Getting a picky eater to love their school lunch can be a challenging but achievable task. It requires patience, creativity, and a balanced approach. Here are some strategies you can try:
Involve Your Picky Eater in Lunch Choices
Include your child in the meal planning process to get them to love their lunch. Let them help choose some of the items for their lunch, whether you’re packing their lunch or you’re ordering from Dishes2U. This gives them a sense of control and ownership over their meals, and they’ll likely eat what they choose!
Offer Variety in Their Lunch
We all know variety is the spice of life, and school lunches are no exception! Provide a variety of foods in their lunchbox, including different fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains. Variety can help keep lunchtime interesting and may encourage your picky eater to try new things. They may realize they like it more than they think!
Make Lunchtime Fun
Get creative with the presentation. Remember, you eat with your eyes first. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes with sandwiches or fruit. Arrange colorful vegetables in an appealing way. The more visually appealing the meal, the more likely your child is to try it. If you can turn it into finger food, even better!
Keep School Lunch Portions Small
Offer smaller portions of new or less desired foods like fruit or veggies. This reduces the pressure on your child to finish a large portion and allows them to taste without feeling overwhelmed. Even a picky eater will try a bite or two of something they may not be a fan of, but a full plate of “ick” may turn them off completely. Over time, as they come to like the taste, you can increase those healthy portions.
Try to Include Favorites in Their Lunch
Really want to add carrots to that lunchbox to ensure they’re eating healthy? Pair less preferred foods with your child’s favorite items. For example, serve a vegetable with a sauce they love, or a side dollop of whipped cream, yogurt, or peanut butter with that apple or other fruit. While you might be adding a little sugar to their diet, you’re increasing the chances they’ll eat the healthy stuff too!
Order Lunch from a Favorite Restaurant
Many local restaurants offer kid-friendly items on their menu. If your school is working with Dishes2U, chances are, their favorite restaurant is on the list! Picky eaters like familiarity, so if you order the popular chicken nuggets or sandwich from their fav restaurant, they’re much more likely to eat it, even if it’s accompanied by a healthy side. Not sure Dishes2U offers their favorite restaurant? Check out our list of local restaurant partners to find out for sure. Don’t see the fan favorite? Let us know and we’ll try to add them to our restaurant partner family!
Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Also, understand that tastes change over time as kid’s palette becomes exposed to more variety of foods. Be flexible in your approach to school lunches and adapt to your child’s preferences and needs as much as you can. The goal is to create a positive and stress-free lunchtime experience that encourages healthy eating habits to last a lifetime for your picky eater!