5 Fun and Easy Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters

Ahhhh! It’s finally here. We waited all summer for this, the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! As you gather your little ones up and bring the big bag of items that were on their school supply list.

Their backpack is overflowing with a new pencil case, notebooks, binders, and the iPad they were required to have. But what about lunch?

When you have a picky eater, this can be the hardest part of this school week. Enter Bento Boxes.

The best thing about Bento Boxes is you don’t have to buy reusable Ziplock bags to keep all of their food separate and let’s face it; a picky eater likely doesn’t want their food touching each other anyway.

I’ve compiled a list of great Bento Box ideas that almost every kid will love to open up during lunchtime and eat. You can order so many different types on Amazon.

There are a variety of options, including price, colors, and many include utensils. Continue for five kid and picky-eater friendly bento meals.

1. Ham and Cheese Sandwich

I love this easy lunch idea. There is no need for any utensils, and you can prepare all of the veggies ahead of time. Everything in this lunch can be handled by your little one with no need to open packages or baggies.

Customize this lunch by trading out the blueberries and strawberries with your kid’s favorite fruits.

For the younger kids or bigger ones who like to eat their food cut into shapes or patterns, you can use cookie cutters to keep lunchtime fun!

2. Turkey Club Roll-ups

If your little one isn’t a big fan of a sandwich and prefers tortillas, the turkey club roll-up bento does a great job!

You can include many different types of colors to create a fun spin on the regular turkey club sandwich. Try adding eggs as a bonus serving of protein, blocks of cheese, and fruits.

If your kids don’t like raisins, you can swap those out with cranberries or other dried fruit. Not a fan of tomatoes? That’s okay too.

It’s easy to mix and match to meet your kids’ dietary needs as well as make sure they will enjoy their lunch every day.

3. Snacks in a Bento

Lunch ideas for picky eaters can be extra creative with this creative Infographic created by Fork and Beans

So your kid isn’t a big “traditional” lunch eater. That’s okay! With your new Bento boxes, you are going to be able to create just the right lunch for the kids that are more “snackers” than “eaters.”

There are so many options for your snack Bentos that include fruits, veggies, treats, dippable foods, and crunch.

For your picky eater, you can customize their lunches using this pick and choose graphic created by Fork and Beans. The hardest thing about this Bento box will be trying to go through all of the possible combination ideas that are available.

Don’t forget, it’s just an example sheet, and you can add or remove your own child’s favorite foods. Getting them involved in selecting their combinations of foods will also help get them excited to try their creation the next day!

Specialty Diets

The next two options are going to be for the kids/parents who struggle to find nut-free, dairy-free, or gluten-free options for their kids to take to school. Avoid giving your kids the same thing over and over again by mixing things up each week!

4. Allergy-Free

My favorite option of the allergy-free Bento lunches from Baby FoodE is the pizza bagel. Most kids like pizza, but some can’t eat it.

However, with a gluten-free bagel and dairy-free cheese, your little ones can enjoy this lunch while their friends eat the school lunch.

Add in a side of crunchy peas or carrots with a side of fruit, and they’re sure to bring home an empty container for you at the end of the day.

The candies in this meal are a “dye-free vegan candy,” not regular M&Ms – so even with limited dairy-free options, other kids will be none the wiser about your child’s “unique” meal.

5. Gluten-Free

It’s becoming more and more common for children to be diagnosed with gluten sensitivities.

According to an article published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, the prevalence of celiac disease has remained relatively constant. However, there has been an increase in the number of people who follow a gluten-free lifestyle.

It’s great that people are taking their gluten intolerance, celiac disease, and other gluten-related disorders more seriously. Still, it can cause some issues when searching for options for lunch – especially with a picky eater.

It’s going to be a great year! Gluten-free crackers or chips paired with hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, fruit, and a veggie – you get a well-rounded meal without having to worry about getting the dreaded afternoon call from the nurse’s office.

As parents, you learn not only what your kids like to eat but what their bodies can tolerate. I hope this list and the links provided throughout have given you some ideas to make it through at least the first week of school.

Now, the hardest part will be either holding back tears when you take those “first day of…” photos or holding back your shouts and cheers as you drive away from the drop-off and head to Starbucks or Hobby Lobby alone.

Review Your School’s Allergen Policy

Some schools don’t allow high trigger foods such as peanut butter and other nut butters to be brought to school. Check with your school and review their allergy information page.

According to the CDC, “eight foods account for over 90 percent of allergic reactions in children: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat” with an increase in the prevalence of allergies by over 50% since 1997.

Please be aware of these allergens and if the school’s policy is to maintain an allergen-free campus.