Is your child a picky eater who eats the same rotation of foods for lunch?

When it comes to your picky eater’s lunch do you find yourself serving the same foods over and over?

Cheese, crackers, and a granola bar – again.

If so, don’t fret!

As a Nutritionist, I understand the importance of providing a variety of nutrient-dense lunches for your picky eater – especially for school-aged kids who need the right balance of nutrients to thrive at home and at school.

After all, we know that what your child eats impacts how they feel, how they behave, and how they learn.

However, many picky eater lunches consist of highly processed foods which quickly sends their blood sugar sky high. And what goes up must come down. So that blood glucose spike is followed by a crash. When your child is dealing with low blood sugar here’s what happens:

  1. They struggle to focus in class
  2. They struggle to self-regulate their emotions
  3. They struggle to manage their behaviours (if you have ever picked up a hangry kid from school, you know what I’m talking about!)

Well, we can support our kids and give them their best shot in school (and in life) with healthy lunches.

In this blog post, we will explore creative and appetizing lunch ideas specifically designed to entice and satisfy even the most selective young palates. Say goodbye to lunchtime battles and embrace a variety of options that will have your picky eater asking for seconds!

7 Nutritious Lunch Ideas for Your Picky Eater

1. Finger Food Extravaganza 

One way to pique the interest of picky eaters is by offering them an assortment of colorful finger foods. Create a bento-style lunchbox with an array of bite-sized delights such as cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, cucumber slices, cheese cubes, and whole grain crackers.

Kids love to explore different shapes and textures, and this interactive approach will encourage them to try new items while having fun at the same time. You can use fun toothpicks to make it even more appealing.

pick eater bento lunch box

2. Delectable Wraps and Roll-ups

Transform ordinary sandwiches into exciting wraps and roll-ups that will captivate your child’s taste buds. Use whole wheat tortillas or flatbreads to wrap up their favorite fillings like lean turkey, cheese, and avocado. Alternatively, spread cream cheese on a whole grain tortilla, layer it with sliced fruits like strawberries or bananas and roll it up for a sweet yet nutritious treat.

Ham and cheese rolled up in a wrap is a great lunch for picky eaters and simple to make

Credit: Easy Appetizers

3. Homemade Mini Pizzas

Pizza is the go-to for most parties because the majority of kids enjoy a slice (or three!). Instead of ordering a greasy delivery, involve your picky eater in the kitchen and make your own mini pizzas together. Provide a variety of toppings like bell peppers, mushrooms, lean ham, and pineapple for a balanced and personalized experience. Using whole-grain pita bread or English muffins as the base adds a healthier twist.

picky eater lunch pizza with veggies

4. DIY Lunch Kabobs

Kabobs are a fun and visually appealing way to present lunch. Let your child build their own lunch kabobs by providing a selection of ingredients such as chunks of grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and cubes of whole-grain bread. Use colorful skewers to make it even more exciting. This hands-on approach may encourage them to try different items while keeping the experience enjoyable.

mediterranean chicken kabobs for your picky eater's lunch

5. Silly Sandwich Shapes

Playful presentations can make all the difference when it comes to convincing a picky eater to try something new. Invest in a set of cookie cutters in various shapes and sizes to create whimsical sandwiches that will capture your child’s imagination. Whether it’s a star-shaped sun butter butter and jelly sandwich or a heart-shaped grilled cheese, the novelty factor can make lunchtime more appealing.

cat shaped sandwich for your picky eater's lunch

6. Sneaky Veggie Pasta

Pasta is often a hit with kids, but the challenge lies in incorporating vegetables into the dish. Prepare a sneaky veggie pasta by blending cooked and pureed vegetables like carrots, spinach, and zucchini into a flavorful tomato sauce. Mix the sauce with whole wheat (or a legume pasta) and top it with grated cheese. A picky eater-friendly way of serving veggies.

HEalthy kid-friendly food swap for your picky eater's lunch

7. Balanced Bento Boxes

Bento boxes are a fantastic idea for presenting a well-balanced meal in a visually appealing way. Divide the box into compartments and fill each one with a different food group. Include a source of protein like boiled eggs or turkey slices, whole grain crackers, colorful fruits, and a small treat like a piece of dark chocolate.

The variety of flavors and textures will engage your picky eater’s senses and encourage them to finish their lunch. We had this lunch box for years (best for up to age 6). But have since upgraded to a bigger lunch box like this (for my girls ages 6-10).

picky eater lunch box example

Encouraging a picky eater to try new foods doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. With these creative lunch ideas, you can make mealtimes enjoyable while ensuring your child receives the nutrition they need.

Wish your child ate more food at lunchtime and other meals?

If the begging, bribing, and negotiations aren’t resulting in your child trying to eat more foods at lunch and other meals, consider another (better) approach. Remember that control is a big reason why kids resist trying new foods. They want to show you that they are in control.

That’s why I designed the Curious Cookie Food Adventure Mat. It takes your child on a fun food exploration journey that they can follow step-by-step (and on their own). The result: children (even the pickiest eaters) are trying more new foods faster.

If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 10 years old, who you’d like to see trying more foods at lunch, the Adventure Mat is exactly what you need. Use it any time of day, and anywhere.

how to handle Halloween candy

Final Thoughts…

Remember to involve your picky eater in the lunch-making process, and let them explore different shapes and textures, and maintain a positive and supportive atmosphere. As their tastes evolve, you can continuously introduce new ingredients and expand their culinary horizons. Happy lunching!

Disclaimer: Always be mindful of your child’s dietary restrictions and allergies when trying new foods.