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Quick Ways To Pack a Lunch for a Picky Eaters

Picky eaters send mom's across the county into panic mode when school starts and they need to pack a lunch. Toddlers attending a mom's day out program for the first time also send mom's into worry mode. What can they feed themselves without help, what can I send and still look like I am trying to balance their lunch while trying to be a good mom?

 

Remember, they need nourishment. They need a balanced diet but it doesn't have to happen for every meal. Some kids balance themselves out over a week's time instead of a day or a meal.

 

Don't introduce new foods away from home. Send foods they are familiar with and like.

 

Things that are tried and true. Don't rely on a teacher to help open containers or packages. Teachers don't appreciate items that they need to help the child eat. Even in a small ratio classroom, having eight to ten children that you need to spoon feed and eat lunch yourself takes more time than is usually given for lunch.

 

If you are focusing on balancing the meal, do try to send a protein, a fruit, and a starch. Dessert isn't necessary and is often not given to children because not everyone has similar items. Bento boxes are a great option for packing a variety of items for lunch. Some teachers think the child needs to eat well before being given a dessert item so they may be sent home unopened. Your child might not even know it was packed for them if the teachers set lunch up for the children.

 

So what works for picky eaters? Most young children will not eat lunchmeat or sandwiches. You are lucky if you have a child that will eat a sandwich. Your task is much less challenging if you can make a sandwich. But, if you can't, try cereal bars, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, or cheese and crackers. Try sending chicken nuggets, a hot dog, or even bacon or breakfast sausage if your little one likes breakfast meats in place of a sandwich. Do you have a thermos? Send soup or macaroni and cheese for lunch. Consider switching meals around. Send breakfast to school as a lunch substitute and eat lunch and dinner at home. Examples would be cereal or a bagel.

 

Vegetables or fruits are easy finger foods. Young children usually have a few they will eat. Remember to cut them or peel them if needed. Send a small container with dip to make eating fun. Consider alternatives for fruits and vegetables if you have a really picky eater. Try fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks like dried fruit. Something like raisins might work. Other options would be nuts and seeds. You do have to watch allergies in the classroom setting but sunflower seeds or peanuts can provide nourishment and get your child through the afternoon until they can be home and have a snack.

 

Starches are easy but there are good and not so good choices here as well. Potato chips and the like often are filled with empty calories and grease. Pretzels and multigrain crackers are better choices. You know best what your child will eat in this category and often it is the first or only thing they will eat. Sometimes you have to send snack food just to make sure they get something to eat.

 

The point is to get them to eat. If it isn't a balanced meal or the best choice you'd like to make, it is nourishment. Getting something in their stomach so they can make it through the day is what you should focus on. You can continue to work on introducing new foods and providing a variety at home.

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These are all great tips! I was fortunate that I only had one picky eater out of my three kids. Your practical tips are beneficial for parents of picky eaters.

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You've got some great tips here.
I had 1 very picky eater and then 2 that were much easier.
We did the thing you suggested and swapped breakfast sometimes, ie had a croissant or brioche in place of a sandwich.
Raisins and little bags of cut up fruit always went down well and made me feel like a good mum too!
If it helps anyone else reading, my picky eater is now 22 and eats almost normally now!

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These are some great tips, Janet! The Directory of my children's nursery school gave us a great orientation for packing lunches and she recommended many of the same tips. Mine really liked the "lunchable" style meal with crackers, cheese and some fruit. My daughter sends the oldest grandson with a similar meal. She uses cookie cutters to cut his sandwich, sends half with him for lunch and he eats the other half for snack when they return home.

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