Are you burned out from packing school lunches all year long? And now you're looking forward to a whole summer of feeding your kids at home. But having lunch at home can be fun, too. Here are some simple and frugal (or free!) things you can do to make the kids' lunches at home more fun this summer.
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Sprinkles. Sprinkles are basically colored sugar, but they can add a lot of fun to a meal in just a few seconds. We have a sprinkle collection my kids can select from to put on certain foods like yogurt or applesauce. Adding sprinkles to yogurt may seem over-the-top, but my daughter won't drink milk so I do what I can to get some dairy in her diet. You can even make your own sprinkles if you're so inclined. Tip: Pick up sprinkles on clearance after holidays!
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Cookie Cutters. Cookie cutters in all shapes and sizes are another way to make summer lunches fun for kids. And since you likely already have some on hand, it's free! Use large cutters to cut sandwiches or tortillas into fun shapes. Smaller cookie cutters can be used on slices of fruit, cucumbers, or to make your own crackers.
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Have a Picnic. At the park, the beach, your back yard, or even just in the living room, picnic food is always more fun! Just spread a blanket down to set the mood (and for easy clean-up) and you're done. You could also set up a tent, build a blanket fort, or eat under the table.
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Muffin Tin Meals. I've posted dozen of muffin tin meals I've done with my kids over the past few years. A muffin tin meal doesn't have to be complicated. Serve a meal (or a snack) in a muffin tin or in muffin cups, and it's instantly more fun!
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Food Coloring. This one is more fun as a surprise – color something an unusual color. Make pink pancakes or green milk. Stir a drop into some sour cream for dipping quesadillas in. You can also color water or milk and paint on bread or tortillas before toasting.
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Picks. Use fancy toothpicks or plastic cupcake picks for kids to pick up cut pieces of fruit or cheese, or to hold together mini wraps or sandwiches. I found these umbrella picks in the paper goods aisle.
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Themes. A theme could be as simple as foods that are all the same color, or as elaborate as following a favorite book or movie. A shape theme is another simple idea. Go here for more themed lunch ideas.
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Animal Plates. The Hefty ZooPals divided animal plates are a super easy way to make a boring summer lunch more appealing. I very rarely buy things like this, so my kids were very excited to see their lunches served on toucan and frog plates. Be on the lookout for printable coupons to make these fun plates more frugal.
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Candy eyeballs. I'm sorry, but what food wouldn't be more fun with eyes? Just like the April Fool's joke I played by gluing googly eyes to everything in the refrigerator, sticking candy eyes onto your child's lunch is sure to create some giggles! See more uses of Wilton candy eyeballs here. I got mine at Walmart, but they are also available on Amazon.
Fun Summer Lunch Tip: Let them help. From gardening and picking out fresh produce at the farmer's market, to stirring, cutting and dishing up, getting kids to help prepare their own food is a great way to make things interesting. Your library may have a section of kids' cookbooks with lots of fun ideas, or browse our Cooking with Kids posts.
For more fun lunch ideas: