Packing a lunch for your kids is no small feat, especially when there’s hair to brush, breakfast to make and permission slips to sign.
That’s why we’re crazy impressed with these dads who go the extra mile (okay, more like an extra 50 miles) to create lunches their kids will never forget—from an apple that looks like Kermit the Frog to a sandwich bag with a grinning monster sketched on the front.
Bonus: The silly presentation sometimes encourages their kids to try new foods. Broccoli on a plate? Blah. Broccoli as hair? Bingo!
Beau Coffron of blog Lunchbox Dad started making creative meals for his daughter right when she started kindergarten. “I wanted to let her know that I was thinking about her and love her when she is gone,” he tells PEOPLE. Now 7, she still loves what they call “Fun Lunch Monday.”
Chewbacca—actually a sandwich on a bed of blackberries—and a Finding Nemo landscape (sweet potato Nemo; cheese starfish on seashell pasta) have been two of his favorites, while his daughter was smitten with the My Little Pony made from mango.
You’ll find full recipes in Coffron’s book, Adventures in Lunchboxing. Or if creating your own designs, he recommends planning ahead—”I usually think about my lunches for a few days before I make them”—and getting ideas simply from watching your kids. “I pay attention to what they’re playing with, reading and watching,” he says. “This has really helped bring us closer together.”
Coffron also includes a sweet note in each lunch—something that’s meaningful with or without an artsy sandwich to back it up.
Sandwich Bag Dad
For nearly six years, dad David Laferriere has been sketching animals, monsters and all sorts of silly creatures on sandwich bags, which he then ships off to school with his now 14- and 16-year-old boys.
“I had tried to draw directly on the bread with food coloring,” he tells PEOPLE. “The results were terrible. I saw a Sharpie maker on the kitchen counter and figured I’d try drawing on the sandwich bag.” The rest is history, captured on his Flickr page.
Replicating Laferriere’s work would be tough—he’s a Rhode Island School of Design grad with a BFA in illustration—but anyone with a few markers can draw a simple smiley face, heart or star on a sandwich bag. If you’re really artistically challenged, get a set of stencils.
For the record, Laferriere’s kids won’t admit to having a favorite drawing, but they definitely have favorite sandwiches: His oldest prefers turkey or ham with cheese and the youngest likes peanut butter and jelly.
Funky Lunch Dad
Now a British company that caters parties and does food art workshops in school, Funky Lunch started in 2009 with a dad who wanted to get his 7-year-old son to eat tomatoes.
“I made a SpongeBob Squarepants sandwich with a tomato for a tie. Oscar didn’t want to eat it but I said if he didn’t he couldn’t eat the rest, so he did and now he eats tomatoes,” dad Mark Northeast told the Daily Mail.
Since then, he’s created sandwiches that look like the Muppets’ Swedish Chef, avocados dressed up as sailboats, mini potato people and much more.
Inspired? Check out Funky Lunch’s Facebook page for dozens of ideas that are almost too cute to eat.