All it takes to turn mini cheese into crazy monsters is googly-eyes, non-toxic glue, and a kitchen knife. These fun characters are a great way to get the kiddos involved -- plus, you get a lot of bang for your buck; one monster making session and you've got a week's worth of cheese, making you savvy and, most likely, the coolest mom ever.
Try it: Cheese Monsters by Danya Banya
Kids love a good joke, no? Include a hilarious zinger that they can share with their friends at the lunch table or pull out to impress at a later time. And Kristen Duke has kindly done all the work for you. She's rounded up ten week's worth of kid-friendly jokes (plus holidays!) and turned them into printables, ready to print and pack.
Cathe Holden chronicles eight year's worth of adorable, hand-drawn notes over on her blog, but you don't have to be an artist to make an impression. Celebrate a recent accomplishment, wish them good luck on their test, remember something cool you did over the weekend, share a fun quote... My mom would even sometimes give me math problems to figure out and I'd totally do them (yeah, my family knows how to have a good time). And, yes, be extra creative and write the note on their napkin!
Bento boxes have a lot going for them. They're easy to pack because it's basically putting whole foods in separate sections, kids love them because they're special, and (at our house this is the biggie) they're not peanut butter sandwiches. And you can get crazy creative! People have created everything from Cinderella themed lunches to hilarious farm animals, although I tend towards the easy like this submarine version, which pretty much involves sticking a straw into a sandwich.
Try it: Submarine Lunch by Lisa Storms
Not sure you're ready to commit to an entire bento box diorama? Keep it simple (but impactful) with one of these adorable sandwich cutters. All it takes is a regular sandwich and little bit of muscle. Voila! An everyday PB & J is transformed into a highly edible (and purr-worthy) kitty-cat.
Try it: Sandwich Cutters by Cutez Cute
How adorable are these butterflies? Getting my kids to eat healthy snacks can sometimes be a bit of a chore, but I'm fairly certain these butterfly clothespins could talk them into it. Plus, the kids get two snacks for the price of one while you only have to use one baggie. Genius!
Try it: Butterfly Snacks by Juggling with Kids
I'm a huge fan of blackboard paint. I've used it to make wedding vases, paint a kids' work table, and one of these days I plan on painting a kitchen wall with it. So, of course, I love this lunchbox with a personalized spot for a daily message. It's easy to clean at the end of the day or even wipe away at lunch if they are easily embarrassed.
Try it: Blackboard Lunch Box by Freckles Craft
Who doesn't love food with personality? Take two minutes and dress up ordinary cling wrap with funny faces that are guaranteed to elicit giggles. Maki from Just Bento makes her own stickers but you could also keep it super-easy and buy a variety of googly-eyed stickers to get you through the school year.
Try it: Dressed Up Sandwiches by Just Bento
A message from mom is great, but a secret message? Now we're entering into awesome territory. And all it takes is a toothpick and a little time! I'm thinking this is a good one for everybody's lunch box, including my husband's ("Your wife loves fresh flowers and when people remember to unload the dishwasher...").
Try it: Magic Banana Message by Come Together Kids