The Picky Eating Chronicles: Back to School


lunchbox (4 of 6)To read the first part of the Picky Eating Chronicles, click here.

We are now a few weeks into the new school year, and hopefully the back-to-school madness at home has calmed down. Even with all the craziness that comes along with this time of year, it’s a “new beginning” for your child – new clothes, new classroom, new teachers, and hopefully new foods in his eating pattern. Packing lunch for a selective eater is struggle, but if you are still packing the same two or three lunches that you’ve been packing for the last couple of years, I encourage you to consider some new tactics to help expand your child’s repertoire of foods.

Get Feedback: It is important to think about potential reasons why your child may not be eating the foods you are sending in his lunch box. Does the bread get mushy? Does the fruit have brown spots? Is the food at the right temperature? Is the sandwich too big or messy? Is there too much food? Some detective work may be necessary and with a little creativity on your part when addressing these potential issues might be the answer to your picky eater’s eating troubles.

Now for the fun part… what to pack?

banana roll ups

Menu Planning: Make a list of different preferred carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat choices and ask your child to choose one food in each category (ideally the options would be different for each day of the week). You are ultimately still choosing the foods available, but it will make them feel in control. Menu planning with your kids gets them involved with food, allowing them the opportunity to choose good nutrition.

Putting your Creativity to the Test: We most definitely utilize all of our senses when it comes to eating, but remember we tend to eat with our eyes first. Making your child’s lunch visually appealing can make all the difference, and this can be done in several different ways.

  • Start by letting your child pick out a cool and fun lunch box. Lunch boxes nowadays come in all different shapes and sizes. Compartments are awesome because it keeps foods from getting all mashed together. If your child’s lunchbox doesn’t have compartments already built in, consider purchasing separate lunch box containers that are likely to fit.
  • Think of different cookie cutter shapes you may already have on hand. You can transform a typical square sandwich into a star shaped one! Or add an artsy touch to cheese and whole grain crackers by cutting the cheese into flower shapes.
  • For a fun take on a traditional sandwich, try substituting bread with a tortilla or even apple slices! Elevate it with some nut butter and dried fruit or even some chocolate chips for a twist on your ordinary PB&J.
  • Vegetables can be souped up by adding a dip with them or adding nut butter and dried fruit- like “ants on a log”.
  • Kabobs can also be a fun option (using plastic coffee stirrers instead of skewers)- who doesn’t like food on a stick? Mix and match fruits and veggies with nitrate free cold cuts. For example: pineapple chunks with nitrate free ham, cherry tomatoes with nitrate free turkey, grapes with cheese squares and nitrate free chicken… the options are endless. Your son or daughter may have their own ideas for combinations, so don’t forget to ask them too!

With a little planning and creativity (and patience of course), you will give your child the opportunity to explore other food options in a positive way. Happy Lunch Packing!

school lunch

Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

For additional nutrition guidance for you and your family, sign up for a PreviMedica membership by contacting us at 855-773-8463 or by email at


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