5 Secrets to a Successful Lunch Box

by Kate McMillan, author of The Lunch Box

There is nothing worse than pulling a lunch box out of a backpack only to find that your (adorable but discerning) child hasn't eaten a thing you've packed. Not only is it a waste of food (and time!), but you have to wonder: How did they get through the entire school day without any food?

So, how do we build a lunch box that makes mom proud and kids happy? We've got you covered. Here are some mom-tested/kid-approved ideas for building a lunch box that no child can resist.

5 Secrets to a Successful Lunch Box
  • Veg Out.

    Parents work hard to get kids to eat their vegetables at dinner, but the lunch box is a great place for veggies, too. Get creative with vegetables like shredded carrot salad with feta and raisins, or orzo with parmesan and broccoli. Frilly toothpicks with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella are sure to delight. Nori (dried seaweed) makes a great snack, and crisp lettuce leaves make a fantastic and sturdy wrap for tuna salad.

  • Grain Up.

    Whole grain bread is best because it packs a nutritional punch – remember, sandwiches are a lot more appealing to children when they are cut into fun shapes with a cookie cutter. Popcorn is a terrific whole grain snack, too. Muffins and scones are equally delicious when made with whole grain flour.

  • All hands on deck.

    A great way to get your kid energized about lunchtime is to get them involved. Save an extra couple of minutes in the morning (better yet, the night before) to let them prepare their own snack. This might be as simple as asking them to shell edamame or to spread almond butter and chopped dried fruit on a rice cake.

  • Share the love.

    Notes from mom and dad will produce ear-to-ear smiles from little ones and will have them eager for lunchtime. Words of encouragement like "I am proud of you" will instill confidence. A note from a big sister that reads "This was my favorite sandwich when I was in 1st grade" is sure to get an admiring toddler to taste something new.

  • Brown paper packages tied up with string.

    From toddlers to adults, we all eat with our eyes. The first thing our little ones see when they open their lunch box is the presentation. Buy containers with bright lids and get washable labels printed with their names. Create a collection of fun extras to liven things up: colorful striped straws, skewers with loopy ends, stickers to enclose sandwich sacks and a kid-friendly spreader to make lunch time interactive.

    These small efforts can produce big results. As children get older, they can help more and more with their lunches, which is the perfect preparation for when they are making their food choices all on their own. For now, we have an opportunity to improve their eating habits, one lunch box at a time.