Easy back-to-school food art ideas for your kids' lunches
Parents on Pinterest are really into these food styling tricks
If adults are so into food art on Instagram, then you can imagine what it does for a kid at lunchtime. Studies show people do actually eat with their eyes and that the colour, shape and evenness of food presentation all help make up the visual cues that alter the way we perceive taste and flavour. That's one of the reasons why parents of the Internet are really big on clever food presentation ideas to encourage picky eaters. It's also a nice way to show your kids you care. But even if you're not the best avocado artist and even if you're really really short on time, it doesn't mean you don't care! So, we've found a nice middle range of easy back-to-school food styling ideas for your kids' lunches that anyone can pull off, regardless of skill.
Appealing and achievable bento boxes
Your food artistry skills don't have to extend beyond simple patterns and colour blocking, as mother of two Wendy Copley of Wendolomania shows in her bento food styling for marthastewart.com. From simple garden-inspired twists to cookie cutters and stamps, basic tools and tricks can take you a long way when it comes to kids' food design. Her book is full of adorable ideas anyone can achieve.
Drawing on stuff
Here's a trick we can all tackle — drawing on things like hard boiled eggs and bananas. Even a hurried little doodle can make someone's lunch extra special. You can write out your child's name, or write out a joke, or copy some of these ideas.
The Foodtastic Mom turned a banana into a Minion, which is the cheapest and most potassium-rich Minion item you can probably score.
Packaged with personality
An even bigger timesaver is to stock up on different sizes of stick-on googly eyes from your local dollar or craft store to turn any treat into a character.
Ciara created the site My Fussy Eater to share ideas she'd developed to get her daughter to eat a better and more diverse diet and to "put some fun back into meal time" and we like the simplicity of drawing a fun face.
Dawn Lopez, creator of Cutefetti, shows us how to turn packaged grocery store snacks into cute puppies. You can get creative with all kinds of different packaged goods if you have your googly eyes and a marker handy.
And if you're thinking ahead towards Halloween, or for a spooky snack year-round, Meaghan of The Decorated Cookie is one of the many parents online who likes making fruit mummies.
A little more sculptural…
There's an endless number of inspiring bento box creations for kids of all ages but the best place to start is with my favourite, Canadian bento box artist Shannon Casorso. Ideas from her site Love at First Bento are all over Pinterest — everything from edible crayon boxes to Hello Kitties.
Shannon's Milk and Cookies design is a really good sweets bait and switch — it's mostly made of potato and ham and rice.
Her Rilakkuma Rice Balls are a really easy one to start with because you can shape the balls by hand.
Did you know you that you can buy edible pens to write on food and turn a bag of crackers into a fun puzzle game?
The Kids Activities blog suggests a "How many words can you make with these letters" challenge or an unscramble challenge and we like that you can add a little fun and learning to the lunch experience at the same time.
Sandwich art for every occasion
Finally, sandwich art remains the most popular idea in the kids' lunch design biz and there's no better place to visit for an endless variety of inspiration and instructionals than the CBC Kids lunch ideas page.
Jill Dubien says these Cute and Easy Animal Sandwiches take only two minutes to make and are "a great way to sneak in some veggies too".
Large cookie cutters — keep an eye out for ones the size of a slice of bread — help take the design up a notch.
And as we hurtle through the school year, don't forget to switch it up for special occasions. Jill Dubien suggests themed variations, like this Easy Valentine's Day Bento Lunch and Easy St. Patrick's Day Bento.