids that are healthy and fun is easier than you think!
When I began sharing my daughter’s lunches on Instagram, I wanted to inspire other parents to take charge of their kids’ lunches. Each day, I’ve been challenged to create healthy lunches that minimize excess waste, are allergy-friendly and fun to make. Some of the other benefits that I’ve found include:
Encouraging kids to try new foods. For my daughter, I slowly integrated new foods into her lunchbox and made them more fun by cutting out shapes or using colorful accessories. This takes the “scariness” out of trying new foods and makes them fun and exciting! To make lunch even more special, you can even include lunchbox notes, like Yowie’s lunchbox trivia.
Healthier options. Schools try to provide children with balanced meals, but we know that it isn’t always economical for their ingredients to be fresh or preservative-free. When you pack a lunch, you know exactly what your kids are eating and what goes into making those meals.
Lower Cost. I was able to cut lunch costs from $5-$6 a day in school to $2.50 or less by packing from home. Because you can buy the ingredients to make several lunches at once, this offsets the cost of buying a hot lunch in the school cafeteria every day. You can even use leftovers from dinner the night before to save more.
Bonding. Being in the kitchen together is a great way to connect with your kids while teaching them life skills that they will always be able to use. Not to mention, it’s fun to come up with brand new lunch ideas for kids together.
Making these homemade lunches is also a great way to destress after a long day at work. Even though I’m making them for my daughter, these meals give me a chance to be creative and think outside the (lunch) box. I really enjoy planning out the week and deciding how I’m going to use the ingredients I have on hand to come up with something she’ll love. My daughter gets excited about lunch now, too. Her friends are always curious to see what lunch ideas we’ve created and it helps me feel more connected to her as she gets older. It’s a wonderful feeling!
Yowie Chocolates and Gummies fit perfectly into our lunchbox philosophy. They’re easy and convenient, and I can feel good about giving them to my kid. Yowie isn’t just a treat, it’s a fun and educational experience. Parents love Yowie for the all-natural, non-GMO, gluten-free chocolate. Kids love it for the exceptional taste and the surprise inside each package! Yowie Gummies with pet collectibles are our favorite, but we also enjoy collecting the Wild Water series and learning all about endangered and critically endangered species, like the Big City Salamander.
THREE FUN AND HEALTHY LUNCH IDEAS FOR KIDS
I’m excited to share three fun and healthy lunch ideas for kids that you can make at home. You can see that each lunch box has a main dish, at least one serving of fruits and vegetables, plus a special treat. I like to plan out a full week’s menu on Sundays and figure out how to execute the lunchboxes ahead of time so that I don’t have to spend too much time putting them together the night before.
Wild Water Sushi Lunch
This water-themed lunch idea for kids features homemade seafood sushi, tomato and bell pepper “coral” with cucumber starfish, and a Yowie Wild Water Surprise Inside chocolate for a special treat. Prep for this wild water sushi lunch takes about ten minutes and doesn’t require any cooking. The sriracha mayo and ginger give the sushi a “kick,” so if your child doesn’t like spicy foods, feel free to leave them out of the box.
What’s in the box:
- “Spicy” Shrimp Sushi with sriracha mayo and ginger
- Tomato & bell pepper slices with cucumber stars
- Raspberries & Blackberries
- Yowie “Ditty” for a Treat
Shrimp Sushi Roll
Making sushi rolls is pretty easy! Make sure you have all of your prep done before-hand so all you have to do is layer on the ingredients, roll and slice. Here’s my go-to recipe for simple homemade shrimp sushi.
- White rice
- Frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and chopped
- Imitation crab sticks, chopped
- Avocado, chopped
Step One: On a bamboo sushi mat (or layer of parchment paper) spread out the white rice.
Step Two: Add a layer of nori, and then add the shrimp, crab and avocado. Be sure not to add too much or you won’t be able to get a tight roll.
Step Three: Holding the edge of the mat closest to you, tightly roll the sushi into a log. Cut bite-sized slices and add to the lunch box.
Step Four: Add sriracha mayo (see recipe below) to the top of the sushi to add a little kick. Serve with sliced ginger.
This spicy sauce carries a little bit of heat, so taste and adjust to your (and your child’s) liking.
- ⅔ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tsp sriracha
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- Pinch of salt
Combine ingredients and mix well. Serve over Shrimp Sushi Roll.
Flatbread Pizza Bites Lunch
What kid doesn’t love pizza? You can make these quick and easy pizza bites in just a few short minutes. Throw in a few other bite-sized snacks to balance it out, making it a delicious lunch that your kid will definitely want to bring to school again and again. For this one, I added sliced apples, red grapes and veggie straws. Don’t forget the Yowie Bites for a special chocolatey end to a great lunch.
What’s in the Box:
- Flatbread pepperoni pizza bites
- Apple slices
- Veggie Straws
- Yowie Bites For a Treat
Flatbread Pepperoni Pizza Bites
Buying premade flatbread makes this recipe super quick and easy, and the options are endless. These pizza bites can be made with traditional pizza crust, flatbread, tortillas or even English muffins! Feel free to add other toppings to really make this pizza a special lunch.
- Store-bought flatbread
- Pizza sauce
- Mozzarella cheese
Step One: Using a round cookie cutter, cut circles out of your flatbread
Step Two: Layer on pizza sauce, followed by shredded mozzarella and pepperoni.
Step Three: Bake in a 350° oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
These are scrumptious cold, but if your child’s school has a microwave in the cafeteria, or if you’re making these to eat at home later, feel free to microwave them for about 15 seconds for a nice warm lunch.
Puppy Snack Salami Sandwiches
Even something as simple as a sandwich lunch can be made special by adding color and fun shapes. For these “puppy snacks,” I layered salami and mozzarella on whole-wheat bread and then cut out the bone and paw shapes. To keep with the finger-food theme, I also added in green grapes, green pea crisps, red plum slices, and some fun olive, cucumber and cheese kabobs. No lunch is complete without a special treat, so I also added some Yowie Gummies.
What’s in the box:
- “Puppy Snacks” sandwiches
- Olive, cucumber and mozzarella kabobs
- Harvest Snaps green pea crisps
- Red plum slices
- Yowie Gummies for a Treat
Puppy Snack Sandwiches
These are yummy as is, but you can also toast them, grilled cheese-style, for a little extra flavor and texture. If you don’t have cookie cutters and worry about cutting out the shapes evenly, you can draw the shapes on parchment paper and cut them out beforehand to act as a template.
- 4 salami slices
- Shredded mozzarella
- 4 slices whole-wheat bread
Step One: Spread mayonnaise onto two slices of bread.
Step Two: Layer on salami and mozzarella. Top with another slice of bread.
Step three: Using a bone- and paw-shaped cookie cutter (or a knife), cut out the shapes and add them into the lunchbox.
Tips for Making Creative and Easy Lunches for Kids
Have the right tools: Some of my favorite must-have tools for coming up with fun lunches are a good leak-proof lunch box, cookie cutters or a sharp paring knife to cut out shapes, silicone baking cups for holding fruits and veggies, and reusable toothpicks.
Go for convenience: Use store-bought pizza crusts, pre-sliced meats, and other ingredients to make your life easier. If you have the time to spend making homemade bread, then that’s awesome, but for the rest of us – easy and fast is the way to go.
Always be prepared: Sometimes a meal won’t turn out the way you want it to or the cat will knock a perfectly packed bento box onto the floor (true story). Make sure you have a “freezer stash” of grab-and-go items that can be packed in a hurry. This can be as simple as frozen chicken strips that just need to be reheated or even a surplus of pancakes that you froze after breakfast. Simple and easy.
My now 7th grader has a whole new appreciation for lunch. Maybe it’s all the fun shapes, or new snacks to try, or maybe it’s because of Yowie! Making lunch doesn’t have to be a chore, and the possibilities are endless. Share the creative ways you make lunch exciting with us on social media using #YowieWorld.
About the author:
Kay Kruppenbacher from Central Florida was inspired by her 12-year-old daughter, Adriana, to create amazing bento lunches that she highlights on Instagram. She is a full time working mom that loves spending time with her family, reading and packing healthy and fun lunches that her daughter will love.
Follow Kay on Instagram at @mommaspackinlunches