Valentine's Day is coming up, and wouldn't It be fun to pack a little extra love in the lunch box?
To help you plan ahead, I've pulled together all the lunches I made for Valentine's week last year, and my top tips for how to make Valentine's lunch packing fun and easy. All of these lunches were super quick and easy to make, with just a few extra little tools and accessories. You don't have to make any special foods - you can make any food look fun and special. With a few cutters, picks, and baking cups, you can add lots of little heart shaped touches to what would otherwise be a normal lunch.
Here are some suggestions for adding extra Valentine's love to your lunches:
1: Use Baking cups and cupcake liners
Use heart shaped baking cups or muffin cups as dividers to make extra sections in your bento lunch box, and to add extra pops of color. They are a great way to keep foods separate (which is one of my top tips for packing lunches ahead!). You can even use heart or valentine patterned cupcake liners to line the smaller sections of your lunch box.
2: Mini Shape cutters
Use a mini heart cutter to make heart cutouts in fruit and veggies. Press gently with a sharp cutter to make just an impression, or cut part way through to peel off just an outer layer. You can even pop the heart out of one item and stick it into the heart shaped hole in another, for a fun and easy little inset heart. To make a little window in a sandwich, cut a small heart out of just the top piece of bread.
3: Mini letter cutters
Try using mini letter cutters to write out love notes in the food, or simple thoughts like just XO or LOVE. Try spelling out "I (heart) U", or "BE MINE", or anything you might have seen on those fun little valentine conversation hearts. Or you can even spell the child's name.
4: A few little knife tricks
Cut the tops of strawberries in a little V - it makes them look like hearts. Cut grapes, grape tomatoes, or even mini hot dogs in half at an angle, then turn one piece upside down and put back together in the shape of a heart, secure with a toothpick or a fun little bento pick.
5: Make Heart pancakes
They're easier than you think! We love packing breakfast for lunch, so how about a Valentine's Day themed breakfast for lunch? Make your pancake batter a little thinner than usual and pour it into something you can squirt out of - an icing bottle or a condiment squeeze bottle. Then it just takes a little practice to draw out your pancakes on a hot pan and fill them in.
6: Heart Sandwiches
Various sizes of heart cookie cutters are great for sandwiches, cheese, and even fruit. Tip for cutting shaped sandwiches: for best results, cut the pieces separately and then assemble, rather than trying to cut through layers of an already made sandwich.
7: Fruit Hearts
You can turn just about any kind of fruit into a heart, and I think there's no better way to add sweetness to a lunch! Cut apples into slices crosswise, and then use a little heart cutter to take out the section with the seeds. You can leave that open or fill in with another fruit, or even cheese. In one of these lunches I cut slices of pineapple in hearts with a medium cutter, and then used the small cutter for the center. Or use a small cutter to just make a mark on a banana - it will darken quickly to reveal the shape.
8: Accent with sweet color
Red berries add an immediate pop to the lunchbox - fresh strawberries and raspberries, offset with a few blueberries. And those sweet little red babybel cheese are great too. You can even peel off the wrapper and use mini letter cutters to make a little XO, or a mini heart cutter to make a heart in the wax. You can add extra touches of color by including colored cloth napkins - the ones here are just a microfiber dishcloth.
9: Include a love note
Include a fun note, either handwritten or printed, to add just a little extra valentine's love!
10: And don't for get to have fun!
Honestly, why do this if you can't have fun with it? I enjoy playing around with my kids food a bit - if I'm going to be packing four lunches for 180 school days each year, why not make some of them a little fun? Especially if it only takes a couple of extra minutes!
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