20 Perfect Toddler Lunches That Will Make You Feel Like A Crappy Mom

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Anyone who ever said parenthood is not a competition either lives in a bubble, or wishes that they did. Everyone here is a grownup (or a 9-year-old who knows how to work the internetz), so it’s safe to assume that we all know that we are not supposed to compare ourselves as parents, or our craft projects on Pinterest or so-and so’s Facebook life to our own. But having said that, many of us do. Even if we try not do. So in the spirit of mocking The Parent Olympics, let’s all in indulge in some Pinterest-worthy food porn for toddlers.

I’ve made many a toddler lunch in my day. Generally, those lunches tend to look like this:

toddler lunch

(photo: joniedelman)

Not exactly pleasing to the eye, but the kid eats. Mission accomplished. However, the next 20 toddler lunches go well beyond function. They are art. And we can all aspire. Or not and simply order more pizza. YAY!

1. Drumstick perfection


The foil is what really makes this enviable.

(photo:  Biggie*)

2. Rice faces

rice lunch

First of all, I’m amazed that your kid would even eat rice with anything in it.

(photo: tomono♪♪)

3. Creative with cones

cone fishies lunch

Great for those kids who bitch about the ice cream and just want the soggy cone.

(photo: eclectic_chica)

4. Squid sausage


I do this with my sauages all the time. You don’t?

(photo:  Biggie*)

5. Shoes as sandwiches

shoes in sandwhichesEverything a mini prima donna needs, right down to grape diamond rings.


6. Cheese as stars

Chewbaca lunchPlus Chewbacca and strawberry skewers.


7. Cucumbers as flowerscute pizza lunchBecause you have so much time for stuff like this.


8. Puzzle pieces over meat rollspuzzel lunchLeft over from your cocktail hour, of course.


8. Star Wars, round twoStar Wars Bento Lunch You were only getting started with Chewbacca.


9. Hiding chickenchick bentoNo, it’s not Easter. It’s just Wednesday.

(photo: bentomom)

10. Pre-rolling your kid’s meat and cheese

bat bento

They make the most perfect little rolls.


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  1. Ptownsteveschick

    August 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    These are less intimidating if you imagine the mom in her pajamas, gobbling up the leftover negatives from the cookie cutter foods over the sink like a goblin.

    • Koa_Beck

      August 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm


    • Eve Vawter

      August 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      ….stop spying on me Ptown

    • Ptownsteveschick

      August 1, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      I wasn’t spying on you, I was looking at my reflection in the window.

    • Eve Vawter

      August 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Hee hee same dif!

    • allisonjayne

      August 1, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      YES that is what I was thinking. Using cookie cutters on food make sense because then you can eat the scraps without feeling like you’re stealing food from your kid!

    • Kiers Kay

      August 1, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Hahahaha…That made me snort! My six year old cracked up too when I read it to her.

    • koolchicken

      August 1, 2013 at 10:09 pm

      It’s exactly what Mums do. The point is to create a meal a child won’t want to waste. And the fruit, meat, and veggie scraps make for healthy breakfast extras.

  2. Youthier

    August 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I’m just relieved other moms rip up meat and cheese, rinse some fruit, and give their kid a piece of bread or some crackers and calls it lunch. I’m on par!

    • That_Darn_Kat

      August 2, 2013 at 8:59 am

      My son’s favorite, go-to lunch was turkey, ham cubes, pees, carrots, celery, bell peppers, cheese and pickles. Given how picky dude is, I totally just threw a couple of these on a plate and let him go to town.

    • technicolorpachyderms

      August 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      PEES?! 😉

    • That_Darn_Kat

      August 7, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Yep, pees. I know, blows my mind. Those veggies I listed are pretty much the only ones he’ll eat, too, so there’s that, lol.

    • brebay

      December 31, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      lol, we got it 😉

    • Courtney Lynn

      August 2, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Yup. My son loves his “quesadilla”, a microwaved tortilla with some cheese in the middle. A lot of times it’s a cut up banana and some grilled cheese, too.

  3. CB

    August 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Pretty much every small child I’ve ever met has refused to eat food that touches, so all these beautiful, artsy meals are making the inner me cringe at the impending temper tantrum that I’m imagining.

    • LiteBrite

      August 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      Yeah, I looked at these and thought, “Cute, but no way in hell my kid would eat them.” Maybe now he would, but most likely he’d take the bat, or the Star Wars figures, and use them to play, thus delaying lunch time even more.

      Most days the kid is lucky he’s even getting lunch.

    • jsterling93

      August 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      These were made for photos. Generally you use the little silicone cups to separate things so they don’t touch.

  4. historychick79

    August 1, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Ahhhh, adorable but one more item for the mommy competition. Just looking at these makes me a bit more tired. Especially since my otherwise easygoing 3yr old son only eats about 3 kinds of solid ‘real’ foods a week, and it’s always a bit of a mystery what those foods will be and these acceptable items shift without warning; if it isn’t milk it’s just not trusted. I just can’t get the energy up do to more than make the occasional smiley face or cut sandwiches up with his dinosaur bread cutter.

    • Ptownsteveschick

      August 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      If he gets a smiley face ever and you actually own a special bread cutter you are one up on me. I fold over a piece of wheat bread, slap some peanut butter on it, throw a few carrots next to it and call it good.

  5. LadyClodia

    August 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    My friend and neighbor is Japanese, and she makes bento lunches like these for her kids’ school lunches. She has a bunch of neat things to make the shapes that she’s brought back from Japan. She already had a set so she gave me hard boiled egg molds that will make the eggs look like a car or plane, but my boys don’t like eggs, so I’ve never used them.

    • Rachel Sea

      August 1, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      I started making onigiri at home after seeing the genius that was a Japanese family’s lunch at an amusement park, but it would take more effort than I’m interested in expending to make them look like the cast of Totoro.

    • LadyClodia

      August 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      I love onigiri, but my boys won’t eat rice (or sandwiches for that matter,) so I don’t see myself making bento for them anytime soon.

    • koolchicken

      August 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Those egg molds are super cute, I have some myself. My husband loves it when I make him car shaped ones- it feeds his inner four year old. 🙂

      I’m lucky to live in HI, I can get many of those things at my local drugstore! I have a whole cabinet devoted to bento with everything from character boxes to fancy lacquer ones. Because I live in HI and I have celiac disease I can’t eat in many restaurants. When we go out bringing my own food, artfully arranged in a pretty box totally makes up for not getting restaurant food. It doesn’t need to look like a character, just having nori faces on my rice, and my fruit on a flowered skewer is enough.

  6. SDA

    August 1, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    The biggest stress with these is the amount of $$ you spend at Williams Sonoma for cutesy cookie-cutters. Once you’ve paid off your credit card, the cutting is easy! (Or so I would imagine)

    • koolchicken

      August 1, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      The real Japanese bento accessories are cheap. Most cost about a $1. I have a drawer filled with baran (plastic dividers), tiny sauce bottles, cutesy picks, rice molds, tiny cutters, and more. I spent about $30 total over the course of several years.

    • koolchicken

      August 1, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Here’s a photo, seriously $30 if that. I wash and reuse everything. So you can go the (crazy) expensive Williams Sonoma or ebay route. Or, if you’re lucky and travel a lot, make a foreign friend, or live somewhere with bento culture it’ll cost you very little. I even have branded boxes that cost as little as $2. Fancy and fun doesn’t have to cost a ton.

    • SDA

      August 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Nice. I need to speak with my foreign traveling aunt STAT!

  7. gammachris

    August 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I’ve raised three kids to adulthood. I don’t think I EVER once made a cute lunch for anybody. I sure didn’t cater to anybody’s appetite (though I do now, ironically when my oldest comes to dinner-he’s developed a chicken allergy, of all things). They are all healthy and reasonably bright most of the time, and they all seem to love me anyway.

  8. Zettai

    August 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I love the cuteness of bento lunches, but am I the only one who was grossed out by the goldfish crackers mixed with fruit? Maybe?

  9. keelhaulrose

    August 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    My plan to keep my child’s expectations of food presentation low have worked: she’s impressed when she gets to use corn holders.
    Seriously, with the way she eats I doubt she’d notice I did something cute with her food. More power to moms who go this route, but I’m glad my daughter isn’t going to be upset when she doesn’t see Hello Kitty in her sandwich.

    • disqus_RcnfTzAghr

      August 1, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Hey, I’m impressed when I get to use corn holders, and I’m the one preparing the corn.

    • Véronique Houde

      August 2, 2013 at 7:54 am

      I’m just afraid that, once you start cutting their food with awesome cookie cutters and little ring-picks, they would throw a fit and refuse to eat whenever you DON’T do it…

  10. Helen Hyde

    August 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I had to make my own school lunches, and I could never get it together in the morning enough to do more than two slices of dry bread and a carrot (honestly) so… Yeah. My lunches for my kid look a lot like money. For a special occasion though I’d like to do something like this, how hard could it be… (Aka the Pinterest motto!)

  11. keelhaulrose

    August 1, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I think the first Elmo is Cookie Monster. Just my OCD talking.

    • Brighid

      August 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      It totally is. I hate Elmo. So I hate that he’s credited twice.

    • KB

      August 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      It’s definitely Cookie Monster. Clues: cookies, cookie-crazed eyes.

  12. Katie L.

    August 1, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Yeah. I’m a teacher and I see what happens to these lovingly packed, cute lunches. They pick out the stuff they want to eat, dump the rest in the garbage and head out to recess. The whole process takes 12 minutes at most. At least none of these are packed in glass like I’ve seen parents send with Kindergarteners.

  13. CleverTitleTK

    August 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I have an idea for a blog: I’m going to take pictures of all the food that comes home uneaten in my kids’ lunchboxes. So there.

    • Koa_Beck

      August 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      This would be amazing

    • Cee

      August 1, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      As someone that works in education, i will say…80% of it.

  14. Hoosier in the UK

    August 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    My almost 3 yr old lives on chicken nuggets, spaghetti, tortalini, and sausages, and pizza…. Maybe some real fruit if we’re lucky and only veg if we hide it in something (the spag) he’d play with the toys in the box but never eat that stuff. My older 2 if they wanted to take their lunch, they had to make it the night before and it usually consisted of pb&J. Little Debbies and chips. Don’t judge. But kudos to those moms who actually do this.

    • technicolorpachyderms

      August 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Sounds healthy.

  15. geckomommy

    August 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Okay, moms…is it safe to have skewers like that in a kid’s lunch? So many of these have skewers of some kind, often attached to something that looks like a toy. I know the headline says toddler lunches, but I’m thinking these must be for older kids. Right?

    • Shelly Lloyd

      August 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      you know that is a good point. I have heard that some schools have asked parents not to send pack lunches that have toothpicks or pointy objects because they are worried the kids will hurt themselves or each other and they (the school) would be stuck with an expensive lawsuit.

    • koolchicken

      August 1, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      It is safe. The problem is many people believe their kid will act out and kids like to live up to their parents expectations. Try to remember that these accessories are being produced overseas. In a country where meal time and rumpus time aren’t synonymous with one another. So no, they aren’t for older kids preschoolers are getting them. And they are expected to sit, behave, and eat like civilized individuals. Shocking I know.

  16. Hoosier in the UK

    August 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    oh and looking at those pics don’t make me feel crappy…they make me feel thankful that I actually have a life and don’t spend it making cutesy lunches for my kid.

  17. koolchicken

    August 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    These actually aren’t that difficult to produce. Yes some of them are elaborate and many are done solely for the photo. But the everyday bento of most schoolchildren is cute, but simple. There are a billion and one accessories to make things like the hotdog octopus and they take seconds to use. I have pretty much all of them myself and can tell you that the time spent reading this post and commenting is about the amount of extra time something like this takes to produce. So yeah, if you’re busy on here it sounds like your kid won’t be getting a lunch that looks like this today. There is time it’s just about how you choose to spend it.

    As for the food touching and the rice, try to remember this food is being served to children of another culture. Some of these kids are here in the US, others are not. Even the ones born here don’t necessarily have the ridiculous picky tendencies of most US kids. In fact bento is often used to keep children from becoming picky in the first place. They’re tiny and parents are encouraged to put foods their child doesn’t like into them (in very small amounts) until the child gets used to them. The teachers go around to be sure everyone eats everything (because its wrong to waste food) and talk to the children about why they need to eat what was prepared and they report the discussions back to the parents. Making a bento for someone is seen as an act of love, eating what’s in it is reciprocating that love.

  18. Justme

    August 1, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    From some of the articles I’ve read, the mothers who make those amazing Bento box lunches for their children actually spend many late nights creating their artistry. Good for them…but that’s not for me. I’d rather sleep.

    In the past few articles of this nature, many commenters have raised the point that people aren’t out there conducting scientific studies or having perfect home births JUST TO MAKE ALL MOTHERS FEEL BAD. They are just doing their job and living their lives and its the outsiders who are choosing to feel offended or attacked. I’m reminded of a recent article by Glennon Melton – you know, the “stop pointing your avocado at me” one?

    If you boiled many of us mothers down to what we do with our kids onto a piece of paper….I bet a lot of us would look like THOSE sanctimonious kinds of mothers that we all hate. I’ll come clean: my daughter didn’t watch tv the first two years of her life, she is not allowed to play with our phones, nor do we keep any sort of juice in the house – she drinks water and milk. She is barely two and potty trained. I cook homemade meals at least three times a week and she eats fruit and veggies with almost every meal. BUT…I’m not doing any of this to make anyone else feel bad! I do it because it works for our family and is in line with the kind of adult we want to send out into the world. But it’s also a huge crapshoot because I could be doing it all wrong….who knows?!

    I guess my point is this….I’ve bee commenting on this site long enough to *get* the sense of humor and sarcasm, that’s what attracted me in the first place. But I gotta say…a lot of the poking fun of mothers who do the “right” thing (whatever the hell that means) can be hurtful because I don’t think they’re necessarily doing it to make anyone else feel bad.

    • Koa_Beck

      August 1, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      Hi Justme!

      I agree with you in that “together” moms who are going about their best decisions aren’t aiming to MAKE ALL MOTHERS FEEL BAD. But Mommyish is a place of “parenting imperfect” and celebrating, laughing, and poking fun at the many, many stigmas that parents, but primarily mothers, must wade through. The mothers who do the “right” thing have plenty of affirming parenting media that tells them that they’re doing everything “right.” But the ladies who don’t, for whatever reason, are my intended audience, specifically because they don’t have lives that look like Pinterest boards and therefore have little representation as mothers who love and care for their children. None of my work is intended to be hurtful. We don’t take ourselves that seriously. Thank you for reading!

    • Justme

      August 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Well, in that case perhaps I’m better off elsewhere. Thanks for the response.

    • Justme

      August 1, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      I can’t figure out how to go back and edit…so here’s my lengthier response.

      I will be the first person to tell you that I am in no means the perfect parent, wife, teacher, friend or daughter. I have a wicked temper and probably drink a tad too much during the summer. My life is not Pinterest-perfect or always a Facebook fairytale…I’m terrible at crafts and photography. But I’m not going to snark about someone else enjoying that kind of thing because in my belief system, we are all created with strengths and weaknesses so that we can form a better community. My best-friend is the worlds best crafter and cake ball maker – her kids’ parties are the kind that you see on Pinterest. But do I drag her down for that? Of course not! I use her strengths to help me plan my daughter’s party and in return I help her navigate the public school system because that’s my strength.

      I don’t know. I guess I’ve just been a little disappointed in the negative tone of the articles lately.

    • Blueathena623

      August 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      🙁 don’t go.
      Some of us *cough cough* are just jealous because we wish we could do this stuff but we don’t have the money. And probably donr have the talent. So we project and feel judged and are snarky.
      (Not that I can’t cute up my kid’s food, but I know for a fact that some of the lunch containers shown are obscenely expensive, and all those cookie cutters, wow! But also I’m all thumbs and would probably end up cutting off a thumb trying to do that stuff.)
      If we don’t point any more avocados at you will you stay?

    • LiteBrite

      August 2, 2013 at 7:13 am

      First of all, don’t go! Please?

      Second, when you look at your posts, do you have an edit button? I’m not trying to be snarky – I’m not sure how Disqus looks for every user – but I know when I look at a post I see “Reply”, “Share”, and “Edit.” All you need to do is click on “edit” and it will bring up the box you just wrote in, allowing you to edit or add in more content. You should be able to do that since you are a Disqus user (i.e. you log in).

    • Justme

      August 2, 2013 at 7:18 am

      I think something went wonky with Disqus because my post up there was from my phone (or iPad, I don’t remember which) and my profile pic didn’t show. Then when I came back to edit, the “edit” button was not an option, only “reply” or “share.” Weird.

  19. mkcookin

    August 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm


  20. AlexMMR

    August 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    My SIL has a bento blog. Makes shopping for her pretty easy as I just get new food designing gadgets and call it good. But I certainly have no desire to be creative every day with that kind of thing.

  21. LET

    August 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I guess I’m lame cause I can’t wait to make these for my kid when he’s in kindergarten. Maybe it’s cause I’m Italian, so, basically food=love. I’m definitely not anywhere near supermom, it just seems fun.

    • jsterling93

      August 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Right there with you. Of course even with everything I need to do I still try to find time to make lunch for my husband sometimes and include a surprise. I also let him make his own most of the time. I’m Italian as well and I know what you mean about the food=love.

  22. Tara

    August 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Good grief. And I count it as a good-mom day if I actually remember to feed my kids lunch that day…

  23. Chrystal Curci

    August 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    some of these just look downright dangerous to me. who gives their toddler aluminum foil or little plastic toys to make grape rings with? I don’t know about you, but my toddlers just grab and eat anything that fits in their mouths at meal/snack time.

    • koolchicken

      August 2, 2013 at 1:03 am

      The foil bento was for a boy of about 4. Same goes for the grape “rings”. These were posted under the guise of “toddler lunches” and some may well be. But for the most part they are for kids in elementary school or older. In fact many bento bloggers are adults posting photos of their own lunches. So lets be honest if a 3rd grader or even an adult can’t figure out not to eat plastic there’s probably something wrong.

      There are just so many things wrong with this post. The misleading title is just one of them. 🙁

  24. koolchicken

    August 1, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I’ve been reading the comments here and I think people are missing what a bento actually is. They go back hundreds of years, they are part of a culture. They’re the norm overseas as well as here in HI, you can get one at any minimart and the boxes and accessories are easy to come by.

    Many Mums here in the US have latched on to them to make meals times more fun for kids with allergies and celiac disease. Maybe your kid can’t have a cupcake during the Valentine’s day party at school, but at least they can have heart shaped veggies. Get it? Most of these food bloggers posting pic’s of their kids lunches openly state the “fancy” meals are for special occasions only. Others like Biggie (the one with the foil) only pack leftovers. So it might look like a lot of time goes into them but it doesn’t.

    As for food waste, it really doesn’t happen in Japan. If a child doesn’t finish their meal they aren’t allowed to throw out the leftovers. The teacher makes sure the child eats everything they can. If they can’t or won’t finish their food it’s taken back home so the parent can see what’s being left. Perhaps it’s too much food, maybe the child doesn’t like something. Either way it’s going to get addressed. Unlike here where the parent never knows if the kid is eating or not and money is just being tossed everyday.

    I know someone mentioned giving kids a skewer with a toy on the end seemed like a bad idea. Or that glass containers are a mistake. Well, only in the US would that be used as a weapon or played with. Kids in Japan are supervised throughout the meal. Meal time isn’t for playing, it’s for eating and the adults make sure they do.

    • Katie L.

      August 1, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      I don’t think sending glass with Kindergartens is mistake because it could be a weapon, but because they’re five. When a glass container breaks in the cafeteria it means a big clean up and keeping other kids away from broken glass. I’ve also seen them break in the big lunch bins and get other kids lunches covered in glass/whatever is in the jar. Parents don’t always think about that kind of stuff despite the fact that I say “No glass containers” every year.

      I understand your point about a cultural difference. If someone makes these for their kids, more power to them. But as someone with Celiac disease, veggies are not the same as a cupcake no matter what shape you cut them into.

    • koolchicken

      August 2, 2013 at 12:55 am

      Well pyrex rarely breaks. Obviously it’s not impossible, it is glass. But it usually takes force or a complete freak accident. I guess it’s a good thing bento boxes aren’t glass, they are metal, plastic, or wood most of the time. Yes you can use a glass dish for a bento, but it’s not exactly traditional.

      I should point out that I too have celiac disease. I will agree that fun shaped veggie don’t take the place of a cupcake, but they don’t hurt. GF baked goods have come a long way but they’re still not perfect. As a kid I would have preferred to have a pretty lunch and no treat as opposed to a rock hard, weird tasting/feeling cupcake or crumbled cookie.

    • Véronique Houde

      August 2, 2013 at 8:05 am

      It’s funny because, when I was 6 years old and in first grade, I lived in good ol’ New Jersey, and I CLEARLY remember the misery of having to finish my lunch because the lunch ladies checked our bags and boxes for leftover food every day before we could go out and play. I clearly remember the day when my mom gave me a *ugh* cheese sandwich and I gagged my way through it before figuring out how to bunch it into the aluminium foil and sneak it creatively to the bottom of my trash because i just couldn’t eat it.

      Do they not check lunch boxes anymore? GEEZ. What is wrong with our world? It’s like our generation forgot that they didn’t get killed by good, common sense parenting at school.

    • footnotegirl

      August 3, 2013 at 12:57 am

      Who has time to check lunch boxes? The average time for a kid to eat lunch in school these days is under 30 minutes, and that INCLUDES getting to the lunch room, getting through the lunch line, cleaning up, and hitting the bathroom before class. Most kids have less than 17 minutes to actually eat.

    • Véronique Houde

      August 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      actually, what they did is that they stood next to the garbage can that we had to pass by while going out to the recess to play. We had to throw our stuff away and so when we went to throw away our garbage, they just opened our lunch box to see if everything was eaten, and they would check what we threw away. It took 5 seconds max. Doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal, really. And usually, lunch breaks are an hour. if they’re any shorter, perhaps the PTA needs to get involved because that’s just ridiculous.

    • footnotegirl

      August 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      HA HA HA lunch breaks an hour? You must not have any children or know anyone with any children.

    • Véronique Houde

      August 3, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Well, i guess it’s another reason that americans suck ;). If you say you do I guess you do!!

    • koolchicken

      August 5, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      I just saw this. I went to high school in Boston during that time period. I would have loved to have 26.7 minutes to eat lunch. Sadly it was more like 20, but by the time you got to the cafeteria it was closer to 15. If you got in line for lunch you were eating on the way to your next class since you were out of time to sit- not that there were enough tables…

    • technicolorpachyderms

      August 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      Thank you! I can’t believe some of these comments.

  25. MoD

    August 1, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    So I think these lunches are really cute. If a Mom or Dad has time to make them, great! I wouldn’t hold it against anyone that is trying to make their kid feel special. When I was a kid, it was a treat when our Mom would make us a special bag lunch. She wasn’t photographing it, but you know. She didn’t have a lot of time but she’s a good cook.

    I hope that I can do something a bit like this when my baby is old enough to be going to school. My husband is Japanese and grew up with his mother preparing great bento lunches for him. I’m sure my husband will also be putting an equal amount of time into preparing lunches (we both work so we shoot for equal time spent on the kid…)

    When we visit his mom in Japan, meals are super varied and there’s usually anywhere from 6 to 10 different dishes on the table and there’s also a presentation factor – using pretty dishes and cutting vegetables in attractive ways, etc. You eat a little bit of a lot of different things. Meals are definitely different there than in the US, where we usually just have a protein, veggie, and starch. Or at least that’s how I grew up.

  26. DMH

    August 1, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Bless the parents that have the time/energy to do this at the end of the day, because I certainly don’t. I’m just glad to know I give my son good meals, even if they don’t have egg molds and Chewbacca sandwiches 🙁

  27. Ptownsteveschick

    August 2, 2013 at 12:04 am

    I appreciate the mothers who take the time to do this, and feel that it is necessary or fun. I just have a different take on food. Food isn’t supposed to be a game, and it doesn’t need to be cute or special. It does need to be balanced and give you the energy you need to get through the day and for kids to grow. Putting any other significance into it, such as “pretty lunches=love food=love” etc makes me uncomfortable because of the emotional significance it puts into food. I want my daughter to learn to eat things that are good for her because they taste good and make her body feel good, not because they look special. I have plenty of other ways of letting her know she is loved.
    I also don’t agree with trying to get a kid to keep eating once they want to be done. They might be hungry later, but they will remember that next time they stop eating too soon, or they might be actually listening to their bodies and eating only what they need to be satiated which is the point of food. So if they are throwing half their lunch away, or even saving some for later I say more power to them.

    • Simone

      August 2, 2013 at 7:00 am

      Yeah, I kind of agree with this. Does food really need to be a game? Do I need to send the message that I was happy to spend forty minutes making a lunch and some more time photographing it to demonstrate my insanity? If I did all this and then my life reached the point where I would rather sleep an extra half hour or read a book or something instead of make a perfect weird lunch, would my child then feel unloved at eating normal looking food? It’s a bit obsessive. It’s food. Eight hours later it’s shit. It doesn’t need to look that amazing.

    • Véronique Houde

      August 2, 2013 at 8:08 am

      I don’t really think it would take 40 minutes to use a cookie-cutter on a sandwich and a few pieces of cheese actually… I mean, you just punch them through and then dump them into the different sections of the box… Most of these are primary ingredients that don’t really need much prep time anyway, apart from washing. Perhaps it takes an extra 3 minutes to just shape them? I don’t know… if it puts a smile on my kids face, and makes eating veggies a bit more fun until they get used to the taste, I can see the appeal. I just wouldn’t want my kid to expect their food to always be shaped like the cookie monster every day, you know? Perhaps it would be a friday special thing…

    • jsterling93

      August 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Yeah and some of the prep can be done way ahead of time. On sundays I do the prep for a lot of our meals and the lunches my husband and I take to work. The baby is only 3 months old but when he is older I’ll do something like this. I mean you cut up cheese punch out shapes and store them in a ziplock for a few days. The bits let over can easily be tossed in to scrambled eggs or cheese sauces.

      Plus these are pics with no stories. We don’t know why the mom’s made the lunches fancy. For all we know it is a birthday lunch or something.

  28. lea

    August 2, 2013 at 2:04 am

    But, but, but the sweet things are touching the savoury things!!! It’s just not right.

  29. That_Darn_Kat

    August 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

    These are cute. The ones that are simply cookie cutter shapes I could totally see myself doing. I *personally* wouldn’t do anything too extensive, but I love to look at pictures of other peoples boxes. I will say, I would love a set of Bento type boxes to pack my husbands lunch in, but haven’t found one that won’t kill my wallet.

    Now, if my (extremely, insanely) picky son would eat more fruit and veggies if they were in cool shapes, I would totally do this every day. Other wise, I’d probably just do this as a Friday treat, or on a holiday.

  30. G.E. Phillips

    August 2, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I will say that when I bought the $2 dinosaur-shaped sandwich cutter from the Target dollar bin, I did a little jig and went on Facebook to proclaim myself as the BEST MOTHER EVER because now my kid could eat SANDWICHES shaped like DINOSAURS!!!!

    That was before I had heard of Pinterest. And then I was like….”Oh. Never mind.”

  31. Courtney Lynn

    August 2, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I’m somewhere in between those moms who just cut up some cheese and fruit and one of the moms above. Being a SAHM now, I have more time. We’re on a budget so I don’t have much choice but to make a LOT of things from scratch, sometimes even our bread just to stretch that penny some more (I mixture makes 3 loaves that I can freeze, bang for our buck!). I do enjoy giving my family the best I have and I would never make another mother feel bad for not being able to do the same. I think most of us do what we believe is best for our kids. And I usually am in my home clothes, stretch pants and tank tops!

  32. Momma425

    August 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    These are fancy- awesome job moms!!! Koa, My lunches look like yours- no fancy shapes and grape rings. 🙁 I applaud moms who have the time and energy to do things like this!

  33. kmeghan

    August 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    The second I forgot and threw some of those cutesy little things away, my mother would ring my neck 🙂 Kids don’t care about stuff like that. If they have their favorite fruit, sandwich cut with a cookie cutter and a cookie, they’ll do fine 🙂 and I really don’t like toddlers chewing on drumsticks….big safety concern for me.

  34. wmdkitty

    August 5, 2013 at 1:42 am

    Bento! *grabby-paws*

  35. Chelc

    August 8, 2013 at 10:00 am

    #13 is cookie monster. (; So much cuter

  36. Tanya Engesser

    August 11, 2013 at 2:04 am

    lovely works of art. more power to the moms who have the time and patience to do this
    all I can think of is, these kids must be from one-child families.
    I thought I was doing good when I got up and made pancakes every day

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  40. md_wood

    October 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    #13 is Cookie Monster, not Elmo…how dare you.

  41. brebay

    December 31, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Holy crap, and I thought the first lunch was fancy!

  42. Phùng Nguyên Anh

    June 23, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I love those lunch ideas with rice. We are Asian so I would love to pack rice for my toddler. But one thing worries me a bit is that our preschool does not have microwave. I keep an ice pack inside my daughter’s lunch bag. Will the rice still be fresh/edible and SAFE by the time my daughter eats lunch in school?

  43. Kimberly

    September 15, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    WTF are the things in #4 that look like squidgy limes? Oh gawd they make me sick looking at them….

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