How to Pack School Lunches When You Have Picky Eaters

Today’s episode is full of practical mom advice to help you pack tasty and healthy lunches that your kids will enjoy. Plus, if you’ve ever struggled with your picky eater coming home with an untouched lunchbox, you’ll hear my personal story about how I handled this with my son in the past, and how I handle it now.  

This 5th season of the MOMables Podcast is all about helping our picky eaters try new foods and establishing happier mealtimes.

Topics discussed this episode: 

  • How to pack good lunches when it feels like your kid won’t eat anything.
  • How to create a will-eat list for your child. 
  • What to do when your child comes home from school with a full lunchbox. 
  • Lunch packing tips that will encourage your child to eat… and more!

This episode is brought to you by Happier Plates, my digital course for parents who want to teach their kids healthy eating habits for life. 

Download a free copy of our Mealtime Handbook, the Ultimate Guide to Feeding Happy Kids here.

And if you’re tired of figuring out what to make for dinner, consider becoming a member of the MOMables Meal Plans. With 5 done-for-you recipes, a meal-prep sheet to save you time, and a done-for-you shopping list; you’ll have everything you need to pull off fresh meals every day of the week! Check out the Classic Meal Plan here.

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packing lunches

Need to know how to pack school lunches for picky eaters? This post will walk you through how to make meals your kids will eat and introduce new foods.

Before I started MOMables I used to pack the same three or four lunches for my kids EVERY WEEK. Making their three “safe” school lunches was a lot easier than trying new things (for me, anyway).

What do picky eaters eat?

If you asked me (then) what does your daughter eat? My answer would have been this: She doesn’t eat meat, or broccoli, or rice, or potatoes unless fried, no lettuce, no tomatoes, no peas, no corn, no yogurt, no berries, no bananas, no pears.

But that did not answer the question. My answer was all about the things she didn’t eat.

Like most parents of picky eaters, I was frustrated that she only wanted to eat the same sandwich day in and day out. She only wanted me to pack one of two approved veggies and no fruit –she’s never liked fruit.

How to pack a healthy lunch for a picky eater

First, focus on the positive. It’s easy to get discouraged when we only think about the things our kids will not eat.

First, I created a “will eat list.” A “will eat list” includes items in each food group to pick from.

For example:

Proteins:

Veggies:

  • Carrots
  • Celery

Fruit:

My daughter ate none, but you could try things like…

Carbohydrates:

  • Whole grains (bread, wraps, etc)
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Beans & Legumes

How to use the “will eat list”

It’s really simple to incorporate the items your child will eat into mealtimes when you have a meal plan for the week. With the Classic Meal Plan, you get 5 lunch or dinner recipes, a meal-prep sheet showing you what to prep ahead to save time in the kitchen, and a completed shopping list.

With the meal plan on hand, I would look at any items that needed a simple swap with another approved ingredient. This takes just minutes to do in comparison to coming up with new ideas or searching the internet forever for recipes.

It’s a lot faster to swap ingredients than it is to come up with ideas from scratch. And unfortunately, most people end up making the same meals over and over for their kids because coming up with new ideas can be an exhausting process.

Yes, I’m also speaking of school lunches for picky eaters. The Classic Meal Plan has a lunch plan that is super easy to use alone or in conjunction with dinner.

Anyways, having a list of ingredients or items that your child will eat on hand will incredibly speed up the process.

School Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters

So maybe you have a “will eat” list and the right containers and need school lunch ideas. I’ve got you covered! Watch this video for easy school lunch ideas for picky eaters that often don’t need a recipe. They are simple and easy to swap ingredients for your child’s favorite.

Best Lunch Containers for Picky Eaters

If there’s one thing many parents struggle with is when they open up the lunchbox and much of the food is still there. Which, in fact, it often looks like a mushy mess.

Most of the time we tend to assume that the child didn’t like the food; but could it have been the container instead? Could the items have shifted around to make the food unappealing? This is often the case.

All of our favorite lunch containers help you avoid this. Here are my top lunch container recommendations:

As you can see, there are many different options when it comes to packing lunches. Hopefully, you’ll find one that suits your lunch packing needs best.

Best Thermos Containers for Picky Eater Lunches

“If it was a winner for dinner it’s a winner for lunch!” is what I say to the members of our parent community. From soups, stir-fry dishes, to pasta; nearly everything can be packed inside a thermos container.

There are many thermos containers out there and not all are the same size and hold temperatures the same length. Check out this post for a detailed description of our favorite containers.

I hope some of these ideas were helpful to make school lunches your picky eaters will love. If you struggle with feeding picky eaters, don’t forget to grab your free mealtime handbook here!

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About MOMables - Laura

Mom to 3 awesome people and MOMables CEO. I work hard in my kitchen so you don't have to. I'm obsessed with tacos and coffee -not always in that order.