Win Over Your Picky Eaters

Do you have picky eaters heading out the door to school every morning? It’s okay. You’re not alone. They’re everywhere!

The six-year-old who won’t let her peas touch her corn at home surely won’t let those bad old crusts rub up against the filling in her sandwich. That’s pretty much a guarantee. No wonder so many parents groan and roll their eyes when September approaches. Few if any grown-ups are doing a happy dance about the return to making school lunches.
Parents of newly school-aged kids blithely send out perfect, nutritionally balanced lunches daily, believing the little darlings are eating every bite. That is until the backpack starts to smell and they discover the grapes and the pear, carrot sticks and banana rotted at the bottom.

Here are some suggestions to help increase the odds they’ll eat what you send with them.

  • Forget the standard sandwich. Be creative. Vary the bread. Send a bagel one day, a wrap the next, a filled croissant on yet another day. Try mini whole-grain ciabatta or hamburger buns too.
  • Hide the nutrition: Grate carrots, finely shred spinach, mince broccoli and mix them in preferred sandwich fillings or sprinkle them on the top of whole-wheat tortilla bread after you add the other ingredients and before you wrap it.

If your kids are young enough that they’re willing to take reusable lunch containers to school, the possibilities are endless.

  • Send favourite leftovers in a hot, sterilized thermos. (Read the label carefully in the store when you buy it to ensure it’s designed for hot foods.)
  • Pack hummus, baba ghanouj, tzatziki, spinach or roasted red pepper dip, with veggies in a separate container for dipping.  
  • Put salad in a reusable container with grated cheese, chopped egg or chopped meat sprinkled on top for added protein. Sterilized empty pill bottles are perfect containers for salad dressing. (They don’t drip!)
  • *Cold items should go in a cold thermos. You can also put a frozen pack in the insulated lunch bag. Rinse the frozen pack, dry it and pop it back into the freezer every day after school.
  • Vary the choices so your young sweeties don’t get bored and use their lunches for target practice with the garbage can.
  • Get them involved in shopping for and preparing their own lunches, so they’re more apt to appreciate them and eat them.
  • If possible, don’t send packaged items or processed foods. When you do, odds are the healthy stuff won’t get eaten.
  • Set some lunch rules:
  1. The kids should bring their uneaten items home.
  2. They should also rinse or wash containers as soon as they come home from school.


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