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10 Creative Ways to Dress Up Your Kids’ Lunch (Tested and Approved!)

Thanks to Stonyfield YoKids Yogurt Pouches for sponsoring this post. Click here to see more of the discussion.

Let’s be honest, packing school lunches can be kind of a drag. No matter how creative you are with the food, the bottom line is your kids will often only eat certain things, which can make lunch kind of boring over time. And, let’s face it, making the same lunches over and over again can get boring for Mom and Dad, too!

But there are some fun and creative things you can do to add a little pizzazz to your kids’ lunch. The best part is that pizzazz only takes a few minutes! I sat down with my own kids and asked them what kinds of things would make them more excited about eating their lunches, especially the healthy foods. We came up with a really fun list of quick tricks to increase the lunchbox fun level. Here are our 10 creative lunch ideas that will get your kids excited about opening their lunchbox each day, too!

  • 1. Write a note! 1 of 10
    lunchbox note

    This might be the simplest, most classic addition to the lunchbox, but it works every time to cheer a child's mood! I asked Cate how it makes her feel when I do write her a note and she said, "It makes me feel special." {Heart melting.} I like to write my notes on a napkin so the napkin serves double duty delivering a message to my cuties and also helping them with clean up! Bonus to using the napkin: it ends up in the trash so you don't accumulate tons of notes (although my sweet Cate still saves a lot of the notes, even when they're napkins!).

  • 2. Yogurt Flowers 2 of 10
    frozen yogurt squeezer flower web

    Turn a frozen yogurt squeezer into a flower! Simply cut a large flower out of construction paper with two parallel slits near the middle, then slide the frozen yogurt squeezer through the hole. It takes about 2 minutes and is super cute! Cate told me that the yogurt flowers are fun and exciting and Anna's eyes lit up when she first saw one!

  • 3. Pipe cleaners 3 of 10
    pipe cleaners for a fun lunch

    Pipe cleaners are a great way to spruce up a healthy snack! It's easy to make shapes out of the pipe cleaner and the little wire end sticks securely into pretty much any food you want. The first time I did this the kids were super excited. Cate declared that it's very fun and when I asked Anna why she liked it she said, "I just like it!". (Apparently she is not a woman of many words.) 

  • 4. Kiwi Shapes 4 of 10
    kiwi lunchbox fun

    Kiwi is super healthy and also super tasty. And, bonus for parents, when it's cut into thick slices, it's easy to cut it into cute shapes with a small, sharp knife or even a cookie cutter! Whether it's the letters of your child's name (pictured: Cate) or basic shapes (hearts, stars, and more), your kids are going to love their cute little kiwi shapes. (Be sure to eat the scraps while you cut or throw the scraps into your kids' breakfast bowl while you make lunch!) When Cate discovered I had made her name out of kiwi she was seriously giddy. This little trick is definitely a winner!

  • 5. Sandwiches Cut Into Shapes 5 of 10
    shaped sandwiches for a fun lunchbox

    Cutting your kids sandwiches into fun shapes is another classic move that is always sure to please! I have a few different "cookie" cutters that are the perfect size for a sandwich. For whatever reason if my kids have heart, penguin or puzzle piece-shaped sandwich, they are always more excited to eat up, no matter how healthy the bread or the ingredients inside! I asked Cate about the sandwich shapes and she confirmed it is definitely more fun. 

  • 6. Googly Eyes 6 of 10
    googly eyes in the lunchbox

    Googly eyes can put a smile on anyone's face, especially if, when you open your lunchbox, your food is staring at you! I think this was my kids' favorite lunchbox pizzazz. We tried it with strawberries and edible eyes and it worked like a charm. Cate told me the strawberries were soooo cute and silly. Anna just kept asking if they were for her. Even later she commented, "Awwwww, the strawberries with the googly eyes are SO CUTE." Use craft googly eyes to stick onto the outside of containers and edible eyes to stick on actual food. 

  • 7. Stickers!! 7 of 10
    stickers in the lunchbox

    Another thing kids love is stickers. Whether you toss a few un-used stickers into their lunch as a reward for eating all their great food or you actually stick the stickers on the containers, the stickers are sure to earn you a big win.

    I asked the girls if they would like this in their lunch and they both enthusiastically yelled, "YEAH!"

  • 8. Hide a Joke 8 of 10
    hidden joke

    Some foods just aren't as fun to eat. You know, like kale chips. But my daughter Cate is willing to eat a baggie of kale chips if she knows there is a reward at the end, in this case a joke! Write a joke on a little piece of paper, fold it up and tape it to the bottom of the bag. When your child finishes their healthy snack, they will find a little piece of paper at the bottom of the bag with a joke! Kids love jokes. They will eat kale for jokes. Well, okay, so some kids, like my 9-year-old Cate, will eat kale for jokes. Cate loves the game and finds it very motivating. Other kids, like my 6-year-old Anna, on the other hand, might say things like, "You can just dig to the bottom and take the joke." You can't win 'em all!

  • 9. A Few Sprinkles Never Hurt Anybody 9 of 10
    sprinkles in granola bars web

    If you make a normally-healthy snack on a regular basis for your kids, mix it up sometime by adding some sprinkles! You don't have to do this all the time, especially since that makes it more special. It's a fun surprise for the kids to pull out their whole-grain granola bar or trail mix and find little flower sprinkles added in!

  • 10. Get the kids to plan and pack with you! 10 of 10
    getting kids to help plan lunches

    This may seem common sense, but in the rush of daily life, I find I often just plan all the meals and lunches without my kids' input. As soon as I say the words "What would make your lunch more interesting to you?" the kids are totally excited and the ideas start flowing. By giving them buy-in, my kids are automatically more excited about their food and ten times more likely to eat it.

Read more from Jane at This Week for DinnerKitchen Tunage and The Spoiler Alert. For more updates, follow Jane on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!

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