50 answers

Lunch Ideas for MDO

I have a very picky 2.5 year old boy who has recently stopped eating his one staple for lunch...PB&J sandwhiches. So now I need some ideas of what to send to school with him 2 days a week. They cannot microwave anything either so I am at a lost. Any suggestions?

3 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions. We will be trying some of them in the weeks to come. Today, I sent him with oatmeal I made this morning and he ate it all, and the crackers and cheese too. So thanks again!

Featured Answers

i have a picky eater too. for lunches i would try:
*lunchables (usually a big hit - basic crackers, ham and cheese) then they build thier own little stackers. they have a huge variety now to chose from. J.

We had a problem at school that we could not have any peanut product up there. I used Nutella instead of peanut butter. My 3 yr old calls it chocolate butter and loves it.
Anyways, it worked for us and now he has gone back to peanut butter and gets to choose which one he wants now.
And good luck with the second one!

I know what you mean. My son has always been finnicky. I bought a lunch box that came with a thermos (on ebay). Everything stays warm in there including spaghetti and chicken nuggets. For cold things I put a small refreezable ice pack in the lunch box. That I picked up at Walmart. Good luck, I hope this helps!!

More Answers

When my 7 year old was in preschool he would not eat sandwiches--I sent peanut butter or cheese crackers with a string cheese instead of a sandwich and he did fine with that.
Good luck!

My little boy is so easy when it comes to food,however, I know that is not always the case. Have you tried lunch meat from the deli and chz roll ups? I also cook up chk brst and put a little dash of salt and ketchup, he loves that. Sometimes Alex refuses his PB&J and I switch it up with honey and banana or honey and PB.

Good Luck

I have a picky 3 year old and he loves quesadillas. Cheese (and chicken if you want) melted between tortillas. this should do well going with him to MDO.

NOW is the perfect time to begin varying his diet...or he'll become even pickier!! I've seen it happen time and time again. When you offer a variety of healthy foods, giving him no choice,(as in no alternatives to what you make or put in his lunch- and letting him eat when he chooses...i.e. when he's hungry enough to fix what you've made.) He will learn to like what you prepare!
I'd start with finger foods, like boiled eggs, cubed lunch meats and cheese with whole grain crackers, fruit and veggies.(grapes cut in half and soft veggies, like lightly steamed carrots) You can vary the types of cheese,meats, fruits and veggies for variety.

I was also a super-picky eater as a child, and my mom would send me to pre-school with cold curry chicken salad, of all things. I loved it! It has chicken, apples, cashews, rice, and a dressing with curry powder that's not spicy. If you think you'd like to give it a try, send me a message and I'll send you mom's recipe. A simpler idea - how about cold pizza?

OMG! This is sooo easy. How about fresh luncheon meat - low fat of course! cheese sticks, carrots, cut up apples, Microwave hotdogs for him, and pack them. There are tons of things you can do!

i have a picky eater too. for lunches i would try:
*lunchables (usually a big hit - basic crackers, ham and cheese) then they build thier own little stackers. they have a huge variety now to chose from. J.

I have a son that is on medicine for ADHD, which takes his appetite away. At lunch, I was packing a different lunch to see what he would eat and the only thing he ate was the fun fruits. What works for him now, is a protein bar, or the yogurts that have the fun toppings. That has been a success. At your sons age, I wonder if you took any sandwich and tried cutting it in triangles or shapes that he would be more likely to eat it. Never know.
Good Luck.
S. Linney

Just an FYI...after about 15 months, there is no nutritional value to giving your kiddos baby food. It doesn't hurt them at all and if it makes a Mom feel better that is good, but they get nothing nutritionally from it.

My son's school does not allow peanut butter I had to do a way with his one staple as well. I now make him cream cheese and jelly sandwiches...he loves them. You can use different kinds of cream cheese or just the plain...he eats them all. Give it a try, your son may like it. Good luck!

Hi LK,
This can be simple. I would give him Original Limu, a delicious seaweed drink that helps children develop mentally, physically and in other amazing ways. It is the best food on the market and by giving him his Limu you won't worry about his not eating a well rounded veges, fruits, etc. meal. In fact it may help his appetite where he will not be a picky eater. Go to www.healthfulways.limupro.com and see all the things this simple drink helps accomplish. Take the product tour and see what it says. Please call me ###-###-#### and I can send you information as well. I have been in business over 27 years and this one drink is making mothers' lives a lot easier!
Love, C.

My son loved peanut butter and Mayo, It was funny because as a teenager I babysat a kid that I had to make this sandwich for, I thought, How gross, but then I had a son that loved it. Go figure. Anyway, I had to give him something else because he stated having problems with the peanut butter oil, I made him spam, potted meat, ham and cheese sandwiches and sometimes I just put a lot of fruit in his lunch, grapes, apples, oranges, nothing that had to be put in the frig, so you don't have to have a sandwich all the time. good luck.

My daughter has never liked PBJ but LOVES Nutella. Its in the same aisle as peanut butter but is a chocolate hazelnut spread. Hope this helps!

One thing you could do, that should "ease" your worries about him not getting the vitamins and what-not he should during the day, is get those Pedia-Sure nutrition drinks. (or the Wal-Mart brand, like I do... way cheaper for the same thing). Send him one of those, and something small to eat, so you're sure that if he drinks the drink, he'll be getting what his body needs, and if he decides to eat, great, if not, then that'll be OK too.

My son is the same age and goes to MDO from 9a-1p twice a week. I just pack him snacks like goldfish crackers, juice box, apple slices, raisins, a couple slices of lunch meat ham rolled up. He can pick and choose what he wants. Sometimes he doesnt eat any of it. If he doesnt eat much, I just feed him when we get home. He still likes to eat baby food, so if he doesnt eat a good meal of table food, I'll spoon feed him a couple packs of babyfood veggies when we get home at 1:00 - that way I know he ate something nutricious.

My 3-yr olds two favorite things to take for lunch are cheese tortollinis (buy them frozen and once you boil the water they cook in 3 minutes) and bean & cheese quesadillas (take one tortilla, smear half of it with beans, add some cheese and zap for 30 sec in the microwave). Neither of my kids seems to mind eating room temperature pasta, etc.

Pimiento cheese sandwiches, cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, crackers and sliced cheese, nutella sandwiches.

You might try those lunchable kits... or Peminto cheese sandwiches, cheese and crackers and a cut up hot dog. cold pizza? its tough when you cant heat stuff...

I love all the things people have told you so far! How cool is mamasource! I wanted to add that olives are fun. Also I buy one big slice of turkey cut about about half and inch thick from the deli. Then I use that to cube turkey pieces. Sometimes I will put the turkey cubes, cheese cubes and some fruit on a straw (just stick the straw through them) to make a kebob-like lunch.

I have a picky eater too! You can try lunchables. Also, I warm up chicken nuggets and send those. Now, don't laugh, but I also cooked up breakfast sausage and sent those! Her MDO teacher was an older woman and remembered her mother doing the same thing when she was little. :) Whatever your son does eat will probably last until lunch time without being warmed up. I've even sent Cheif Boy-ar-dee Ravioli before.

My 3 daughters all went through this stage. I remember they liked their food "separate" at that age. I started making my own "lunchable" type lunches in plastic divided containers. Little squares of lunch meat, cheese, bread crackers, grapes, etc. You can cut the meat, cheese and bread into triangles or squares and they seem to like making their own little combos. Hope that helps!
Also, at about 3 years old I started letting them/requiring them to pack their own lunches! I would keep healthy choices on one shelf of the fridge and in one spot in the pantry. It allowed us to start talking about what makes a nutritious meal: e.g. protein, grains, fruits, dairy, etc. They always ate the lunches they packed, while often the lunches I packed came home uneaten or smeared all over the inside of their lunch bags. They really liked the freedom and responsibility, I got out of one evening chore and they ate their lunches!

When my 3 year-old is being picky with his food, I just pack several healthy snacks (cheese sticks, lunchmeat, crackers, goldfish, raisins, fruit snacks, etc.) and let him have fun choosing what he eats that day once he gets to school. I also send a meal shake, so if he doesn't eat anything at all for lunch, I know he at least is getting something nutritious. He rarely has anything left in his lunchbox when he gets home.

Yogurt with nuts or granola or fruit
Hot dogs or cheese-sticks wrapped in a tortilla
Lunch meat and cheese sandwich
Cheese and crackers
If you're worried about spoilage, add an ice pack.

i wrap in wax paper:
fruit.carbo (sliced banana, melon, watermelon, grapes, berries)
sliced organic mozzerella cheese (you can get Horizon brand at Kroger)
sliced organic sliced turkey or chicken (I get at Whole foods but Hormel at Kroger has an all natural, less junk in it as far as preservatives but not sure about antibiotics and stuff)
chopped fresh avacado
i wrap individually as finger food and put in a ziplock.
sometimes i put in some whole grain crackers for extra fiber
she eats it all and it's easy!

I send lunchables to MDO with my super picky eater. He LOVES PB&J but his school is now peanut free! He refuses to eat the lunchables at home but for some reason eats them at school everytime. I think it may be peer pressure, his teachers say that the kids whose mom's pack all organic lunches are jealous of his lunchables.

My children are in preschool where they do not allow any nut products...so no PB&J...and mine will not eat any other sandwiches so I give them the following lunch every day they go to school:

Ham, Turkey or somesort of lunch meat, cheese, crackers, carrots or celery sticks and grapes.

Try cheese sandwiches too.

I used to send weinies that I microwaved and then sliced up. You can keep them warm with those packs that heat and cool. This one was hard for me too but my son is 11 now and eats everything! Carrot sticks and ranch dressing are good choices too.

Hi L K,
Try a small sandwich bag of popcorn, a bag of cut apples or grapes and a bag of cheese sticks. He'll get a fruit, a grain and a protein and he won't even know it.

I'd make those big shell or bow tie pasta. Both my boys enjoyed them cold and they were fun to eat for them. A few cheese slices, some carrots and grapes. My boys are 7 and 10 now and they still go get pasta straight out of the fridge and have it for snacks.

Let him help make it! No matter what it is the hand that helps eats it. The kid who shakes the dressing (or grows the tomatoes)eats the salad. You can buy a small thermos and put boiling water in it, empty it and add anything and it will stay warm for several hours. Ours were the short and flat kind like a bowl and one was a spaghetti O's version. Which is also something my kids loved for lunch. Only half a cup and some carrot sticks or string cheese, maybe both. A couple of apples slices or maybe a fruit roll up. Viennea sausages, little smokies, any cream cheese rolled in a tortilla and sliced into pinwheels. Just let him do it!

I am enjoying all the suggestions for my picky Pre-K kid. One thing I do is toast two pieces of bread, spray them with spray butter, then melt a slice of cheese in the microwave for about 15 seconds. It's still fresh for lunch. I've also had good luck with bologna and cheese and very light mayo on bread. I do change up the extras as much as I can.
Thanks for the question!
C. S.

My 2.5 year old grandson loves vienna sausages and he also likes to eat dry cereal. He seems to like the cereal in a baggie so he can carry it around.Yogart is something he likes a lot too.
He has become a picky eater too.I think right now Cheeto's is his all time favorite food.
One thing to keep in mind keep choices available, they will eat when they get hungry. We have eating days and non eating days.

I have raised three healthy children who have managed not to starve in the process. I've always aimed to serve well balanced meals to my children and if they were hungry enough they ate what was served to them. I was never a short order cook providing multiple choices to each individual child in my home, I believe this will develop a "picky eater". I would maybe try some other protein choices in place of the PB&J such as a Cheese stick, veggies, fruit, milk, water etc. Is it possible he is tired of the same old same old?
Good luck!

You could try precooked chicken nuggets that are frozen. By the time lunch gets there they thaw but are still cold (like the chicken dippers in the lunchables.) My kids love these. Also when my son was 2 and an extreemly picky eater, I would send him with shredded cheese (it was the only kind he would eat), bacon bits (I wanted him to have a protien), croutons, and grapes.

Lunchables are great for this. We use them each week and I can usually find them for around $1.50 at Target or Walmart. Grocery stores sell them for about $2.00 a piece, but if you watch the ads, I have found them for $0.99. Its great b/c I can just grab it and go! hope that helps!

We do rolled up turkey and my son loves it. We also send baby carrots - lunchables - they love building their lunch.

We had a problem at school that we could not have any peanut product up there. I used Nutella instead of peanut butter. My 3 yr old calls it chocolate butter and loves it.
Anyways, it worked for us and now he has gone back to peanut butter and gets to choose which one he wants now.
And good luck with the second one!

pamento cheese? im not sue\re that is how you spell it, but it's a pinkie/orange color. you can find it with the cream cheese

I noticed a couple of suggestions about lunchables, but I wanted to give you some feedback on that. You can easily recreate lunchables with much healthier ingredients (Lunchables are LOADED with calories and salt - yuck). Even as an adult I wouldn't want to ingest that stuff. Plus, if you send the ones that have a sugary juice drink and dessert, your child may just drink the juice, eat the dessert, and then throw the rest away. Your child's teachers probably don't have time to police every child's lunch eating habits. The other suggestions are great.

My daughter likes chicken nuggets. I bought her a colorful thermos from Target. I fill the thermos with hot water while I heat the nuggets. Then I put the chicken in a snack size baggy, pour out the hot water and put the baggy in the thermos. My son used to like taking barbeque sauces from McDonalds or Chickfila to dunk. My kids also liked 'meat burritos'. Take lunch meat and wrap it around string cheese. It also works with cream cheese if your son likes that. The thermos could also work for soup or pasta meals.

Hope you find what will work for you.

I teach MDO in the 2yr old class...Here are some of their favorites because we are a peanut-free facility. Lunchable or Lunchable jr (these are way outta whack with calories & such), leftover pizza cut up, lunchmeat cut up or rolled up, cubes of cheese, cheese sticks, veggies in containers (raw or cooked), chicken nuggets, soup, soy butter & jelly (my kiddos favorite), cut up hotdogs with ketchup to dip, fruit cups, chex mix, yogurt cups, etc.

Anything he will eat at home just cut up and send it to school. You can get the thermos jars for warm food and they stay warm pretty good.

This probably is strange but my son loves beans! I send canned, rinsed beans - usually black beans-in a Tupperware container or in a baggie and then some type of cheese (cubes, shreds, string), raisins or grapes or some type of fruit or a small yogurt and some frozen peas. He usually eats most of it. I did also get a cookie cuter in the shape of two hearts that cuts the crusts of the bread & slices it into two hearts at Linens and Things for PBJ days.

My little guy loves ham cubes (I get them at Walmart), string cheese & cracker fish (gold fish crackers). Add some carrot stix or fresh fruit & your good to go!

chicken nuggets (I use Tyson) are a fixture in our home with 4 kids under 5. You can get a lunch bag that will keep foods warm and/or cool. When my girls went to MDO, I sent them regularly with some of the following: chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken fettucine, bar-b-que weiners (slice, cover with sauce, microwave for a minute); sliced cucumber, tomatoes, sliced turkey or chicken breast, turkey "roll-ups" (sliced turkey & cheese melted on bread/soft taco, etc. and rolled up), baked beans. Some types of baby food can be used as vegetable sides - like sweet potatoes or Gerber graduates. Green beans travel well - I cook them with bar-b-que sauce to give them a little flavor. I also always put a serving of yogurt or jello in the lunch bag. good luck.

I have picky lunch eaters too. I tend to send a bunch of heathy snack type things. Turkey rolled up. Cheese cubes. Cheese circles. Cheese sticks. Cheese and crackers he can put together himself or eat separately. One of my kids even eats cold Mac N' Cheese. I also try to throw in cut up fruit that I know he will eat or grapes or a banana. The carrots and dip packages are good too.

I know what you mean. My son has always been finnicky. I bought a lunch box that came with a thermos (on ebay). Everything stays warm in there including spaghetti and chicken nuggets. For cold things I put a small refreezable ice pack in the lunch box. That I picked up at Walmart. Good luck, I hope this helps!!

How about a cheese sandwich or string cheese and fresh veggies or fruit.

If he will eat noodles or hot dogs you can get a thermos and warm it up in the morning and send that with him to school. That is what i do with my 2 1/2 years old son. It seems to work. Then i send yogart or cheese and crackers. He also loves sun chips. They are a little healthier and have a sweet taste. Good luck

I give my son things like fruit, raisins, carrots along with things like sliced turkey, cheese, leftover pizza, cooked pasta, or leftover macaroni and cheese. I have one of those blue ice things and I put that in with his lunch so it stays cool.

I have a 3 year old in a MDO. I do things like Lunchables (her Fav.), honey & peanut butter, honey & jelly, ham & cheese, bagel & cream cheese, tortilla rolls. I usually put with it fruit cups, jello, trail mix, string cheese, fishies and juice boxes. Really I just play around and try things out. I hope that helps.

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