Kids and picky eating go hand-in-hand. It's in their DNA. For the most part, moms can usually handle all of the tantrums and sleepless nights that their kids throw at them. But there is nothing that can drive a mom wild like her kid refusing food or only eating the parts they want out of a meal. It's beyond stressful wondering if your kid is getting the nutrition they need.
Thankfully, there are ways to make lunchtime fun for your kids. Some things that typically help include getting them more involved with picking out their snacks, and anything that makes things more fun and different. Instead of a regular old sandwich, try adding fun faces or stickers. There's so much you can do to get them pumped up about eating, and it doesn't have to take up too much of your time.
People can hate on the internet as much as they want, but you have to admit - it's extremely helpful, especially when it comes to sharing ideas about raising kids. Millions of women share their creative hacks and ideas all the time, and it's pretty amazing. Seriously, thank you Pinterest! Let's take a look at 20 lunchbox hacks to get a picky eater eating.
20 Build Your Own Tacos
How clever is this? It's the perfect way to get your kids involved with lunch. Allowing them to create their own tacos makes them feel like they have a choice in what their eating and how they want to eat it. Plus, it helps keep the ingredients fresh when they're all separated. Imagine how soggy those taco shells would have been if they were already filled with cheese and beans.
This is a perfect lunchbox idea for a picky eater who doesn't like their food touching and wants to do things their way. In fact, I would be happy with this meal if the portions were a little bigger.
19 Create A Cute Face With Sandwich Toppings
You can easily add a little pizzazz to your kid's lunch by making smiley faces with their sandwich toppings. Some picky kids might change their mind about eating a "yucky sandwich" if it's made into something fun and unique!
Heck, even if they take the sandwich apart and eat the ingredients separately, it's still a win. If they want to eat the smile before moving on to the eyes, I would call that a win. As long as they're eating, we don't worry ourselves too much with the order. Allowing them to create their own faces by having the ingredients cut up in their lunchbox seems effective as well.
18 Chicken Nugget Thermos Hack
This hack comes to us from a blog called Working Mother. This mama has found that if you add warm chicken nuggets to a bed of paper towels in a thermos, it not only keeps the nuggets warm all the way to lunchtime, but it keeps them from becoming soggy with condensation. What a genius!
Kids don't always have a way to heat up their lunch, or they might not want to deal with the hassle. And honestly, no one likes soggy chicken nuggets, not even adults. Chicken nuggets are a favorite in my house, and I can't wait to give this a try for myself.
17 Frozen Fruit Yogurt Snacks
These frozen yogurt fruit snacks look delicious. Really, I would eat that up! They're colorful, sweet, and bite-sized. And to top it all off - it's easy to make. Sounds like a win-win for the parents and the kids.
If I had more time, I would make all sorts of adorable lunchbox meals. Unfortunately, it just doesn't come high on my list of things to do. I'm thankful for tricks like this because unlike some of the other hacks, it truly is easy to throw together. When you're desperate to get your child to eat some fruit and yogurt, but you need something quickly, give this trick a try.
16 Keep Things Separated
Keeping things separated in your kid's lunchbox is important. If you throw all of the ingredients in there willy-nilly, it can overwhelm them. My husband has had to come to terms with this. Just because children are messy eaters doesn't mean you can present their meals in a messy way.
They're much more likely to eat when they can easily tell what they're looking at, and everything is cut and separated into little compartments. If you don't have enough tiny containers, you can always use muffin cups. Amazon even has some silicone muffin cups, so you can just wash and reuse them.
15 DIY Pizza
Another "DIY" lunch idea from Brit.co: Make your own pizza! Similar to the Lunchables Pizza, this meal tends to be a favorite among kids. They don't usually care if the cheese is melted or not, and since their palettes are still being developed, they're totally cool with just some marinara sauce and pepperoni.
It's easy to put together and your kids are sure to eat them. It probably won't be the cleanest meal they eat, but when you're struggling to find meals your kid likes, you'll take what you can get. I'll certainly be trying this one out soon. Fingers crossed!
14 Use Stickers
Yes, for some kids, it really is this easy. Add some cute stickers to the plastic wrap surrounding their food and it's instantly edible! It's crazy how that works. Don't ask me, I don't make the rules.
Who knew adding some stickers of eyes and mouths could have such an impact on the deliciousness of a meal. I'm just about ready to try anything at this point though, and I feel like my son senses it. Guess I'll be buying some stickers very soon. The mama who came up with this hack is a genius. I feel silly for not thinking of it myself! It's so simple, but so overlooked and under appreciated.
13 Wrap Sliced Apples So They Don't Turn Brown
No one wants to eat a brown apple. I don't even want it after it turns brown, even though I know it's completely fine! So I understand where kids are coming from when it comes to this. To keep your cut apple slices fresh, immediately wrap them in saran wrap, or bind them together with a rubber band.
It decreases the amount of oxygen that hits the open parts, which makes it stay fresh longer. I've also heard you can squeeze a little lemon or lime juice on the parts that were cut, and that decreases the amount of brownness that occurs as well. Of course, your child might not like the sour taste of lemon.
12 PB&J Sushi
This is such a fun way to spice up the boring ol' pb&j. Rolling the read and cutting into sushi-looking bite-size pieces can make your kids excited about eating their sandwich, even if they're already had it several times that month.
Remember, the presentation is everything!
The chopsticks are a fun touch, too. Anything that makes things fun, interesting, and new for your kid is a good thing. The same exact ingredients, cut up differently with some chopsticks in the bag are all it takes. This works on even the most stubborn, picky eaters out there. This is a total mom win!
11 Make Shapes With Cookie Cutters
This is yet another adorable idea from a blog called One Crazy House. This mom is rocking the lunch game, that's for sure. I'm not sure where she picked up on all of these cute hacks, but I'm in love.
She manages to take something as simple as bread and cheese, and make it into a fun masterpiece that kids are sure to love. Seriously, I bet her packed lunches rarely get turned down. This might look like it's just too much to do, or you might be thinking "why bother?"
Let me tell you - if it works, it's worth the extra 3 minutes it takes you to use cookie cutters and arrange the cheeses and bread in a cute way.
10 Banana Notes
You can use a toothpick to write cute little messages to your kids on the skin or their bananas. It's thoughtful and quick to do, and it's sure to brighten their day. Well, depending on their age of course. If you start too young, they might think something is wrong with the banana and refuse to eat it.
If they're too old, your sweet notes might embarrass them and make them not want to take the banana out of their peers. But if your kid is at that perfect, sweet age where they appreciate things like this, give it a try!
9 Cute Caterpillar Grapes
How adorable are these caterpillar grapes? You get extra bonus points if your kid is learning about bugs or the lifecycle of a butterfly. Seriously, how creative!
Simply take a skewer and line the grapes upon it. You can add eyes with a touch of icing and a mini chocolate chip. Just make sure you pat the area dry before applying the icing, or the eyes will slide right off. Then your kid is left with a bunch of grapes on sticks. I guess that's still pretty creative and fun, right? Maybe a little weird, but not any stranger than cheese hearts or pb&j sushi.
8 Seal Sauces With Press 'N Seal Plastic Wrap
One of the most common problems with packing lunches is how in the heck to keep sauces where you want them. Little containers can pop open, compartments in pre-made plastic lunch cases can spill out everywhere when turned sideways. Your kids will not be impressed or amused if they open up their lunch and see sauce splattered all over everything.
And you'll probably be peeved too since you carefully rolled out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and measured out different fruits and vegetables. If you add some press 'n seal plastic wrap to the top of the condiment compartment, it won't spill anywhere! That stuff is surprisingly strong.
7 ... Or Use An Old Contact Lens Case
Another clever hack for keeping your kid's condiments from spilling all over the place - using an old contact lens case! Can you say genius? The tops screw on, so they won't just pop open while being carried around throughout the day.
They're pretty cheap too, and you get buy them just about anywhere. Even better, you won't even be upset when your kids inevitably lose them. You can easily get more!
This mom knows her stuff, clearly. Thank you once again Krazy Coupon Lady. I don't know what we would do without you. Say goodbye to ketchup covered lunch bags and stained clothes.
6 DIY Snack Station
Any time you can involve your kids in the lunch packing process, they'll probably be more excited about it. You'll have to set limits of course. You give kids an inch and they'll take a mile. As long as you have rules in place, they'll be excited about picking out their own lunch snacks every day, and they won't overeat either.
How cute is this setup, too? Having everything out on display makes it even more fun. Of course, they're likely to raid the shelf, but it's good to teach them about nutrition from a young age. This opens to door to teaching them about moderation while giving them choices in what they get to eat.
5 Butterfly Snacks
I'm sure you've seen this trick before. It's one of the more time-consuming hacks, but if you ever find yourself with a moment to spare, it's worth the smile you'll get from your kids. Just grab some markers, googly eyes and pipe cleaners, and you can transform a boring clothespin into a magical, colorful butterfly!
It's also an effective way to pack two different snacks into one Ziploc bag. I know when I was young, I was really picky about my food touching. I would have appreciated the gesture very much. And what little girl doesn't love butterflies? This one is a winner.
4 Keep Chips From Getting Crushed
I honestly had never seen this hack before writing this article. I feel like I've been living life all wrong. It makes total sense! Everyone complains about all of the air in chip bags, but it's the only thing keeping them from getting crushed during delivery. So, of course, it makes sense to add some air to the bags of chips we pack for lunch.
I can't tell you how many times I've opened up my lunch only to find a bag of crumbs. It's extremely disappointing. I tried it out the other day and it worked like a charm!
3 Easter Egg Fun
Even when it's not Easter, there's no denying that the little plastic eggs are fun. They're colorful, they open up to show yummy little goodies on the inside. What's not to love? In fact, we still have some hanging out in our house because my son plays with them all year long.
So why not add snacks inside some easter eggs while packing your kids' lunch. They won't care whether it's April or not, they'll just be excited that they opened up something different and fun.
P.S. - On your kids birthday, you should try wrapping their food in wrapping paper. How fun!
2 Make Utensils More Fun
The Krazy Coupon Lady suggests adding washi tape to the utensils in your kids' packed lunch. It's doesn't technically change anything about their meal at all, but come on. Look how much cuter they look now! I would assume this would mostly make lunches more fun for girls typically, but boys might want cute utensils too.
This is just another way to add some fun to your child's meal without wasting too much time. Be careful though, once you start, your kids might get disappointed if you forget one day. Why are they so touchy and specific? It's a good thing we love them so much!
1 Use A Straw To Get Rid Of Strawberry Cores
Some kids just cannot stand the cores of strawberries, and cutting them all out by hand is a pain. Well, you can use a straw to push the core out! I don't know how this mama came up with this hack, but it's a game changer.
No more tediously cutting up strawberries and throwing out more than you need to. Just get a pack of straws and you'll save a ton of time (and food). If your child doesn't like holes in their strawberries, well, that's up to you to figure out. Something tells me they'll be happy there are just no weird white parts in it.