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How to Pack a Lunch box for a Picky Eater

Picture of a school lunchbox filled with food with the title "How to pack a lunch box for a picky eater"

This post is sponsored by Yumbox- I was given free product in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

How many of you dread planning out your child’s lunch?

Have you ever scanned Pinterest looking for picky eater lunch ideas and you find these glamorous photos of neatly packed pasta salad, sugar snap peas, grapes, and hard-boiled eggs?

I don’t know about you, but those are NOT “picky eater foods” for Allison. If I gave her that for lunch, she would give me a blank look and just not eat. She turns up her nose at any vegetable, macaroni and cheese, any fruit besides strawberries… she’s the epitome of a picky eater, to the extreme.

Picture of items in a lunch box

If you’re in the same boat and have a darling child you just don’t know what to do with for lunch, I’m here for you, friend. I’ll show you how to pack a lunch box for a REAL picky eater. And while it may not be perfect, or always nutritionally balanced, you know she’s getting a full belly.

Create a list of what your child WILL eat

Instead of focusing on what your child won’t eat, write down what she WILL eat. Having a list in front of you will help when it comes to planning lunches.

I tried this exercise as well because I was curious as to what Allison actually eats. Well….

Image of a notebook with a list of foods

Yeah, it’s not much of a list. And I didn’t even add all the desserts she’ll eat, which is basically everything. Maybe yours looks the same way, and that’s okay! You now have something to work with.

My stance is- give them what they like, and throw in something new and healthy every once in awhile and see what sticks. They’ll come around eventually.

Image of a filled school lunch box

Make the lunch with “ingredients”

Now that you know what your child will eat, you can start planning what to put in her lunch. Now in my experience, Allison does a lot better with ingredients rather than foods that are put together. A little of this and a little of that makes a perfect lunch; those are called Bento boxes, and you can find tons of inspiration on Pinterest!

Image of a lunchbox with food picks stuck into strawberries

Since your child is probably very limited on foods, try to make lunch more fun so even the repetitive foods don’t become boring. Food picks can be super fun to stick in strawberries, muffins, and other items. And smaller items like Goldfish can be put into colorful silicone muffin cups.

Image of a filled school lunch box

I’ve been using a Yumbox since the start of the school year and we’re both in love! The divided containers are perfect for your little snackers, and can encourage them to fill each section with a different food group. They also have a super easy-to-open snap in front, which is perfect for my Kindergartner.

Image of a filled school lunch box

And if your kids are more of a sandwich person, the Yumbox Panino has a larger section that fits a sandwich perfectly! I was getting tired of either sticking the sandwich in a plastic bag (wasteful) or cutting the sandwich into small squares to make it fit. Yumbox was kind enough to send me this beautiful Yumbox Panino to try!

What I love about Yumbox is that the clear sections come out so you can wash them easily. Plus each color has different pictures on the bottom so your kids have something pretty to look at when they finish their lunch!

Image of a filled-out school lunch planner

Let your child have a choice

Within reason, letting your child choose what to put in her lunch box can encourage her to make food more fun and even be more willing to try new foods.

You can go about this many ways:

  • Let your child pick out foods at the grocery store
  • Make lunch stations so she can pick and choose from each box (Might be too much effort if you have an only child like I do)
  • Have her plan out meals with you

Either way, giving your child some independence will let her feel more in charge of what she eats.

Image of a girl eating lunch at home

Sometimes, Allison will want to choose what she wants for lunch. On this particular day, she chose two PB&J sliders, some peanuts, string cheese, and a piece of chocolate. It was actually a pretty good start! We did talk about getting a good variety of food, but you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

Don’t sweat the small things

Most importantly, don’t make eating into a battle. I know that’s so hard to do, especially when your child won’t eat the delicious, nutritious meal you lovingly made and placed in front of her.

I may have said, on multiple occasions: “You can’t have a treat until you take a bite of everything on your plate!” And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I was turning meal time into a battle of stress and nerves and it just wasn’t enjoyable.

Image of a filled lunch box

Nowadays, I pretty much give Allison what she likes for breakfast and lunch, making sure some of it is at least a bit nutritious. And dinner time is now no biggie. She gets what we have for dinner, along with a small handful of pretzels or crackers. And the pretzels are usually all she eats! I’m of the opinion that she’ll come around eventually and like what I give her, and at least she’ll try the new foods sometimes.

So, as long as your child is healthy and growing (And check with your doctor on this), don’t stress over her refusal to eat vegetables. It’ll all work out in the end.

Lunch ideas for the picky eater

So, what in the world do you feed your picky eater? I came up with a few ideas below, along with a handy Kids Lunchable cheat sheet to download so your family can mix and match lunches!

What tips do you have for packing lunch for your picky eater? Share in the comments because we need more ideas!

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