Thursday, August 25, 2011

Healthy School Lunch Ideas for the Picky Eater

Our son is a picky eater. It would be totally frustrating except I remember that I used to be just like him. Scratch that – I used to be much worse. Back to him – he doesn’t eat any veggies. He doesn’t eat deli meats. He doesn’t eat potato products (except chips). Everything else is a hit or miss depending on his mood for the day.

He just started kindergarten this week and the school he is attending is very, very big on health and wellness and there are certain foods that we cannot send. There is no juice allowed. No chocolate. No processed meats or cheeses. No potato/cheese/corn chips. No cookies, no fast food, no pudding. No squeezable yogurt, applesauce only if “no sugar added” type. Okay – I agree that these aren’t healthy and we’ve got to work within these guidelines.

To find a happy medium that will please both our son and the criteria that our school is laying out, we have had to do some searching in order to find some good lunch options for him. So far, this is what we’ve sent so far this week:

PB&J Sandwich
Goldfish (only original color are ok with the school)
Peach yogurt
Mandarin Oranges

Tomato Soup
Grilled Cheese
Blueberry infused craisins

Blueberry bagel
Whole wheat crackers
Key Lime Yogurt

Chicken Nuggets (white meat)
Cubed Cheddar and Colby Jack Cheese

Other ideas:
Soft taco wraps
Nachos (meat, cheese and tortilla chips for scooping)
PB&J wrap
Peanut Butter Crackers
English Muffin/Bagel Pizzas
Pizza Wraps
Macaroni and Cheese
Other fruit (pineapple, whole banana, raisins, etc)
Air popped pop corn
Tortilla chips
Pita chips
Garden vegetable chips
String cheese
Granola Bars (without chocolate)
Apple sauce
Rice Cakes

Some other ideas for your (not as picky) child:
Peanut Butter and honey
Deli meats as sandwich or wrap
Raw veggies
Other fruit (apples, oranges, kiwi, melons, etc)
Pasta salad (sans mayonnaise)

In less than a week I have found that he is eating better (more) at school than he did at home. I think it is because all of the other kids around him are eating. The result? He comes home happier and in a much better mood than when he was in PreK and refusing to eat what they served.

Also, I have found that he is eating what we put in his lunch because he is choosing it the night before. We give him a few choices and he picks – and so far, an empty lunch box each afternoon! Hooray!

Any other ideas that you can think of or that has worked for your child? I’m all ears and I’m sure we are not the only parents looking for help on this one!


  1. I'm surprised with all the other restrictions that peanut products are allowed!

    But given that he can take PB, try something I just saw on another blog: pb/banana sushi rolls!
    De-crust a piece of sandwich bread & roll it flat with a rolling pin; spread with PB, then roll that around a banana. Slice in chunks to look like sushi.

    The blog justbento has some recent ideas - not all are the fancy-schmancy bento art type, either!

    When I was in school & when my child was, we both essentially at the same thing all year. [My child's ONLY green vegetable for about 4 years was dill pickles.] Most people I know say the same thing. I would think even just the same thing all week long would be fine - so if your child has a meal he likes, try repeating it instead of trying to come up with something new every day.

  2. Awesome - I just saw those SAME PB&J sushi rolls yesterday just after writing this blog post and sent them in his lunch today. They were a surprise, so I cannot wait until he gets home today so I can see if he liked them!

    Thanks for the tip!