Why Won’t My Child Eat Their Packed Lunch? (Written by a grown-up fussy eater)

by CARRIE FELTON

It’s happened again. Another day, another lunch box that comes home with uneaten food, another tired, cranky kid who’s barely eaten since breakfast. 

“Why didn’t you eat your lunch?”

“Because it’s yucky.”

Starting daycare, kinder or school is an exciting time for a little person and their family, however it brings its own unique challenges — a big one is food.

Having a meal in unfamiliar surroundings is one thing, but there’s also the problem of how to pack food ahead of time that you know they’ll enjoy, that will stay fresh, colourful and healthy until lunchtime. 

Cut-up sandwiches can dry out, yoghurt can become warm and sour, strawberries and kiwi fruit can become soggy, and veggie sticks go limp. It’s no wonder that fussy eaters will go on strike when it’s lunchtime!

It’s important to find a solution to stop both you and them from giving up and turning to unhealthy packaged snacks full of sugar and preservatives.

Bento boxes are a great way to teach kids about healthy eating and looking after the planet by reducing waste. It’s estimated that the average packed lunch for school-aged kids generates about three bits of litter every day, which adds up to 30kg of rubbish over a year — more than many children weigh!

Using an airtight silicone-sealed bento box means the peels, skins and rinds of food act as a natural wrapper, and you can place them into the box already cut up without worrying about them staying fresh.

If your child doesn’t like sandwiches, you don’t have to have sandwiches! 

A sandwich usually offers a combination of starch (like bread), protein (like ham, tuna or tofu), a vegetable (like lettuce or carrot), and dairy (like cheese) that meets the recommendations of the healthy food pyramid. You can easily give your child the same nutritional balance that a sandwich has by combining individual foods in a bento box. 

This is particularly good for kids who don’t like foods touching each other, as a bento box allows you to pack a varied meal like pretzels, hummus, strawberries, cold meat, yoghurt, and cheese without any of the foods contaminating each other. Make sure to check your school or kinder’s nut policy before packing potential allergens like peanut butter.

It’s a great idea to include your child in actually packing their lunch. This way, they are taking ownership of what’s going in the bento, they know what to expect, and they are more likely to eat it.

The great thing about a bento box is it can be used outside of kinder or school — like on picnics and day trips, or even as a divided plate at home! We recommend combining our airtight bento boxes with both an insulated cooler bag and a frozen cold pack for the ultimate freshness.

Still not sure what to pack? Keep an eye out for a post on easy-to-pack lunches for fussy eaters.

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