As a parent of a couple of picky eaters I’m always struggling to find lunch box ideas that will actually get eaten. The fact is my kids don’t like sandwiches. They never have. When I do send them they usually come back with one bite taken out of the centre and soggy from having sat in a lunchbox all day. The same holds true for thermos meals. While there are a few items I can send in a thermos that may get eaten, most of the time they don’t.
Over the years I have come up with a few ideas that are a smash hit. I have discovered the key to getting picky eaters to eat a lunch is to provide a ton of choice in their lunch box. I know, it may seem obvious, but I had to learn the hard way. Kids love to have options! Both my husband and I are high control personalities and my children are no different. As miniature control freaks in the making they love to pick and choose what they eat and what goes into their lunchbox. Not all of it will get eaten, but at least they have options. What doesn’t get eaten can always be kept for another day or eaten as their after school snack. No more soggy tuna fish sandwiches coming back! These are some options I have discovered that work well with my picky eaters.
My kids love items they can dip, food on a stick, food they can play with, anything taco or pizza flavoured, and anything with cheese! I also find they are more likely to eat foods they have helped make so they will often help me prep freezer foods on a Saturday afternoon so they know what their options are for the week. My kids, for the most part, make their own lunches the evening before as a part of our bedtime routine. That way they know what to expect in their lunch boxes and there are no arguments because they chose what went in there. These are our favourites!
- Diy lunchables provide plenty of choice for the picky eater. Provide an assortment of items like cheese cubes, crackers, sandwich meat (or cut up pieces of last nights roast for cold cuts) fruit and veggies with dip, or anything you can think of that you know your child loves. No need to buy expensive ready to go kits. Just fill a bento box with your own healthy options!
- Kids love anything smothered in cheese. Quesadillas are great for this. The wrap doesn’t get soggy like bread does if it happens to come back at the end of the day. I usually make a bunch on the weekend and toss them in the freezer. In the morning I quickly warm them, wrap them in tin foil and toss them in the lunchboxes. Send along some salsa and sour cream if your kids love to dip.
- Meat pockets are another great option to replace a sandwich. I use a pizza dough folded over calzone style and stuff the centre with taco, farmer sausage or pizza flavours. They can be eaten cold or warm. Like the Quesadillas I usually make a big batch on the weekend and toss them in the freezer so they are handy to pull out on weekday mornings. They are also great for dipping in salsa for the taco flavour or sweet and sour sauce for the farmer sausage ones.
- Pigs in a blanket are a classic but easy snack item and easy to send along to school. My youngest loves hotdogs, sausages and smokies and this is an easy way to send one along in her lunchbox. Buns can get really soggy by the time the lunch bell rings and nobody likes soggy bread. Using a wiener wrap or biscuit dough solves that problem. Roll them with bacon and cheese alongside the wiener for an extra tasty treat! Ketchup, mustard, queso or cheese whiz can be sent along for dip. Like the previous two items these can be made ahead of time and put in the freezer for rushed weekday mornings.
- Anything on a stick is always fun. Similar to a DIY lunchable, chunks of meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables are quick and easy to prepare the night before. Instead of putting them in a bento box, slide them on a toothpick or skewer. They can be stored in the fridge and ready to go for lunchbox prep the next morning.
- Pizza flavours are always a hit in my family. They never come home so pizza buns are good option. Simply spread pizza sauce, and place your favourite pizza toppings and a slice of cheese on an english muffin. Toast until the cheese is melted and wrap them in tinfoil. Again these can be made ahead of time and placed in the freezer. If your kids have a microwave available to them at school they can be warmed there.