Skip to Content

School Lunch Ideas For Picky Eaters

Most of the time I don’t think of my 3 kids as picky eaters. After all one of my kids’ favorite meals is dhal (Indian lentil curry) with rice or parathas. Another favorite meal is tofu stir fry though with the emphasis on the tofu rather than the vegies.

Yet when it comes to school lunch ideas, it feels like my kids are super picky. Finding one lunch idea that all 3 will eat… impossible! So I thought I would share a few tips to help get your kids eating more or just eating anything at school, and some great school lunch ideas for picky eaters.

School Lunch Tips For Picky Eaters

Choose school lunch ideas that are…

1. Simple

Is your picky eater particular about different food touching each other? One of my kids has been known to get upset if even a grain of rice touches the meat on his plate. The answer… keep school lunch ideas simple!

Our go-to now is the 2-ingredient sandwich. Sometimes the second ingredient is only butter or margarine. Now that is simple!

But I have found from experience my kids will eat a sandwich with simple fillings as opposed to something more involved like a chicken, cheese and salad sandwich with mayo. (See below for a list of simple 2-ingredient sandwiches!)

Another way to make school lunches simple is to use a bento box. My favorite bento box lunch boxes are the Yumbox.

Yumbox lunch boxes are leak proof and have several compartments. They work well for packing a simple sandwich or wrap, AND a serving of vegetables and fruit separately. Hurrah, nothing touching! (See the fruit and veg list at the bottom for ideas!)

Bonus, it also makes preparing school lunches much quicker and easier.

2. Fresh

One of my kids is really sensitive to textures and tastes.  Anything that doesn’t last well won’t get eaten EVEN if they are really hungry.   It’s true some foods taste better eaten as soon as they are prepared while other foods will keep their texture and taste, even hours later.

A couple of times I have made the same food as my kids for lunch ahead of time.  I recommend you do that a few times.  It will give you a good idea of what your kids’ lunches actually taste like hours later.

Is the sandwich dry or soggy?  Does the fruit go soft and brown? Is the yoghurt still cold by the time they come to eat it?  Would you enjoy eating the school lunches your kids eat?

3. Quick To Eat

The reality is that kids often have such a short time for eating during the school day. School lunch ideas which take time to eat will get ignored or not finished.  

Think about tricky packaging that might be hard for little fingers to open, as well as any foods that are fiddly or require lots of chewing.

I find that cutting up fruits and vegetables at home means kids can finish eating in the short time they have.  For example, I will pre-peel mandarins.  Some other fruits which are quick to eat include strawberries, watermelon, grapes, bananas and sliced pear.

Are you concerned about how little fruit & vegies your picky eater eats at school?

My thought is that school is only one part of the day. So I make an effort to offer food choices before and after school, that balance out the lack of variety that my kids are eating at school.

For example; making sure breakfast has some kind of protein as part of it, eggs, beans, peanut butter, and that dinner and after school snacks include fruit and vegetables. That way the kids overall diet still provides for their nutritional needs.

School Lunch Ideas For Picky Eaters

2 Ingredient Sandwich or Wrap:

  • Butter and mighty mite or vegemite.
  • Butter & chocolate nut free spread. (I buy Coco Spread)
  • Butter & honey
  • Carrot & lettuce
  • Cheese & grated carrot
  • Cheese & cucumber
  • Chicken & avocado
  • Chicken & lettuce & grated carrot
  • Bacon & avocado

Cooked Food:

  • Cooked pasta with a white cheese sauce. (The kids found just grated cheese & pasta was too dry.)
  • Leftover spaghetti bolognese
  • Vegemite scrolls
  • Pizza scrolls
  • Toasted cheese sandwich or wrap
  • Leftover pizza

Individual Servings of Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Chunks of cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas
  • Snow peas
  • Chunks of red capisicum or pepper
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Dates
  • Pieces of watermelon
  • Berries
  • Mandarin
  • Orange pieces

What is your picky eater willing to eat for school lunches?

Click here for more helpful ideas…