Do you have a picky eater who brings home their uneaten lunches day after day or even worse, you child comes home hungry and you don't know what or how much they have eaten at school? Here are my favorite 5 tips to pack a lunch picky kids will love.
- Make it colorful by using a variety of colors of the rainbow, fruits and vegetables come in so many colors. Try not to use the same ones over and over, unless your child is really picky; I have one who is. What I do with her is to introduce all the “new” foods and encourage her to try them again and again at breakfast and dinner. The more times she is exposed to a new food, the less “weird” and “icky” it will seem. I also employ “sneaky” methods to get her to eat vegetables. I try to avoid sending a food in her lunchbox that she hasn't already tried, or that I'm not sure if she will like.
Make it easy to eat like wraps that stay together, and avoid things that fall apart. Also, peel the oranges, bananas, pull the grapes off the stems, slice the apples, cut the sandwiches in half, and don't add a lot of slippery items (like pickles and tomatoes) to the inside of a sandwich. Adding in slippery items will make the sandwich slide apart thus hard to hold on to and also can cause the bread to become soggy. If you send meatballs or cut meat and cheese cubes, add a pick so they can “stab it” and eat it. Kids love to stab their food, that's just kids. If they can stab it they are more likely to continue eating it.
- Make lunch cute by using shapes, containers, forks, picks, chopsticks and cute containers. This will encourage them to eat everything in their box. Invest in a few large cookie cutters for your child's sandwiches, my children love to eat things cut into shapes. It doesn't really take much time and I save the edges for another use; with bread edges, I put them in a “French Toast Jumble” or I save them up for making bread crumbs. Cheese leftover pieces can be thrown into mac-n-cheese or chopped up for salads, etc.
- Give it variety. Try not to pack nut butter and jelly every single day, mix it up with some non-sandwich lunches. We enjoy packing meatballs, cubed chicken, skewers with veggies and cheese, wraps, veggie sushi, tacos, burritos, spring roll wraps, dumplings, pockets, pitas, or hummus and veggies for dipping. I like to use fresh veggies and fruits, but I often switch it up with dried fruit or flash dried veggies or dehydrated ones, just make sure your children like these items before you send them to school.
- Ask for their help! My children really like to be part of what is going on and packing lunch is no exception. They like to have input into what goes in their lunches, if I let them, they like to participate in packing. Sometimes I'm in a hurry so I need to get it done quickly, on these days they are on their tiptoes trying to “see what's in it” for the day. It does not have to be complicated. You can always KISS (keep it simple sweetie):
Just remember to have fun with it. Don't get stressed out trying to have a perfect lunch for picky eaters. Focus on what you know they will eat and build on that. I spend less than 15-20 minutes on lunches each morning. All total I make breakfast and lunches for 6 people every day in 30 minutes or less. The key is to keep it as simple as possible. Sometimes I make an adorable bento lunch box with a bunch of cute cutouts and such, but it is rare. My goal is to feed them a well balanced, healthy and nutritious meal that will keep them full until after school snacks. I know there are pictures of more beautiful and intricate looking lunches out there, but I'm not creating a work of art (and kudos to the ones who do, like these) I am just focused on consistently feeding my children a healthy lunch.
Thanks for reading! Don't forget to check out my lunchbox 101, lunchbox 102 and lunchbox 103 posts and some sneaky recipes like the one for my tuna salad. Just don't try this one out on your picky eater. Then subscribe to stay in the loop! You can also find videos of our lunch boxes even the ones my picky eater has given two thumbs up on my YouTube channel, subscribe there and thumbs up the lunches you love!