How To Get Kids To Eat Their School Lunches

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packing a lunchbox

Are you having trouble getting your kids to eat their school lunches?  Does your kids lunch come home untouched? Do the kids only nibble some of their school lunch? Have you caught your kids secretly throwing their lunchbox contents in the trash?

If you simply want your kids to eat a normal lunch and hate the idea of wasting food, read on.  If you follow these tips, your kids will finally be eating their school lunches!

School Lunch Box Strategy #1: Pack Only The Food That Kids Like

If your kids like chicken nuggets, but you are packing tofu and broccoli instead, don’t be surprised if their lunch is not eaten :)

Make a list of all of the lunch main dishes that your kids LIKE and EAT, and only pack what’s on that list.

School Lunch Box Strategy #2: Only Pack One Food Option

If you send a lunch box full of options, only one thing (usually the least healthy one) will be eaten, and the rest of the food will be wasted.

Send only one thing for each meal.  For example, if you child is having 2 meals at school (snack and lunch), send only one type of food for snack (for example grapes) and one type of food for lunch (for example pizza).

If you only need to pack lunch (and NOT a snack), then don’t pack any snack foods – just the main lunch entree, for example a sandwich.

On the picture on top of this post, pay attention to the lunchbox: it only has 2 things: (1) cheese quesadilla (the lunch entree my son really likes) (2) drink.  In his preschool, the school provides the snack, so I only need to pack lunch.  So just the lunch it is – nothing extra :) Everything in this lunchbox will be eaten!

School Lunch Box Strategy #3: The Only Kind Of Snack Is Fruit

When you need to pack a snack, only pack the fruit.  It can be any kind of fruit, as long as your child likes it.  Don’t pack candy, crackers or any other junk packaged food.

The junk food will just spoil the kids’ appetite, so they won’t be hungry for the actual lunch.  The fruits don’t have that effect – after eating a fruit for a snack, kids usually still want to eat their lunch.

School Lunch Box Strategy #4: Plan The Week’s Lunches Together With Your Kids

If your kids complain about the lunches that you pack, have THEM plan out the week’s worth of lunches with you. Show them the list of all available lunch options, and have THEM pick out the 5 lunches for the upcoming week.  Write down their choices, and pack exactly those choices.

Now, if there is any complaining, you can say “Remember, you and I sat down together and came up with this menu, and YOU approved it”.  I guarantee that you won’t hear the complaining again :)

If you are running low on the ideas on what to pack for lunch, check out my list of school lunch box ideas that most kids actually like and eat!

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  1. Love all your tips, my daughter used to give most of hers away to her friends. So I kept packing more until I figured it out, lol.

  2. Great tips on lunches. My oldest son is not having lunch at school yet but he complains that snack time is so short and I’m putting too many kinds… I am going to just put one snack that he’ll for sure eat – like crackers. He can eat yogurt and fruits at home. I just “hope” that he’d eat everything…haha.

  3. Super ideas. I’m actually sad that next year I won’t be packing any more school lunches as my youngest graduates~

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