Lunch Doodles


Wow!  Last week on Facebook, I posted some of the napkin doodles I do for Myla’s lunches, and it got so many positive comments!  So I thought I’d share some other lunchtime doodles with you.

But first, let me go back a bit….

For some reason, when I was pregnant (and then later when our daughter was a baby), I was obsessed with the idea of bento box lunches.  I don’t know why–but I thought they looked like so much fun!  How exciting to be able to be creative with your kid’s food, to have them open up their lunch to a nice little creative box of sunshine!  But sometimes as a new parent, the things you THINK you’ll do and the things that actually WORK for you are two very different things….


For example, one of the first times I made a school lunch for her, I put together a super-sweet, super cool bento box (a frog that I had gotten when she was still a baby and had no use for it)…a fancy fru-fru one, just like I had seen on Pinterest, with all her favorite foods in it:


And you know what?  She only ate the grapes.

Seriously?!?  I asked her why not the rice–she loves rice!  She said, “Yeah, but not at school.”  Okayyyyyy.  And the bottom compartment hadn’t even been opened!  And it was then that I learned another lesson:  If you’re going to use fancy bento boxes, be sure to SHOW THEM HOW TO USE THEM first. Hehehe.

So, yeah.  Bento boxes, as cool and amazingly creative as they are, just don’t work for us.  I really wish they did.  Not to mention the fact that she’s developed a super-picky kid palate and I’m lucky if I can get her to eat a PB&J.  (Seriously have you SEEN some of those bento boxes?!?  As beautiful as they are, I often think, “do those kids actually EAT that?!?!?  Our kid won’t eat ANYTHING!)

When we were kids, my mom used to leave little notes in my lunch, and I have VERY good memories of them.  …Okay, honestly I can’t remember what a single one said, but I definitely remember the smiles and warm fuzzies they gave me (thanks, Mom!).  It was like a little reminder that even if you were having a rough day, there was SOMEONE on your side.  Even after I got “too old” for them, I still couldn’t open a lunchbox without thinking of them and secretly hoping a little note was tucked in there.

I mean, uh–NO!  Teenage Me was waaaayyyy too mature for that.  Ahem.  🙂

So when our daughter started full day Pre-K last year, I wanted to leave her something sweet in her lunch, too, to let her know I was thinking of her.  She’s an only child–and a very social one–so she ENJOYED the idea of going to school and didn’t have a problem leaving at ALL…but a full day away seemed like such a long time!  I just wanted to put a little something in her lunch to remind her that I loved her.  She’s in Pre-K, though–which means she can’t read.  So what better than to doodle on her lunch bags?

Sometimes I kept to a theme.  The first one I did was Star Wars–have I mentioned she loves Star Wars??    Hehe.

star wars

Also inspired by the Lunchbag Dad, I did goofy little monsters and bugs and dinosaurs.  All things that she likes.  As I said, she can’t read, but she does know that hearts mean “love”…so I tried to always put hearts in there somewhere.


Sometimes the doodles would be related to the food inside, like this heart-shaped sandwich (I used a cookie-cutter to cut the bread), and the monster eating the popcorn.  Or from books we’ve read…the “good apple” at the bottom was from a book about teasing called “Bad Apple” that she really loved at the time.


More little monsters, animals, bugs, and critters…



I even used my trusty ol’ Sharpie marker on some reusable plastic containers…


I often visit her at lunch (which she loves), and for her birthday, I decorated her bags with little birthday alien monsters:

birthday monsters

But as fun as they were, after awhile I started feeling a little guilty for using all the disposable ziploc bags…So I decided to make some reusable lunch bags, and drew on them with Sharpies.  I even did a little blog post about it, ages ago…


So now that our bags are fabric and already have doodles on them, there was no need to really draw on anything anymore….which kind of took the pressure off every day (those doodles don’t take long, but DARN!  Sometimes you just run out of time!), but I also kind of missed them.  So my solution came to me when I visited her at lunch one day and saw all the kids wiping their faces on their sleeves, including my daughter, whose face had become covered in peanut butter and jelly:  Napkins!


No, they’re not reuseable, but hey–one half-napkin a day isn’t too shabby.  I like to doodle little things that pertain to whatever she’s into at the moment.  And if it’s nothing in particular, I just make a goofy monster of some sort.  She gets a kick out of it, and loves showing them to the kids at school at lunchtime.  And from what I can tell, she gets the warm fuzzies from them, too…


Still, even after all of this, she rarely USES the napkins.    I find them in her lunchbox after she’s thrown all the other trash away, when she brings them home nearly untouched….

I mean, who needs a napkin when you have sleeves, right?  🙂

So, yeah.  Pretty pointless, right?  Why go through all the trouble for something that she’s not even using?  Well, simply because it doesn’t take much effort at all, and I know it makes her smile.   …And really, there’s nothing pointless about that, is there?

Some readers on Facebook have shared that their parents used to write notes, draw drawings, use special stickers, or write math problems that needed to be solved when they got home, little “secret messages,” or just smiley faces.  So do you have any good lunchtime memories?  Do you have anything special you do for lunchtime?  I’d love to hear about it!

26 responses

  1. I would make similar lunches for my daughters. The sandwiches would have cookie cutter trimmings, I would leave them notes telling them to have a great day, and that I loved them. I would peel the orange our apple in a circular fashion so that it would come off as a curly cue, and I would draw designs on their paper bags until the plastic bags came out andI decorated them with permanent marker. My girls were always thrilled to boys to know that their lunches were special.

    1. That apple trick’s pretty creative–I might have to try that one!

  2. I wish you were my mom!

    1. Will you do chores? Hm..

  3. We never used ziplocs, but man that would have been crazy time consuming, but great practice, with 2 kids. Your daughter must have kids begging to sit next to her! I used the backs of receipts, up through junior high, and though I know they don’t remember what I wrote or drew, just like you I wanted to let them know I was ‘there’ with them. Never pointless!

    1. Yeah, I’m totally aware that some of the stuff I do I’m ABLE to do because we only have one kid. Any more and all those extras would be overwhelming, I’m sure! Sounds like your kids enjoyed your doodles, too!

      1. I later wrote notes including slang words from different English speaking countries. Maybe more fun for me!

  4. Every Friday I pack a “mystery snack”–attaching a clue that may or may not rhyme. I put it in a small container or a paper sandwich bag, making sure the snack is not revealed. It has been a fun challenge to think about what to give, how to present it, and the clues to write.

    I love reading about all your ideas–I wish I was as gifted as you are in the drawing department! The images you shared would take me much longer than minutes!!!

    1. That’s pretty darned creative!

  5. These are awesome. A new business idea perhaps. I’m 42 and I’d buy them for m lunch lol

    1. Lol! Thankyou! You’d be the “cool kid” at the office! Hehe

  6. I don’t have kids yet, but reading your blog has me taking mental notes for things I want to do when I have little ones. Drawing these every day must get tiring but it’s such a thoughtful touch! I wonder if she doesn’t use them because they’re too wonderful to dirty up with peanut butter. 😉

    1. Daw, thank you! Yep, sometimes I think she thinks I put them in there just as entertainment for lunchtime. 🙂

  7. When I was in high school and too cool for school lunches I would pack my own peanut butter sandwich. My dad always managed to slip something in the bag before I left for school. The somethings were…15 books of matches or 10 plastic wall anchors or multi colors of wire nuts or a handful of nails…you get the idea.

    1. Welll…alrighty! Hm. Hopefully you were responsible with those matches!

  8. Mom put a note in my lunchbox once. It was nice.
    I usually bought school lunch, so there wasn’t much opportunity.

  9. Glad you ditched the ziplock bags! My daughter’s school has a zero waste program: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle is her motto! I get, “mom, I hope you’re not using supermarket plastic bags!”. Boy, they can be pretty obstinate at 6 years old.

  10. Your doodles are so cute and looking at your pictures it obvious your love that goes into the preparation of your kids lunch. There was a guy a few years ago that sent a doodle every day for his kid on his sandwich bags and they showed it on the national news! Not much better PR than that!

    1. Yes! I remember that one–I put a link to him in the post!

  11. Oh my gosh these are so creative! I want to do something memorable like this for my future children.

  12. You have to be the coolest mom ever. 🙂

  13. Love! I’m totally not showing my kids – they’d want a parent swap. I find it hard enough to find food to put in there 🙂

  14. Adoring your doodles! How sweet. This motivates me to share mine as well. ;D

    ❤ Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    A stylist, foodie, & writer's blog in development.

  15. These are amazing! I love how you incorporate your talents and gifts into your everyday life to bless those around you. the only “kid lunchtime” story I remember from when my kids were in school was the day the teacher called me to say she had taken a $10 bill from my son who was trying to buy his neighbor’s twinkie at lunchtime. She would return it to him at the end of the day. I was trying to pack “healthy” lunches for my kids–apples, no twinkies!!–but my son had decided his saved allowance money would be best used for a “real” dessert. From then on, my kids got a “real” dessert in their lunch boxes!

  16. You have inspired me to go draw notes for my kid’s lunches! Thanks. We use a planet box which has magnets you can draw on.

  17. So much love for this. SO much!

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