'Lunch box influencers' are sharing their tips for how to pack awe-inspiring lunches that kids will actually want to eat

A green lunch box with compartments holding cut strawberries, a thermos insert holding noodles, and other snacks, next to lunch box inserts holding rice and vegetables and bread shaped like letters.
Jessica Woo; Rossini Perez

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  • Turn packing school lunches into an art with these adorable bento box ideas.
  • An elephant food pick or edible stars will make your student smile and give you a chance to get creative.
  • We talked to three bento lunch box influencers to find the best tools you can use for lunch box creations.

If you're on the parenting side of social media, you've likely come across bento box lunches. There are hundreds of videos and pictures of artfully packed school lunches, sometimes in traditional bento boxes. These expert lunch-packers use carrot sticks, PB&J's, and fruit slices to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and any other day of the school year. 

We scoured social media to find three lunch box influencers and asked them how they make such legendary lunches. With the help of Rossini Perez (@TinaTakesLunch on TikTok and Instagram), Jessica Woo (@sulheejessica on TikTok and Instagram), and Gabriella Barba (@gabriellamariposa on TikTok and Instagram), we rounded up 16 items that you can use to make insta-worthy school lunches.   

If you don't have time for something elaborate, stick a few food picks into apple slices or cut a sandwich into the shape of a heart. The best part about these tools is that you can use as many or as few as you'd like.

Every great lunch box artist needs a (dishwasher-safe) canvas

A side by side collage showing a lunch box with snacks and a sandwich cut into the shape of a "100" on the left and a blue lunch box with five compartments and a sandwich cut into the shape of a video game controller on the right
Rossini Perez; Gabriella Barba

All three of our lunchbox maestros say Bengto lunch boxes on their lists of must-haves. The multitude of materials, compartments, and colors make these lunch boxes perfect for the practical and aesthetic parts of lunch. 

Perez likes the stainless steel for older children because it holds 4 cups of food and has a removable silicone container to split one compartment into two. Barba and Woo go with the Bentgo Fresh. With the three-pack, Woo likes to prep a few days' worths of lunches.

Cut off the crusts to make an artistic statement

A side by side collage of a stainless steel lunch box with strawberries, M&M's, and a cheese sandwich cut into the shape of a dinosaur on the left and a next to a lunch box with cheese cut spelling out "Mom" and flower shaped watermelon pieces on the right
Rossini Perez; Jessica Woo

A collection of cookie cutters in a variety of shapes and sizes are essential to lunch box art. Turn a turkey and cheese sandwich into a dinosaur — no crusts, of course. If the bread doesn't seem big enough to cut, Perez suggests flattening it out to make it easier to cut a clean shape.

You can use cutters for more than just sandwiches. There are no mere fruit slices in Barba's lunch boxes. She turns pineapple slices into stars and honeydew wedges into hearts. 

Keep treats separate with colorful cupcake liners

A side by side collage of a lunch box with a bagel sandwich cut to look like a sun, crinkle cut carrots, and clementine pieces on the left and a lunch box inserts with a salad, peppers with spooky faces drawn on, and cookie that look like bat wings on the right.
Gabriella Barba; Jessica Woo

If your kid doesn't like food to touch or you just need a few more compartments, silicone liners are the perfect solution. "Silicone baking cups are wonderful containers for sectioning different snacks," said Woo. Plus, you can repurpose them for future baking projects.

Barba notes that she loves silicone containers for the pop of color and how they make cleanup easier. Not all sets are dishwasher safe, so check the manufacturer's instructions before washing. Either way, liners are cute, reusable, and easy to clean. 

Incorporate fun utensils like character-themed toothpicks

A side by side collage of a lunch box with a heart shaped sandwich, heart shaped fruit cut outs, and carrot sticks on the left and three containers of sushi rolls and cut up honeydew with cartoon character animal food picks on the right.
Gabriella Barba; Jessica Woo

Elementary school can feel like a zoo sometimes, so why not add giraffes and pandas to the mix? Like cocktail picks but for kids, food picks are an easy and quick way to make a lunch box more exciting. Food picks keep little hands clean and create individual portions, perfect for kids who take small bites or want to share their snacks with friends.

Woo's favorite toothpicks for decorating meals come in a set along with themed vegetable cutters and fruit stamps.

Add a smile to every vegetable's face with edible markers

A side by side collage of a lunch box inserts holding hard boiled eggs with faces drawn on them and chocolate dipped strawberries with faces drawn on it on the left and a lunch box holding a sandwich with a treasure map drawn on it and other snacks on the right.
Jessica Woo; Gabriella Barba

While you can include elaborately iced cookies for dessert, frosting doesn't go so well with carrot sticks. What adds to the excitement is a fun illustration. "I think one of the best purchases you can get is edible ink markers; these allow you to create and add designs to sandwiches, wraps, and so much more," said Barba. These markers are made with food-safe ingredients. They're like food coloring bottles with more precise application.  

Keep soups and rice warm with a thermos

A side by side collage of a thermos lunch bowl with soup and rice shaped like Pikachu on the left and a green lunch box with a thermos insert holding noodle soup, a few Oreos, cut up strawberries, and more on the right.
Jessica Woo; Rossini Perez

Most likely, your creations are going to sit in a backpack for a few hours before lunchtime. An insulated thermos can save vegetables from wilting and soup from going cold. Especially during the cooler months, Woo uses insulated containers for rice and soup. 

When she needs more insulation, Perez uses the OmieBox lunch box with a removable thermos insert. "Warm up the insert with boiling water for five minutes before inserting hot foods — this way it ensures food will be warmer for longer," she recommends. 

Use tiny tweezers and precise tools to master the details

A side by side collage of lunch box inserts holding rice shaped like a bear and other snacks on the left and lunch box inserts holding rice and vegetables shaped like Olaf from Frozen and other snacks on the right.
Jessica Woo; Jessica Woo

If you're going for the gold medal of lunch making, it's all in the details. Lunch art is on a small scale, so you'll need some precision tools. Woo relies on a set of food tweezers to make detailed characters and themed lunches. Sharp paring knives will also make cutting and slicing small ingredients infinitely easier.  

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