Oh my gosh, is it almost September already? That means back to school is right around the corner! It’s time to stock up on school supplies, a new backpack, new clothes, new shoes… I’m actually kind of excited about all that, but you know what I’m least looking forward to? Trying to pack lunches every day that my picky eaters will eat!
Both of my girls will be in school full-time this September, and I’m a little flustered at the idea of two lunches every day. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this though. With that in mind, I’ve put together some tips to encourage your picky child to actually eat their school lunches.
1. Offer choices
Egg salad or ham and cheese? Carrot sticks or sliced red peppers? Mandarin oranges or grapes? Kids need to feel like they have some control, so offer them real choices. Too many choices can feel overwhelming though, so stick to two lunch options at one time.
2. Shop for lunch supplies together
My kids love going grocery shopping. Sure, it might be a little more work for me, but they love helping me pick out produce, adding groceries to the cart, and putting items on the check out conveyor belt. Not only is this a great opportunity to teach kids about comparison shopping and reading nutrition labels, but when they’re involved in picking out and buying their lunch items, they’re more likely to choose them for their lunch boxes, and then to eat them too.
3. Get them to help make lunch
The same goes with actually making their own lunches. We taught Tee how to make her sandwiches last year, and she loves to take on the responsibility of making her own lunch. She’s so proud of the sandwiches and snacks she makes herself, and she’s correspondingly that much more likely to eat them.
4. Have fun with it
While I’m not up to those fancy Star Wars themed bento lunches I’ve oohed and aahed over on Pinterest, even I can make a little happy face out of pepperoni and a red pepper slice. Use cookie cutters to make fun sandwich and fruit shapes, or pack a snack of mini crackers and cheese. When in doubt, anything mini is fun!
5. Experiment with new lunch foods
When your child won’t eat the usual lunch options, try mixing it up. Maybe skip the boring sandwiches and pack leftovers from last night’s Indian takeout dinner instead. How about breakfast for lunch – my kids will always eat pancakes! Or try bite-sized fruit and veggie pieces on a blunted kebab stick.
6. Include a treat
I want the kids to finish their lunches, and a little treat now and then keeps their lunches fun and interesting. Mott’s Fruitsations + Veggie fruit flavoured snacks are made from pear, apple, and carrot juices from concentrate and strawberry puree. They’re gluten-free and contain no artificial flavours or colours, so they’re a great treat at lunch, after school, or on our way to karate class.
If all else fails, remember that lots of kids are picky eaters, and they and their parents do survive. Keep trying, and take heart in knowing they’ll eventually outgrow their picky eating habits.
What tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve when it comes to encouraging your picky eater to eat their lunch?
Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.