School Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters

school lunch ideas

School is back in session, and creating healthy school lunches can be daunting.  Especially, if you have a picky eater.  My grandchildren are both picky eaters.  When I’m visiting my grandchildren, I fix breakfast and lunches.  As a result, I have become a master at creating school lunch ideas for picky eaters.  My grandson has given me 5 years experience.  My granddaughter is just entering the first grade, and she is even more of a picky eater than her brother.  But, I’m no longer intimidated by “I don’t want that” or “I don’t like that.”

Also, I have found that if you involve your children in creating the lunches you can eliminate a lot of stress.  For example, take the kids to the groceries store with you.  Be sure to stay within your budget though.  The goal is to have them tell you want they want.  As a parent purchase what is healthy, but purchase a few items that they like too.  Most importantly, take a look at our school lunch ideas before you head to the grocery store.  Make a list of the school lunch ideas that you plan to purchase for your picky eater.

Becoming an expert required me to listen and pay attention.  For example, make a note of what’s left in your picky eater’s lunch bag.  Find out why they didn’t eat it.  There are times, the item wasn’t eaten because they were full from the other items.  The leftover items become an afterschool snack. Furthermore, you can eliminate an item from the menu the next time so they will eat everything.

So, for a week I had my grandson pack his own lunch.  I monitored what he was selecting, so I could make sure there was plenty on hand in the future.  I also monitored what wasn’t eaten. Most of the time, the fruit ended up being the left over. He does love bananas, so I make this particular fruit the go to for him.  But, my granddaughter loves bananas, oranges, apples and pears.


Main Meal Items 

  • Pepperoni Rolls
  • Bagel with Cream Cheese
  • Bagel with Peanut Butter
  • Lunchable Pizza Box
  • Ham and Cheese Rollup
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
  • Pepperoni/Salami Slices and Cheese
  • Tuna Sandwich
  • Ham & Cheese Sandwich
  • Turkey Sandwich
  • Pasta

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Celery with Ranch Dip
  • Peeled Clementines
  • Seedless Grapes
  • Celery with Peanut Butter
  • Apples with Peanut Butter
  • Banana and Strawberry Kabobs
  • Banana
  • Apple and Cheese Kabobs
  • Peach Slices
  • Carrot Sticks with Ranch Dip


  • Pretzels and Cheese
  • Go-gurt
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Chips/Popcorn
  • Cookies/Brownies
  • Trail Mix


  • Flavored Water
  • Capri Sun
  • Sunny D

school lunch ideasFurthermore, invest in a well insulated lunch bag.  Having a well insulated bag is key to implementing school lunch ideas successfully.  Nobody wants to eat foods that are supposed to be warm and they end up cold and vice versa.  Most importantly, this includes your picky eater.  That will be a perfect reason for your picky eater not to eat their lunch.

Last, you can download our School Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters printable here.   You may also like 12 Picky Eater Tips.