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School lunch ideas for picky eaters

Molly Cerreta Smith loves writing about all things mommy, parenting, food, health and travel. When she's not staring into the face of her Mac, she loves to hike, read, do messy crafts with her kids and compete in BBQ competitions with he...

Brown bag sure things

Does the phrase "My child is such a picky eater" ring a bell? Collective sigh for all the parents out there who have crossed their fingers in hope as they sent their picky eaters off to school with a prepared lunch. To ensure your child comes home from school with an empty lunchbox and a full belly, try these inspired school lunch ideas for picky eaters.

Sandwiches in fun shapes

1It's all in the way you slice it

Interesting shapes make for an exciting lunchtime adventure. Your child could be bored with the shape of his food, which means he's less likely to want to eat it. Try cutting your child's food into fun shapes using cookie cutters. For sandwiches, use large cookie cutters, for vegetables, use smaller cookie cutters.

Click here for a fun sailboat sandwich recipe >>

2Sip it delicious

A healthy fruit smoothie doesn't have to be reserved for breakfast only, and it is a great way to load your child up with healthy nutrients and minerals. You can pack your child's smoothie full of milk, fruit, juice, yogurt, honey, peanut butter and even egg powder and wheat germ for added nutrients. Soups are also a fantastic way to get your child to "sip" a healthy lunch. Tomato soup, vegetable soup with pasta, and hearty whole grain rice and chicken soups are all great choices that aren't too intimidating for kids to sip. Many canned soups are loaded with sodium, however, so be sure to check the labels before purchasing canned soup. Homemade soups are easy and delicious, and making them yourself ensures you create a custom-made soup loaded with your child's favorite veggies.

Click here for an easy and healthy fruit smoothie >>

3Variety is the spice of life

Younger children hesitate to try new things, but the more often you introduce new foods, the more likely they will end up enjoying a wider variety of foods. When you pack your child's lunch, make sure to include variety. While it's easier to always include a banana in your child's lunch box because that's her favorite fruit, switch it up a few days a week with other healthy fruit snacks like sliced apples with cheese cubes or peanut butter.

There's nothing wrong with adding a little "incentive" to get your child to try new foods. When you send him off to school with his lunch, encourage him to eat -- or at least try -- everything that you packed. If he did so when he returns home from school, you can offer a little sweet treat, a trip to the park or an extra story before bedtime. Yes, this tip means you'll have to trust that your child it telling the truth... Ooooh, that's a toughie!

4Bite-sized bites

Give your little munchkin miniature-sized foods that are not only fun to look at, but fun to eat! Make mini-sandwich roll ups, pack some mini carrots or a mini box of yogurt-covered raisins, and make mini-cracker sandwiches by pasting together two Cheez-Its with a swipe of peanut butter or almond butter.

5Fun with noodles

What kid doesn't love noodles? Try mixing fun-shaped cooked noodles with various cheeses, vegetables, lean meats, even nuts, seeds and dried fruits for variety. Don't forget to choose whole-grain noodles or the hybrid variety that has the nutrition of whole grain pasta, but the taste, texture – and most importantly look – of white noodles.

Click here for a fun noodle salad recipe >>

More snacks and treats

7 After-school snack recipes with veggies
Top 10 Microwaveable after-school snacks
Back to school food dos and don'ts

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