For a lot of us the summer vacation is long, and we spend a month or more preparing in advance. We secure places in summer camps, organize play dates, book a family vacation, and try to fill in all of those days in-between with activities to keep our little ones happy and entertained. One thing we often forget to plan for is what we will be eating during the day. Throughout the school year Monday through Friday we are either preparing school lunches, or sending our children off to school where they will purchase lunch from the cafeteria, but what happens when they are home every day?
I have simple tips ahead from menu planning for kids this summer, as well as some fun ideas for creative lunches that the kids can help prepare.
Let’s start with the fun lunches I created for my kids recently.
My little man is all boy. He loves running his construction trucks through sand and rocks, frequently turns our house into a model railroad museum, and loves dinosaurs. So he absolutely loved this lunch:
Aside from a fun dinosaur shaped sandwich cutter, and cookie or fondant cutters, all you need to make this fun lunch are a few simple ingredients:
- Sandwich filling (we chose cheese)
- Your child’s favorite cereal (we used Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
Cut the bread, and any solid fillings such as cheese or lunch meat individually. The higher the sandwich the more likely it is to go out of shape or split (especially very fresh bread), as you slice through it with the sandwich cutter. I used fondant cutters in a small star and circle to make the stars and moon.
My daughter loves all things butterflies, and flowers. I think her favorite time of year is Spring, she just seems happier spending time outdoors chasing butterflies, pointing at birds in the sky, and smelling the flowers. So I made her this fun lunch:
- Butterfly crackers
- Cracker filling (we used cheese)
- Annie’s bunny crackers
Slice mango and watermelon and using fun fondant flower cutters make some bright colorful flowers to place on the lettuce lawn. A red and green grape caterpillar makes his way through the grass while bunnies hop over the top and butterflies fly high in the sky.
Tip: Don’t let the scraps from your fun shapes go to waste. Pop the leftover fruit in a blender with milk and yogurt and make smoothies for the kids to enjoy with their lunch.
I have a few more suggestions for fun summer lunches:
- Teach your little ones how to make their own sandwich, and wash fruit.
- Give the kids a picnic blanket, and basket, offer suggestions for picnic food, and let them enjoy a picnic in the backyard
- Are you going to the beach? Make a sea themed lunch. What about taking the kids on a nature walk. Make a themed lunch to take along with you.
- Head to the Farmer’s Market and let your kids choose some healthy options and then enjoy a picnic in a park nearby.
- Set up a make-your-own lunch bar, you could include pizzas, wraps, or sandwiches.
- Muffin tin meals are popular at the moment. Lay out a couple of muffin tins and let the kids fill each section with a different food. You could have a color of the day, or a theme, just make sure they choose healthy options.
- Bento boxes are fun and you can prepare a couple ahead of time. Make a selection of Bento boxes including fruit, rice, pasta salad, yogurt tubs and other food items that will keep well for a couple of days in the refrigerator. The kids can then help themselves to a Bento box of their choosing when they are hungry.
Here are a few links with great ideas for fun lunches that are kid friendly.
- How to Plan the Perfect Picnic
- Earth Day Bento Boxes
- School Lunches That Will Make you a WonderMom (you can use this great idea at home too)
- Planning Kids Lunches by Color
- Healthy Lunches Your Kids Will Love