• Chronicles of Mom Life

Well-Balanced & Kid-Approved School Lunch Ideas for the Picky Eater

Updated: Jun 24

It’s that time of year again!


The school year is starting, and you must plan school lunches every day for your child's lunchbox.


While everyone loves the typical peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or the turkey and cheese on wheat, my daughter is among the picky eaters who only wants a delicious snack for lunch. This really limits getting her to try new foods and getting to create healthy meals for her.


I wanted to come up with a great way to give her a variety of foods and still make them finger foods. These easy lunch ideas would be great for even the pickiest eater.



If you want to include your child's favorite food, but also include healthy recipes in their lunch box, check out how I incorporated some of the major food groups into my lunch selections.


I tried to come up with some great choices for healthy lunch ideas approved by my daughter that she can enjoy every day.


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What Type of Lunch Box I Use:


The best way to make lunchtime easier, is to purchase this amazing Bento Box off Amazon called Bentgo Kids Brights Lunch Box.


This Bento Box is a great option for those picky kids who do not want their food to touch. You can add the Bento Box to a lunch bag with an ice pack, use it for hot foods, or use it for room temperature food.


My favorite part about this lunch box is that it seals shut and keeps all the compartments separate. You can put liquids in the compartments, and it will not leak into the rest of your food.


My five-year-old can open and close this Bento Box on her own with some practice. I just put the Bento Box in a cloth lunch bag with an ice pack and she is good to go.



What I Do to Meal Prep:


When picking out foods, I try to hit every category so that she is getting a well-balanced meal with healthy options. A bonus for her, I add a little dessert my child likes as well.


Some of the major food groups I try to hit include:


- Protein

- Dairy

- Fresh Fruit

- Vegetable

- Carbohydrate

- Dessert


Before I put my lunches together, I spent a lot of time making lists of different items I know my child would eat.


I organize the food items by category, to make it easier to go shopping and plan her daily lunches ahead of time.


It's a good idea to plan ahead for fussy eaters, so you can just pull the food out and put it in the Bento Box the day before.



Healthy Foods for Your List:


Below are the lists of items I started with, and I add new things as I go

You can find some great things to add to the healthy school lunch ideas list if there are other foods your child loves to eat.


Protein:

- Turkey

- Ham

- Chicken Nuggets

- Rotisserie Chicken


Dairy:

- Colby Jack Cheese Stick

- Provolone Cheese

- Mozzarella String Cheese

- Yogurt

- Pudding

- Smoothies

- Cottage Cheese


Fruit:

- Apple Slices

- Banana

- Watermelon

- Grapes

- Blueberries

- Applesauce

- Mandarin Orange Slices


Vegetables:

- Carrot Sticks / Baby Carrots

- Cherry Tomatoes

- Sweet Potato Fries

- Mashed Sweet Potatoes

- Pumpkin

- Broccoli Tots

- Celery Sticks

- Bell Peppers

- Snap Peas


Carbohydrate:

- Pasta

- Graham Crackers

- Goldfish

- Dry Cereal

- Muffins

- English Muffins

- Granola Bars


Dessert:

- M&M’s

- Hershey Kiss

- 3 Musketeer

- Cookie

- Gelatin


I hope this list helps you come up with foods your children will eat and helps to create a more balanced meal for lunch time.


A little bit of prep time, and you can come up with some great school lunch boxes for your littlest diners.



How to Get Your Child to Eat the Food You Send:


Keep in mind while shopping that if your child does not eat the food at home, they will most likely throw it away or bring it back home. Try to ease your child into more food options. You could start by introducing different foods at home first as a snack or with a meal. After a few times, your child may try the food and enjoy it.


Adding a variety of colors to their lunch box can also make their lunch more appetizing and you may have a better shot at getting them to eat it. Also include a food you know they will eat with each lunch, so they eat something that day. My daughter loves fruit, dairy, and protein, so I know she will eat those foods when I send them.


If you know your child loves a certain pasta salad or meal that you make that can be customized, make it at home for dinner the night before and then put it in their lunch the next day. My daughter loves my Summer Pasta Salad, which includes Ham, Colby Jack Cheese Sticks, Apples, Cherry Tomatoes, and Elbow Pasta, mixed in with Italian Dressing. I included this meal idea below under Meal #6. This meal covers most of the major food groups I've included, and she eats it all. There are many meals you can hide healthy foods in and most likely, your child will not notice.


Most kids have trouble eating their vegetables.

If your child is one of them, check out my post 20 Fun Ways to Eat Veggies for Kids.



Meal Ideas with Different Foods for Healthy Eating:


Check out a few of the lunches I have made in the past below for my daughter's lunch. Since she's still in elementary school, these healthy ideas are easy for her to eat during her quick lunch break.



Meal #1:

- Turkey

- Provolone Cheese

- Applesauce

- Sweet Potato Fries

- Graham Cracker

- Hershey Kiss


Meal #2:

- Chicken Nuggets

- Colby Jack Cheese Stick

- Watermelon

- Broccoli Tots

- Goldfish

- M&M’s


Meal #3:

- Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets

- Colby Jack Cheese Stick

- Applesauce

- Fried Zucchini

- Goldfish

- M&M’s


Meal #4:

- Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets

- Mozzarella String Cheese

- Grapes & Blueberries

- Pumpkin

- Graham Crackers

- Ranch Dressing

- Hershey Kiss


Meal #5:

- Rotisserie Chicken

- Provolone Cheese

- Banana

- Carrots

- French Fries

- 3 Musketeer


Meal #6:

- Ham

- Colby Jack Cheese Stick

- Apples

- Cherry Tomatoes

- Pasta Noodles (Pasta Salad)

- Homemade Gelatin

- M&M’s



You could still go with the traditional sandwich for lunch and add a serving of fruit if you are looking for an easy recipe. My daughter loves SunButter and Jelly Sandwiches and she would eat them every day if she could. The goal is to get her to eat a variety of healthy foods that she enjoys, but slowly try to introduce her to new foods.


The thing I love about this list is the foods are great for toddler lunch ideas, kindergarten lunch ideas, and even lunch ideas for your older kids.


Do you have a child who is allergic to peanuts and can't eat the cookie cutter peanut butter and jelly sandwich at school, but you want more options than almond butter?


The last thing you want to do is stress about what to feed your child for lunch every day.


Check out my post Peanut-Free Alternatives and Brands to open your options even more for your child.



Do you find picky eating makes it hard to plan lunches for your child?


Did you find some great ideas for your child's lunch?


Comment below to share your favorite lunch time foods for your little kids and big kids!



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