School Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters

Updated on August 31, 2010
A.F. asks from Columbus, OH
9 answers

Sorry Ladies, I'm sure this question has probably been asked a hundred times recently but can you give me some ideas what you send to school in your kids lunch? Just a heads up, No PB & J for her, she does not like it. When she's home I make her mac & cheese, grilled cheese, etc. All hot foods.

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answers from Chicago on

My son is eating lunch at school for the first time this year and we too have always done a lot of hot lunches at home. PB & J is out for us too. Does she like lunch meat? They are the only sandwiches my son will eat so I have thought of ways to mix it up a bit and try to make the other lunch items more fun.
For the sandwich i sometimes put it on regular bread and use a large cookie cutter to shape it or make it on a small sandwich kaiser roll (the ones in the Dominicks bakery section are perfect for young kids).
My son really wants "Lunchables" to make the cracker sandwich but instead of buying them I make them. I slice the cheese and make a shape with a small cookie cutter and do the same for salami or summer sausage, and put some crackers in.
I started to make blueberry and bannana mini muffins and give him 2 in his lunch for a special treat.
I make a large bowl of sugar free jello or pudding and scoop a serving into a small tuperware container as a treat (it is cheaper than buying the small individual serving cups).
I always let him pick a type of fruit and some chips.
I haven't done it yet but I have heard if you have a small thermos you can put mac n cheese and soup in it and it will be warm when they eat it at lunch.
Since I don't feel like I have many options for my picky eater I try add little extras. I bought some different birthday napkins and a sheet of matching stickers (batman, spiderman etc.) and make a different theme each day. I put a napkin and a if I have any zip lock sandwich bags I put a sticker on it.

I hope some of these ideas I have found will also work for you!!

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answers from Fargo on

I run into this problem with my son every year. Here are a few of his favorite lunches: chicken noodle (or other favorite type) soup packed in a themos, mac-n-cheese (either cold or hot in a thermos), taco salad, yogurt with fruit and granola, cold cereal with milk, meat and cheese roll-ups, meat and cheese sandwhiches, homemade "lunchables" and cold pizza. He will eat sandwhiches but doesn't like bread crusts but he will eat buns, so I bake whole wheat buns for him to take each week. As for beverages, I try not to send juice boxes so instead he takes a thermos for juice or milk each day. He really likes strawberry flavored milk so that's what's in it most days.

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answers from Houston on

My son is picky. There is a veggie pasta that is good and my son prefers it cold - with a little olive oil and salt. Yogurt, carrots, nuts, bread with butter, dry sandwiches with just lunch meat (all natural) and cheese, chicken strips, etc. I purchased a container that keeps food warm for several hours. I try to go fresh whenever I can and I seem to pack the same stuff daily but as long as he eats! Hope that helps.

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answers from Kansas City on

With my oldest just starting first grade, this is a hit or miss for me. What works best for us is leftovers! Pigs in a blanket, turkey and cheese rollups, boiled eggs (peeled already), speghetti (I like cold speghetti, some don't), leftover pizza, meatloaf (heat it in the am, wrap in foil, keep away from the cold drink or ice pack if you use one), burox (ground beef/turkey, broccoli slaw, shredded cabbage, and spices cooked until soft put into a whole grain pita or tortilla with cheese- message me if you want a recipe), BBQ beef sandwiches.

Smucker's make those frozen grilled cheese's that you can take out of the freezer in the morning, cook (I've never used them but I imagine you could toast or microwave to warm up) and wrap in foil too.

I think the key will be keeping cold foods cold (I use a frozen capri sun or water instead of ice pack to save space) or warm (thermos or wrapped in foil).

I also go over the school lunch menu with him and ONE day a week he gets to pick a school lunch. Lord help me..this week it was chicken patty day! GROSS! But he loved it.
Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

What does she like and just give it ti her. I have a very picky eater and our school is nut free in most grades. My son will not eat bread so I give him yogurt , fresh fruit, and lunchmeat in a baggie. Almost every day I give my other kids chips and salsa, sliced cheese and crackers not packages of but real cheese, carrots and dip. The same things they wpuld eat if they were home. Good Luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

My kindergartener also loves mac & cheese and it's her favorite thing I pack for her lunch. She usually buys the school lunch but about once a week she wants to bring her lunch. I have a short/squat wide-mouth thermos type thing (decorated on outside with Disney Princesses and is pink) for hot food. In the morning, I boil some water in the microwave and then pour it into the container and put on the lid. Then I heat up leftover mac & cheese in the microwave. When it's hot, I pour out the water, put in the mac & cheese and put the lid on. It's still pretty hot at lunchtime 3-4 hours later. The water 'preheats' the thermos so the food stays hotter (instead of losing heat to inside of thermos which is cooler).

She also likes leftover spaghetti - I do the same thing as above.

She doesn't like sandwiches, but I lay out a tortilla, lay out 2 slices of cheese on 1 half, put a bit of lunchmeat (turkey or ham are her favorites) on the cheese and then roll it. Then I cut the 'log' into 1" pieces and lay them down in her lunch container. She loves the rolls even though she'd never touch a ham & cheese sandwich on bread!



answers from Cleveland on

Soup or hotdogs in a thermos. did this for years with my older son. Warm up the thermos before putting food in. cut hot dog if too big.

Maybe a slice of leftover pizza (warm up thermos, dry out, insert pizza slice--not sure if it would work). cold pizza slice was ok with mine.

K. Z.



answers from Dayton on

pack stuff to let her make her own pizza (like they do in lunchables but its way cheaper to do it yourself)