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The Latest In Lunchboxes

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Presentation is part of the trick to making school lunches inviting for your children. Replace nondescript brown sacks with colorful, snappy containers and foods that put fun on the menu.

There’s a reason kids’ fast-food meals come in containers that look like starships. Just as adults appreciate food served with style and panache, children take pleasure in food presented with flare and a good bit of fun. So make your child’s next school lunch a wonderment with visual appeal. Design a tote, shape a sandwich and cut up fruits and veggies. Get your kids involved.


Since all children love stories, it’s easy to get them interested in eating foods that are part of a favorite tale. For instance, a younger child may enjoy the story of the Three Little Pigs. Make a lunch that includes three small pigs-in-a-blanket made with rolled lunch meat and crescent rolls or bread. If your child loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar story, make the bug by using several crackers divided by layers of cheese, lunch meats, peanut butter or jams. Or you and your child can make up your own story and the creatures in it.


The latest trend in carrying lunch is the bento box. Based on a Japanese bento, these boxes may be plastic containers not much different than you use to store foods. Most models have two or three food compartments. Some have containers within containers, so entrees, fruits and vegetables are each stored separately—something many kids appreciate.

Kids are wild about designer bentos. These come formed and painted to look like panda bears, frogs, kittens and other fun characters. Some come with handles, some travel in small tote bags and others are meant to slip into backpacks.

If you don’t want to invest, make your own bento boxes. Plastic containers can be dressed up with printed paper or you can paint animal figures on the box lid.

When purchasing boxes, there are several things to consider:

  • Is the box big enough? Many models may not offer enough capacity for an older child’s lunch.
  • Is the lid secured tightly? Make sure or there may be a mess.
  • Is the box dishwasher safe?

Inside the box, give foods a lift by wrapping them in printed paper, just like at fast-food restaurants. Cut sandwiches into favorite animal shapes. If you have fun with it, so will your child.

Here are some recipes that are perfect for your child's lunchbox:

Chicken Lettuce Wrap Wraps

Zoo Food

Perk up your child’s school year by making Tuesdays animal sandwich day. Leave ordinary choices to others. Fill the lunch box with sandwiches shaped like rhinos or dolphins, as above, or horses, pigs, lions or apes. Cut bread into animal shapes using a cookie cutter and fill with favorite ingredients. We chose Slow-Roasted Turkey Breast, one of Oscar Mayer’s Deli Fresh Meats. We added cucumber and condiments for a taste that will stay fresh until lunchtime.

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