Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters
Packing delicious lunches for kids every day of the school year is hard—and it’s even harder when you’ve got a picky eater on your hands. How can you ensure that your child gets the fuel they need to rock their day and not bring home a still-full lunchbox? We have some school lunch ideas for picky eaters that should do the trick during the school year and beyond.
First Thing’s First: Figure Out What Your Kid Likes to Eat
Before the fun (but hectic) start of the school year, you should chat with your child about the foods they love to see in their lunch. Try creating a list of the foods you know they like and add some others to the list that are similar. Ask your child if they would be willing to try out the similar foods. With any luck, they’ll enjoy the new foods and help you create a better variety of lunches throughout their year.
But maybe your picky eater needs a little convincing to try the new things on your list. You could try creating a “new foods” chart for them to fill in: every time they try a new food, they can check it off the list, or perhaps cross it off if they didn’t like it. After they’ve tried a certain number of foods, give them a small reward for being brave and branching out!
To help, you can save a copy of this chart and print it out to use with your child as a picky eater checklist. Simply write the new food your child tried in the box and have them color in the square. Use red if they didn’t like the food, green if they did, and yellow if they’re not sure, but would be willing to try again. You can also use stickers of the same color.
Pro Tip: Print this calendar once and laminate it. Color it in using dry erase markers to easily wipe it off and use it again next month!
Get the Right Supplies
To pack lunches with more variety, you’re going to need the right stuff to do it. An insulated lunchbox with a cold pack is key to keeping food cool while it’s sitting in your child’s desk or locker all day.
Rather than using a gazillion throw-away plastic baggies, get reusable containers that can easily be cleaned out at the end of each day. Sectioned off containers are particularly useful for keeping the different parts of their lunch separate, yet all in the same container. Just make sure your child can easily open the containers or packaged items you include. Even if your child loves what’s inside, they can’t enjoy it if they can’t open it!
A lunchbox-sized insulated mug can also be handy for storing hot foods, like soup, or foods that need to stay extra-cool, like yogurt. Make sure to put your child’s name on everything in case they’d accidentally leave a container at school!
Back-to-School Lunchbox Checklist:
Small reusable forks and spoons
Small reusable bottle for water, milk or juice
Easy Lunch Box Ideas for Picky Eaters
Even if your kiddo only likes a few kinds of food in their lunches, there are all sorts of ways to mix and match their options and give them just what they need to make it through the day.
When coming up with picky eater lunch ideas for toddlers, it’s also good to consider how long certain foods will take to eat. Lunch periods don’t last forever, and if your child is a chatterbox, they might not have time to eat all the great things you packed for them. The easier to chew, the better!
This lunchbox staple is sure to please any picky eater! To change up this classic, try adding different nut butters like almond butter or granola butter. If it’s the jelly they aren’t crazy about, try adding a little honey instead. Or, just go for plain ol’ peanut butter.
You can also play with different kinds of bread. For example, you could test out whole grain bread, a bagel or putting their favorite fillings inside a pita pocket. Add some bananas and apples and you have a real pita party!
The easiest, tastiest option of all would be adding an Uncrustables® sandwich to their lunchbox. Simply toss it in with their other favorite sides, like carrot sticks and string cheese, and you have another easy, yummy lunch in the books. Try our Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jam Sandwich for a thaw and eat lunchtime favorite.
Give your kid a little bit of everything they love for lunch! Choose salami, turkey or ham; strawberries, blueberries or apple slices; snap peas or baby carrots; and a slice of flatbread or some crackers. You can also add a few slices or cubes of cheese, or a container of yogurt.
The Sandwich with a Twist
Switch things up with this alternate take on your standard sandwich or wrap. Choose your child’s favorite deli meat and cheese and tuck it into a pita pocket. You could also fold up a soft tortilla so all their favorite items are snugly tucked inside. Aside from deli meats, you could try peanut butter and apple slices or breakfast burrito ingredients like scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon.
To save on prep time, pack Uncrustables Bites for your kiddo! Our Turkey & Colby Jack Bites are made with natural* turkey (*minimally processed, no artificial ingredients) and Colby Jack cheese enclosed in soft bread, and they have 9 grams of protein in every serving. Just like our original Uncrustables sandwiches, they thaw inside your child’s lunchbox and are ready to eat by lunchtime. Pack them alongside a cup of yogurt and strawberries or hummus and celery sticks for a lunch that rocks.
The Soup ‘n’ Side
If your child loves your simple homemade tomato or chicken noodle soup, let them take it with them for lunch! Just pack it in a small insulated mug to keep it warm and pack a slice of flatbread or whole grain crackers for dipping. An orange or other fruit could be a sweet way to finish out the meal.
The Breakfast Club
Who says breakfast foods can only be for breakfast? Eggs, bacon and cheese are excellent (or should we say, “eggs”-ellent) in wraps as breakfast burritos. There are plenty of healthy muffin and quiche recipes that could even help you sneak in some extra vegetables, too. Add an orange, strawberries or a sliced banana as a side, or a hard-boiled egg.
Check Out the Rest of the Lunch-Worthy Products from Uncrustables
There’s so much more to love from Uncrustables that your kids will want them for lunch even after the school year’s over. Even your pickiest eater is sure to smile when they see one waiting for them!