Send some love in your child's lunch box this Valentine's Day. It's easy to pull a lovey-dovey bento lunch box together for your sweetie with just a few simple tools and techniques. Heart-shaped cookie cutters rule the day, transforming sandwiches, pizza, or biscuits into packable valentines. Pair them with red and pink fruits and veggies and lunch is like a love letter in the middle of the day.
Cute Cut-Out Sandwich
Cut bread slices into heart shapes before assembling a sandwich to make a grand statement. To make it even cuter, you can cut a smaller heart from the top slice (strawberry jam looks especially nice peaking through) and stamp a sweet message into the bread. Use the same small cutter on halved strawberries.
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Humble salami slices become a Valentine's rose: fold them in half and then layer them into a silicone baking cup. Start by tucking a slice against the side of the cup, then overlap additional slices working your way toward the center. You can also cut biscuits into heart-shapes instead of circles before baking -- they make a fun lunchbox treat. Write a message on the top using food-coloring markers and add them to a bento box along with strawberry hearts, orange slices, and a few carrot sticks.
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Add a few heart-shaped baking sprinkles to the top of some raspberry yogurt for a sweet lunch box treat. While you're there, make a few mini sandwiches with a round cookie cutter and top them with hearts cut from red fruit leather.
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What kid would say "no" to a mini pizza in his lunch box? None that I know! Use a heart cutter on a leftover slice to make it especially endearing to little ones.
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Cutie Pie Stuffed Sandwich
Use a hand pie mold in the shape of a heart to make a stuffed sandwich. Use the mold to cut two slices of bread, add a soft filling, then seal the sandwich with the pie mold. Make it look like a Valentine candy by adding a short message cut from fruit leather.
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Conversation hearts are a favorite Valentine candy and you can add them to a bento box in a healthy way. Raid the Valentine section at the supermarket for cupcake decorations and tuck them in with berries and carrots. Next, fill a treat box with a little dip for the veggies, then cut a sandwich into a heart and top it with fruit leather cut-outs.
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Combine Valentine's day with your kid's favorite characters for extra lunch box fun. My son loves super heroes so I used stamping cutters to make a couple mini-sandwiches, then added heart sprinkles and lots of fruit leather hearts to the sides, including crunchy chickpeas, in his lunch.
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Apple of My Eye Bento Box
Cut just through the skin on a piece of apple with a small heart-shaped cutter. Carefully remove the peel using the tip of a sharp paring knife, then pair the apples with leftover chicken, radish slices and corn puffs in a bento box.
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Your child will feel your love at the school lunch table when you stamp a message into the top of her sandwiches. For a special treat, pour homemade pudding directly into one of the compartments of her bento box and chill over night. In the morning, add some seasonal sprinkles to the top of the pudding.
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Valentine Muffin Tin
If you're staying home for lunch, consider serving a meal in a muffin tin. Add a little bit of this and that -- yogurt, cheese and crackers, small sandwiches -- and make sure you cut lots of hearts before serving.