School Lunches for Special Days

By Karen Schmidt
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FOTF/Cary Bates

Liven up your kids' lunchboxes with something different.

My son smiled when he saw what was in his lunch. I had added green food coloring while hard-boiling an egg. Then I packed the green egg with chunks of ham and some crackers — my version of “green eggs and ham” from the classic kids’ book by Dr. Seuss.

School lunches have allowed me to remind my child about special occasions and let him know I’m thinking of him. Here are some unique ways I did this:

Birthdays

I like using the age of my child to measure out lunch items on birthdays. When my son was 9, I cut my son’s sandwich into nine strips and gave him nine grapes, baby carrots, black olives, peanut butter bites and gummy bears.

Thanksgiving

 Enhance the historical side of this holiday by including foods the Pilgrims and Indians might have eaten. Consider dried fruit and jerky, with some cheese cubes for protein. Add a square of cornbread since corn was a main food source, and include some maple syrup or honey to dunk it in. Then create a note card that you and your child can use to share what you’re thankful for. 

Christmas

Cookie cutters come in handy for Christmas. One December, I used a star cookie cutter to press out mini-sandwiches, cheese pieces and homemade star-shaped cookies. Star fruit slices are cool if your child likes trying new fruits.

100th Day of School

Think of ones and zeros when the 100th day of school rolls around, and pack foods that can become the numeral 100. For the “zeros,” try mini-bagel halves, homemade biscuits, or kiwi or cucumber slices. For the “ones,” include pretzel sticks, veggie sticks, egg rolls, cheese sticks, sandwich wraps (rolled) or a pickle spear.

Valentine’s Day

I go for all pink and red items, including pink homemade buns for the sandwich, red wax-encased cheeses, raspberry or cherry yogurt, strawberries and a napkin with hearts and funny sayings on it.

St. Patrick’s Day

I pack a green lunch filled with items such as a lettuce-wrapped sandwich with green-tinged mayo, kiwi or green apple cubes to dip in lime yogurt. A green sugar cookie or a graham-cracker-and-green-frosting sandwich top off the lunch.

Easter

Tinting coconut flakes green to look like decorative grass livens up an Easter-themed rel=”noopener noreferrer” lunch. I also add a love note from Jesus to let my son know that God loves Him. 

Cinco de Mayo

My child’s surprise at finding themed food on a day like Cinco de Mayo is always worth the extra work. Packing tortilla chips with small plastic containers of salsa, grated cheddar and sliced olives gives my child a chance to make a nacho concoction. Adding a napkin inscribed with a Spanish saying like Te amo (I love you) rounds out the meal.

Graduation

Celebrate the last day of school with a picnic-style meal that invokes the feeling of summer: confetti pasta salad with colorful bits of veggies — peas, red peppers, carrots, and olives — or a hot dog. Then add watermelon chunks to the meal. If you want the graduation ceremony to be the focus, turn an egg or tuna salad wrap into a diploma by tying baker’s twine to it.

Copyright © 2013 by Karen Schmidt. Used by permission. 

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