7 Ways to Make Your Kid’s Lunch More Extra

by Erin Goddard
Dec 1, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Let's just get this out of the way first: There’s no shame in hitting the snooze button a few times and then shoving a Lunchables and a juice box into your grade-schooler’s hands just seconds before the school bus pulls up. But there’s also no shame in setting your alarm early and waltzing into the kitchen armed with a glue gun and printouts of the most over-the-top Pinterest projects you could find. You do you, weird parents of the internet.

If you’re more tempted to do the latter but have the time-management skills of the former, you’re in luck. The following lunch box (or bento box, for the trend-savvy parents out there) hacks require just minimal time and effort, plus supplies you probably already have at home.

Sadly, we can’t guarantee these glammed-up lunches will result in your precious offspring suddenly loving celery sticks and hummus, but at least they’ll have something cool to look at aside from the “I love you, honeybunch!” Post-its you usually throw in there. And if all else fails, there's always cafeteria pizza day.

1 /8: Banana tats

1/8 :Banana tats

You know those temporary tattoos that keep popping up in birthday party goodie bags? Skip giving kiddo a rock star makeover — and spare yourself the frustration of scrubbing that semi-peeled ink off a wailing child before school — by saving the tats for snack time rather than your little rebel’s skin. Use a damp cloth to transfer a tattoo to the smooth peel of a banana for a fun, fruity surprise. Note: Don’t do this with fruits or vegetables that don't end up getting peeled. The tattoo is for aesthetics, not eating!

See the full tutorial at Pink Stripey Socks

2 /8: Crafty critters

2/8 :Crafty critters

Want to jazz up all those sandwich bags packed with apple slices and pirate’s booty? Grab a bag of peel-and-stick googly eyes from the craft store and give those lunch box basics some much-needed personality. Just add eyes — and, if you’re feeling super-silly, a stick-on mustache — to any surface you like as long as it isn’t edible. You don’t want the kids accidentally chomping on these plastic peepers.

See the full tutorial at Happy Home Fairy.

3 /8: Unicorn popcorn

3/8 :Unicorn popcorn

Raise your hand if you thought the unicorn food trend would have died out by now. Raise the other hand if you’re convinced you’ll be tossing sprinkles and mini marshmallows into your kid’s food for all eternity. Now drop those hands and use them to mix up a batch of unicorn popcorn, aka regular-old popcorn embellished with food coloring, candy melts and any other bonkers, achingly sweet ingredients you can find in your pantry. Run the popcorn through a sieve or colander to weed out unpopped kernels.

See the full tutorial at Living Life and Learning.

4 /8: Sandwich shapes

4/8 :Sandwich shapes

If merely cutting the crusts off a sandwich sounds like amateur hour to you, break out your cookie cutters and give those sammies a more creative makeover. For best results, use the cookie cutter on each ingredient (bread, cheese, lunch meat, etc.) individually before assembling the sandwich; toasting the bread first may also make for a more precise slice. You can also use mini cookie cutters to reshape veggie and fruit slices. Is your kid more likely to actually eat his “yucky” seven-grain bread if it's shaped like a stegosaurus? Only the cafeteria lady knows for sure.

See the full tutorial at Blog Loving.

5 /8: Fancy flatware

5/8 :Fancy flatware

There’s a lot to be said for finger food, but lunches that require a fork and knife can easily be jazzed up with just some watercolors. Ditch the plastic in favor of wooden cutlery, which you can upgrade with a few brushstrokes for a pretty, ombré effect. You can also turn to glitter glue, washi tape or even nail polish for your artistic snacks-pressions.

See the full tutorial at Kojo Designs.

6 /8: Cheesy creations

6/8 :Cheesy creations

To some, Babybel cheese wheels are lunch box basics. To others, they’re a canvas for your imagination. Using a sharp blade, you can (carefully) slice away the red waxy seal of an unwrapped Babybel and create different shapes and characters. A heart, a ninja warrior with raisin eyes, a fanged monster — there’s nothing stopping you from being the Dalí of dairy.

See the full tutorial at Dayna Banya.

7 /8: Alphabet city

7/8 :Alphabet city

You’ve already snuck some zucchini into that “chocolate” brownie; why not work a lesson in there while you’re at it? Alphabet-themed lunches are growing more popular, with parents using snacks (apples for A, banana for B, carrots for C and so on) to guide their littles through the ABCs. If you want to work on those counting skills too, consider doling out snacks by number: one yogurt, a sandwich halved in two, three apple slices, etc.

See the full tutorial at Holley Grainger.

8/8 :Pin it!

Pin this and get packing!