Inspiration for the lunchbox

Inspiration for the lunchbox

August 22, 2012 |  by  |  Blog

August is slowly drawing to an end, to be followed by September and the day my oldest son heads off for his first day of kindergarten (yikes!). Besides gathering school supplies and cool weather clothing for this rite of passage, I’ve begun pondering school lunches. I’ve thrown together lots of picnic lunches this summer, but sending a healthy and enticing lunch to school five days a week is an entirely different task. These lunches are more than the nutrients to help my son grow; they also fuel his capacity to learn. They should be full of good things that he’ll actually want to eat.

I know myself; without a little inspiration, I’ll end up in a rut really fast rotating the same couple of lunches again and again. Boring to make, and boring to eat. So I’ve starting asking friends with older kids what they do and, of course, hitting the internet for tips. One idea that comes up repeatedly is to get the kids involved in making or planning their grub. That goes right along with what we’ve always tried to do with our kids; teach them about where their food comes from to get them excited to try new foods that are good for them, too. Farmers markets, u-pick farms, and tending to our own garden are frequent family outings.

I really like the suggestion of making a menu of favorite lunch items, and letting my son pick out choices for the week. It beats trying to pull creative ideas out of my tired head each morning before school. That’s one of the reasons I love that the Montavilla Farmers Market is held on Sundays. My son and I can shop the market before his school week starts, and pick up tasty and healthy items for his lunches. My hope is that involving him in the process of choosing what he’d like to eat each day will make him excited to gobble up his lunch. I also love that my son’s school has a community garden that provides opportunities for the students to learn about where food comes from and to sample different things. (The Vestal Community Garden will be having a Harvest Festival at 2pm on Saturday, Sept. 22 – stop by and check out this great resource in the Montavilla community).

Here are a few helpful sites that I discovered in my internet quest for tasty lunch ideas. How about you: what are your favorite sites or tips?





  1. Great topic!

    I’ll be the first to agree, that presentation will always jazz up a lunch box. Sometimes it’s all in how you cut the carrot, sandwich or cheese. Another trick is to not pack too much, and skip the dessert. Most kids go straight for the fruit or yogurt and then ignore the savory protein options.

    Many times instead of a sandwich, I’ll cut large carrots on the bias (diagonal) ending up with thin ovals. Between them I’ll add nut butter, top with another carrot, and voila, something different.

    Be sure to visit the Market for even more creative fun with vegetables. Our farmers are fantastic at growing the unusual and delicious to charm your lunchtime eater – of any age.

  2. I think no matter how creative we like to think we are, we all get stuck in the lunch rut. When you’re trying to come up with something new every day, that’s healthy, that they’ll actually eat, for an entire year, it’s easy to want to go screaming from the kitchen.

    We started a Fun Food Friday tradition when the kids weren’t in school, and I really tried to carry it over into the lunchbox with my kindergartner last year, when possible.

    Here’s a link to all our silly Friday lunches, for home and school:

    Here they are as thumbnails on Pinterest:

    And last, here’s my Pinterest board with fun kid lunch ideas from all different sources:

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