Are you the parents of a fussy eater? We feel your pain! Trying to find something they will eat is hard enough, add in the fact they act like anything healthy is the enemy, packing their lunch box can feel like the biggest chore. Is your little one the one complaining they no longer like cheese even though they ate it just fine last week?! Every parent with a child at school or nursery is well aware of the daily struggle of what to pack them for lunch.
The best way to avoid your little one coming home with an empty stomach and a full lunch box is to get them involved in their food choices. Allowing them a certain amount of control over what they are getting for lunch and letting them be involved in the choices could be the key to getting them to eat more.
We’ve compiled some lunch box ideas that pass even the fussiest of eaters taste tests.
Sometimes simply presenting the food differently can help entice fussy eaters to at least give it a try! Get creative by cutting their sandwiches into funky shapes such as stars or hearts to make it more exciting for when they open up their lunch box. Or you could even make funny faces out of different ingredients to make them smile. We know this may take a little longer at meal prep time, but the results are worth it when they are finally enjoying lunch times.
Little hands need little food.
Make things a bit easier for smaller hands and fingers by including bite-sized and pre-cut items to packed lunches for younger kids. We know it sounds crazy but sometimes your child can feel overwhelmed when they are presented with an overload of food and can instantly be put off from diving in. Think about picking the grapes off the vine for easy eating or cutting up cheese into small cubes perfect for picking up. Children of all ages love to dip things, especially the younger kids. Cut up carrot and cucumber or pop in bread sticks along with some dip and let them dip away. This is a great way to get those extra veggies into their lunch boxes.
Whilst we know it is important to make sure their lunch is as healthy as possible to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need, adding a small treat will help them to get excited about lunch time and hopefully get them eating the rest. Treats don’t have to mean unhealthy though, raisins are healthy but are very sweet in taste. Popcorn is also high in fibre and a fun snack to eat, just make sure you get it plain with no extra flavourings. Edamame beans can also be seen as a fun treat to get them exploring new flavours, they are also high in protein, fibre and many more nutrients.
Change it up
Sandwich day after day would get boring for even the least fussy of people. Switch it up a few days a week and ditch the lunch box staple sandwich. Offering your child a variety of different alternatives will mean they are trying new things and will be excited for a change. It may be hard to imagine a lunch without a sandwich but there are plenty of alternatives to test out. Try out wraps, pittas or even skewers and kebabs sticks full of yummy goodness. Test out all different flavours and ingredient combinations to find new and interesting sandwich alternatives to keep everyone happy.
Build your own
As your child gets older their independence will start to show. Independence is a big factor in fussy eating because children like to have control over what they are eating, making your job as head chef even trickier. A good way around this is to let them make up their own concoctions and variations for lunch. Pop in some of their well known favourite ingredients such as meats, cheese and veg in separate containers, along with bread or crackers, and let your child build their own lunch at school. You could also do this with yogurt and a variety of toppings such as fruit or granola.
There is no easier way to get your child to eat their food than giving them their favourite food. However, often their "favourite" means all the bad unhealthy stuff like pizzas or crisps. Now we aren’t saying pop a pizza in the oven and give it to them for lunch, but you can make pizza inspired alternatives that include no where near as much salt and fat as standard shop bought pizzas. Simply get some pittas or French baguette, add some tomato sauce or puree and pile on all their favourite toppings. Pizza for lunch? They won’t believe their luck.
Swap the packet of crisps for healthy alternatives such as vegetable crisps. Carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and so much more make great crunchy crisp inspired snacks. Simply cut them into thin slices and pop them in the oven with a drizzle of oil. Hey presto, you’ve given them pizza and crisps for lunch.
Hopefully you now feel inspired and ready to tackle the lunch box duty for another week with some of these recipes. Check out our range of food storage and lunch boxes to help keep all your amazing lunch box creations fresh and yummy ready for them to tuck in to.