Lunch is the highlight of almost every child's school day, and you can make it even more special by sending along one of these lunch-box treats. In addition to the ideas that follow, be sure to pack an occasional surprise: A favorite baseball card, a lollypop with a note ("Good luck on your spelling test"), or a word puzzle are all welcome departures from traditional brown-bag contents that are sure to convey to your child how much you are thinking about her.
Cut an apple crosswise, about one-third of the way down. Scoop out the flesh with a melon baller. Using a lemon stripper, carve the child's first initial into the flesh. Rub the cut areas with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning, then fill the cavity with chicken salad. Refrigerate inside a plastic container.
Zip up an everyday lunch by experimenting with various breads, such as pita. They come in many flavors and can be filled with everything from tuna salad to fresh vegetables to chicken. Olive breads or sweeter breads add flavor to old standbys like the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
Add a playful twist to standard sandwiches by cutting them, once assembled, with large cookie cutters. Stars, flowers, diamonds, and hearts are all delightful shapes, especially for kids who like the crusts cut off.
This crunchy creature is an ideal treat even for children with an aversion to eating greens. Slice a cucumber crosswise into discs about 1/2 inch thick. String them, slightly apart, onto a flexible drinking straw. To complete, give your caterpillar a plump cherry-tomato "head."
Oranges are a lunchtime favorite, but they can be tough for little hands to peel. Help out by doing the following: Slicing the tip off the orange top, then scoring the peel downward using a knife. Do this at four points around the circumference of the orange. Then, gently peel back each "segment," leaving the orange skin attached at the bottom, so it can be easily removed later.
Frozen Juice Box
Make sure juice stays cold after a long morning in the classroom by keeping juices boxes in the freezer. Once frozen, simply pop one into your child's lunch box as he sets out for school and it will melt by lunchtime.
Send a special note from you to school by stringing Fruit Loops or Cheerios onto an elastic string, then tying to make a bracelet. Attach a message such as "Have a great day" to the bracelet, then pop the tasty jewelry into the lunch box.