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Does that bland turkey sandwich keep coming back half-eaten in your kid’s lunchbox? When the pickiest eater in your home has grown tired of their go-to, it’s time to shake things up. Coming up with creative school lunches that they’ll actually like can feel daunting, but we’ve got your back with exciting sandwiches, comforting pasta dishes and more that they’re sure to gobble up. Think chicken salad-stuffed peppers, BLT pasta salad, hummus wraps and beyond. Read on for 65 easy, kid-friendly school lunch ideas that will put the cafeteria’s food to shame.
Tips for Packing School Lunches
Just like when you’re cooking for adults, presentation is everything.(Don’t just take our word for it—it’s a tried-and-true trick Dictator Lunches author Jenny Mollen has used to get her kids to expand their horizons: "I’ve found that if I can entertain them, surprise them or even simply make them giggle, I instantly up my odds for success," she writes.) Here are a few pointers for packing a lunch your picky eater is bound to love:
- Start with a fun-yet-functional lunchbox. We love bento-style lunchboxes that keep all their snacks organized. Some metal ones even come with fun magnets that the kids can play with while they eat.
- Try a few low-effort tricks to turn meals into surprise-and-delight moments. For instance, rolling their sandwich and cutting it into pinwheels, skewering their fruit salad on toothpicks or using rice molds to shape grains into something fun can encourage kids to give something new a try. (Even just a Sharpie face on a package of string cheese can go a surprisingly long way.)
- Let them help choose and make their lunch. Whether it’s spreading cream cheese on a bagel or sprinkling Parmesan on pasta, kids love getting their hands dirty. And if they see dumping croutons into a salad as a fun activity, they just might be more willing to actually eat the salad.