Tips to Making School Lunch Weelicious from Catherine McCord

09/24/2010 at 10:00 AM ET
Gabriel Goldberg

Coming up with new and exciting school lunch ideas can be stressful, especially when you’re already juggling your family’s busy schedule. That’s why we decided to tap Weelicious creator Catherine McCord for her top tips and tricks to create lunches that no kid would think of trading at the lunch table. Check them out:

Liven things up. If your kid’s lunch has visual appeal, better the chances his lunch box will come home empty. Remember, we don’t only eat with our mouths, but also with our eyes. If food is colorful, bright and exciting, it becomes much more enticing for little ones. Fruits and veggies are a great place to start adding the fun.

Try new shapes. Tired of fixing the same old white bread PB&J everyday? Before that sandwich goes in the lunch box, try putting it in a panini press or using a cookie cutter to cut it into a cool shape. Use a melon baller to treat your kid to bite-size balls of fruit. By changing the shape or form of fruits, vegetables, sandwiches and other staples, it keeps the visual interest exciting and your kids engaged with their food.

Take a dip. The more you can make lunch time another form of play time, the better. When you put a dip or sauce on the side for kids to use, those raw veggies that used to sit untouched in your child’s lunch box will disappear in no time.

Ideas: Apples with peanut butter (sunflower butter is a great substitute for nut-free schools), baby carrots with a yogurt dip, chicken with BBQ Sauce, even pancakes or waffles with a fruit puree. Dips and sauces are a fun way to get kids involved with what they’re eating.

Experiment with veggies. When it comes to vegetables, many moms consider their kids to be picky eaters. But don’t give up just because your little one turns her nose up at broccoli. Sometimes all it takes is varying the way you prepare vegetables to change the way they look at them.

Instead of steaming cauliflower, try roasting some with lemon; give steamed carrots a sprinkle of mixed herb seasoning; experiment baking greens such kale for a crispy, potato chip-like effect or add some grilled zucchini to a quesadilla. They’re all great ways to introduce (or reintroduce) kids to foods they may be reluctant to try. I find a change in preparation can alter a vegetables flavor in a way that may surprise your kids (and you!).

Go for a natural sweet. After you pack a healthy lunch box, don’t forget a little treat for your wee one. It doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar or additives to be sweet and delicious. Whether you pour granola or rice crispies on yogurt, bake peanut butter oatmeal cookies or simply put a cute sticker or note for your child inside their lunch box, the smallest touch goes a long way and let’s your child know you’re thinking about him!

Want more of Catherine’s easy-to-follow and kid-friendly tips and recipes? Go to or check out her daily Tweets (@Weelicious).

Also, below we have an exclusive video where Catherine β€” and her super cute daughter β€” show you how to make yummy strawberry pops.

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Showing 22 comments

ForeverMoore on

Love the weelicious website! I can’t wait to make some of the baby food recipes, once my son is on solids.

megan on

I realize it’s just a photo shoot, but a kid with their bottom & dirty feet in the counter just grosses me out. That’s a no-no here.

Doreen on

These tips are amazing! I love seeing the lunchboxes she posts on Twitter.

Bri on

@ Megan Relax a little… I’m sure that the photographers just wanted to show that no matter how hectic it is having 2 kids you can still get things done and cook wonderful meals! And have them cook with you! You don’t let your kids sit on the counter and help you ??.. (supervised of course) hmmm…

Noelle on

Weelicious is a savior for me each and everyday. Catherine makes meal times a breeze. πŸ™‚

EJ on

I’m not a kid, but I’d love to try those pops! She’s got some really great ideas.

Megan on

“You don’t let your kids sit on the counter and help you ??.. (supervised of course) hmmm…”

They can cook with us & help out, but no, we don’t allow bottoms and feet on the counters.

mommytoane on

LOL I figure antibacterial wipes were made for a reason. Don’t like those, try vinegar.
Video was super cute tho! I’ve found a lot of inspiring ideas, that even at almost 8 my daughter loves. Awesome website, awesome video. πŸ™‚

Sidney on

We’ve made your recipe before. Easy and tasty!!

Thanks Catherine, for not touching your hair…THAT is what grosses me out!

Catherine on

Come on guys, it was supposed to be a fun photo op! Have a laugh at the THOUGHT of a kid on the counter πŸ™‚

Jenna on

Weelicious is one of the things I’ve not hidden in my FB feed. She’s great, fun to watch and quick. Her webisodes are quick 3-5 minute how to’s. Don’t know where I would be without banana bites!!

Michelle on

You are awesome, sister! You have definitely helped me in feeding my boys more healthy nibble and you inspire me with your business!

Paige on

I am so impressed by all of the wonderful ideas Catherine shares us on weelicious. Her recipes are delicious AND fun AND easy to make which are really important when you are a mom getting your kids involved in cooking. I can’t wait until my daughter starts eating solids- I already have the purees bookmarked!

raleigh on

I LOVE this website! Thank you for showing Catherine and her cute kids. When can I buy a Weelicious book?

Cathy Hill on

Weelicious is a terrific resource for my grown children, who are now preparing lunchboxes for their kids. I wish we had tips like these when my kids were little. Catherine really knows her stuff.

Alex on

Weelicious, not just for kids! Great web-site. The recipes are great, super easy and super tasty! When is the Weelicious book coming out???

Camille on

My boyfriend’s kids love the recipes I get from Weelicious! What’s great is, my boyfriend and I love them, too!

Alina on

I loved weelicious!!!! The recipes are healthy and tips are so helpful!

Naomi on

Catherine’s site is amazing…I love that there’s always something new to try and the videos are adorable. Going to do the popsicles tonight for tomorrow…it’s supposed to be another hot day!

Abby on

hands down the best resource for feeding your kid delicious and healthy food. i check it out everyday, cook from it all the time, and my daughter has literally adored everything i’ve ever cooked off of the site – thank you weelicious!

Jenny on

I LOVE weelicious for my family. Catherine’s recipes make my hectic life so much easier because she thinks of all the great ideas I don’t have time for because I am a full-time working mom with two kids under the age of three!

Jon on

This is a terrific website. We make Catherine’s recipes for our kids all the time and they love them, but I think I eat even more than they do!!!!