Special and Fun Kids Lunch Ideas

Reinvent the brown bag! Fun lunch ideas for your preschooler

Make packed lunches special
Got a preschooler who is packing a lunch? Make lunchtime special with these easy ideas. Peter Dazeley

 While there are many preschools that host kids on a part-time basis (mornings or afternoons), there are some who have the kids all day or some who simply have lunch programs. My son's preschool used to host "Lunch Bunch," a voluntary program where kids could go to practice eating lunch away from home in preparation for kindergarten.

No matter why your preschooler eats lunch away from you, if he or she does, it can be fun for both of you if you add a little something special to his or her lunch box or lunch bag.

From simple to more complex, these ideas can be done every day or saved for occasions where you want to add a little punch to lunch.

  1. A lunch box note is a sweet and easy way for you to let your preschooler know how much you love him or her. Since many kids at this age cannot read yet, you'll have to get creative with your drawing or communication skills. Still simple doodles or stickers can go a long way to getting your message across. 
  2. Cut sandwiches into different shapes using cookie cutters.
  3. While you might have a picky eater who insists on eating the same thing every single day for lunch, there are plenty of fun ways to pack a lunch that is both healthy and fun. 
  4. Sure there are plenty of cool lunch boxes out there to choose from, but what about crafting one of your own? The folks at P&G have come up with some fun and easy lunch box crafts that you and your little one can create together. Get crafting: Making One-of-a-kind Lunchboxes
  1. Instead of bread, try making sandwiches on crackers or rolled up in tortillas.
  2. For most families, a packed lunch means a sandwich of some kind. But there are plenty of nutritious hot lunches that will your preschooler's belly. Easy to pack (if you have the right supplies), try one of these recipes from Today's Parent or even pack up some favorite leftovers from the night before. Pull out your thermos: 11 Portable Hot Lunches
  1. Sandwiches are old school. Try cut up veggies and different types of dip, such as hummus or bean dip. 
  2. An unexpected surprise is always fun in a lunch box. From confetti to small toys, from a small piece of candy to a special snack, Just make sure they are school-approved! Read more at Pop Sugar: 11 Cute Lunch Box Ideas for School

More Lunch Packing Advice

While it can be really fun and exciting to start packing your preschooler's lunch, there are a couple of tips you should keep in mind:

  • Most schools only allow at most, 30 minutes for lunchtime, and many are even less than that. So make sure what you pack for your preschooler can be eaten quickly.
  • Be reasonable about what you add to the lunch box. Will your little one really eat a main entree, two snacks, and a drink? Think about what your preschooler eats on a normal basis, then factor in the amount of time, and the amount of socializing he or she will likely be doing. You don't want the lunch you pack to be wasted.
  • Consider food safety. If you are packing a cold lunch, include an ice pack or freeze your child's juice box or water bottle. Depending on what time your child eats, it should defrost in time for your child to drink it.

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