Don’t expect too much from your child and definitely don’t try too many new things in the lunchbox at any one time. Children are all different and some will be more likely to try foods in front of their peers where there’s no parental pressure, but for most if they open it up and are faced with lots of new foods, they may feel overwhelmed and end up eating very little. Try to work on the principle that if most of the food items are ‘safe’ foods that your child will eat then one new food can be added and if it’s eaten that’s great. If it’s not, you’re not going to be stressing and your child is not going to spend the afternoon hungry and unable to concentrate.
When dealing with a fussy eater, their involvement is such an important part of encouraging more variety, so get them involved right from the off. Sit down together and have a look online or in cookbooks at different lunch options so that they can help you to plan out what they’ll be having for the next week or two. Older children can help to write a list and younger children can help to pick things out in the supermarket that will be specifically destined for their lunch box. It’s important when you’re going through this process that children feel in control so try to avoid guiding them towards things that you want them to have!
If you think outside of the box (pun intended!) you can get adventurous and still stick with the foods that your child enjoys. For example: does your child prefer hot food? If your school allows it get a child’s food flask and put leftover dinner in it as it’ll still be hot at lunchtime. Do they like constructing things themselves? Put the components of a sandwich in and let them make them themselves in their own way.
Get a new lunchbox. One with compartments are ideal for younger children as you can choose a good selection of different foods in small portions so there’s plenty of variety for them to choose from. Boxes such as yumbox are leakproof so you can include foods such as yoghurt, houmous or even dips such as ketchup which can make lunch seem a bit more exciting! This also caters to fussy children that do not like their lunchbox items to be touching, which is quite common behaviour.
Make it attractive
Try to make lunchbox items as appealing as possible. This might sound obvious, but so often kids’ lunches are warm, squashed or damp by lunchtime. So invest in some little tupperwares or freezer bags to keep food dry, put an ice pack or frozen drink in to keep items cold and get a hard box rather than a soft one that can be sat or trodden on to keep lunch looking and tasting as it should!
Avoid the norm
Finally, there’s so many options that are as quick and easy as sandwiches without you having to spend hours cooking or being a ‘Pinterest mum’. There’s lots of simple options that can be slightly more exciting than your average sandwich crisps and fruit that might suit your child. Here are a few suggestions to give you some inspiration:
Bagels, wraps, English muffins, pittas, rolls, pasta (cold or hot) or gnocchi with sauces such as pesto, tuna mayo, tomato or cheese, rice salad, sausage/cheese/veggie rolls, puff pastry tart, quiche, omelette fingers and any leftovers you can think of!
Good luck with the return to school and I hope lunchboxes are less stress this year.
Lucy runs Teeny Weanies to help ensure parents feel confident that they are providing their children with the best nutritional start in life.
Sign up to her regular newsletter or attend a weaning course - there are still places available on here fussy eating workshop on the 16th September so call to book your place now.
Read more about Teeny Weanies here.
T: 07825 703221