'I'm a child food expert: here's how to pack lunches for fussy eaters'

The kids have been back to school for a month now, and you may already be running out of fun packed lunch ideas to encourage them to eat. If your little one is a fussy eater, the task will be even harder. We’ve enlisted the help of Hanna Dilley, founder of toddler food brand, Benji’s Bites, for the ultimate top tips on how to pack the perfect lunch for your fussy eater…

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According to recent research by leading retailer, PoundToy, an average of 65,000 internet users have been searching for ‘kids lunch ideas’ over the last month, while 1,500 have been searching for ‘kids packed lunches’.

READ: Jamie Oliver’s 5 quick and easy Back to School lunch ideas for kids

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Make lunch interesting for your kids with a fancy lunchbox or bag 

Hanna says: “Giving your child a packed lunch is a great opportunity to provide them with a variety of foods and ensure they’re eating a balanced lunch. However, for fussy eaters, you may find yourself stuck in a rut and giving them the same packed lunch every day as you know they’ll eat it. It’s all about creating excitement and fun and making them want to open their lunch box daily and enjoy their food.”

Top tips for making packed lunches for fussy eaters

1. Give them some choice

Children are more likely to eat their food if they feel they’ve had some involvement. Take them shopping so they can help choose what goes in their lunchbox (within reason!) and let them choose each day.

2. Mix it up

Don’t let them get bored with the same packed lunch every day. Alternate sandwiches with pastry pinwheels, pasta or noodle salads, dinner leftovers, falafel and savoury muffins. Mix up the sandwich fillings too.

3. Make it fun

Try to add interesting colours and shapes to keep them engaged and interested. Cut sandwiches into shapes or do things like drawing a face on a satsuma skin.

4. Use fun containers

Make it more interesting for them to eat out of. Get a lunchbox that has lots of little compartments/tubs, so it looks enticing, and they get to explore their box.

5. Add a surprise

Add a daily treat each day (can be a healthy one), but don’t tell your child. Let them have the excitement of finding out what it is when lunchtime rolls around.

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Mix it up to stop lunches from feeling boring 

6. Don’t overpack the lunchbox

It might overwhelm some fussy eaters. Plus, they’ll always just pick out their favourite items and leave the things they don’t want.

READ: 5 fun and healthy lunchbox ideas kids will love

7. Introduce new foods slowly

Add a small amount of something new in the lunchbox, alongside familiar, safe foods and they’ll be more likely to try it.


8. Give them something to aim for

At Benji’s Bites, we use an ‘Eat the Rainbow’ chart to encourage little ones to eat a variety of fruit and veg. The aim is to tick off as many colours of the rainbow each day. See how many you can get into their lunchbox.

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9. Plan in advance

When possible, make a lunchbox plan for the week. This way it’s easier to add in the variety and fun aspects, you can buy the right ingredients and it saves you panicking at the last minute and resorting to the same old sandwich.

10. Add some love

Pop a little note inside their lunchbox, from you to them, to give them a little something extra to look forward to at lunchtime. Send a simple message like ‘I’m proud of you’, ‘Have a great day’, or draw a little picture if they can’t read yet. Frankie Bridge writes inspirational notes on her boys’ bananas to show them how much she cares – why not steal her bright idea?

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