I've always said that if I wasn't a designer, I'd be working in the food industry in some capacity. I have also said before I actually became a mom that one of the things I couldn't wait to do was make school lunches.
I realize not everyone is wired like this, but I absolutely love making deliciously irresistible meals for G's lunch. I do think having a design background has really upped my lunch-packing game and I would like to share what I've learned over the last year:
1 | COLOR CAPTURES the attention and appetite of your hungry diner. Unless it's a holiday or a specific theme, I try to have a variety of colors represented.
2 | TINKER WITH TASTE AND TEXTURE. Squishy, crunchy, or chewy, sweet, salty, or sour – try to not have too many of one thing going on. As a general rule of thumb, I try to have a hearty main, two different veggies, two different fruits, and a treat in each lunch. Variety is certainly a key for success.
3 | MINIS. I enjoy hunting down "mini" or snack-sized products in the grocery store. These items will fit better in bento-style lunch boxes and are perfect for smaller hands.
4 | CONTAIN THE EXCITEMENT with a good-quality lunch box. I'm a big fan of the stainless steel models, but use whatever works best for your family. For G's first year in preschool, I used this cute bus-shaped tin but we upgraded to this one for PreK because she has a bigger appetite. The pros of the bento-style lunch boxes for me have been: portion control, reduction in the use of plastic bags, and durability.
5 | INVOLVE THE KIDS. This is for them, after all. While I don't have G helping with making her lunch yet, I do ask for her input on what she wants to see in her lunchbox. Surprises give them something to look forward to. This could be a homemade treat or some fun tools to help them eat their lunch (see my Faves page for ideas!). Little notes from home are also a lovely touch.
6 | ESSENTIALS are essential. Remember to include hand wipes, napkins, and/or hand sanitizer. For the napkins and hand sanitizer, I like to change these to mirror the seasons for a little festive fun. Also important to remember utensils.
I've discovered that blending my design background with my love for food has truly elevated my lunch-packing game. The six principles we've explored today—color, taste, texture, minis, lunch boxes, and involving the kids—have allowed me to create meals that not only nourish my child but also spark her excitement and anticipation each day. So, whether you're a fellow lunchtime enthusiast or just looking to make school lunches more exciting, I hope these tips inspire you to create memorable and satisfying lunches for your loved ones. Here's to many more colorful and creative lunches ahead!