4 Fast Lunch Ideas for Picky Kids

posted: 07/21/15
by: Blythe Copeland

Lunch seems like it should be the easiest meal of the day: You aren't fighting the craziness of the morning routine or the hectic after-work rush, and what could be simpler than throwing together a sandwich? But for parents of picky eaters, it's not always that fast. If your kids are turning down your go-to midday meals, change up the routine with these kid-friendly ideas to get them eating again.

1. DIY Lunchables

crackers with heart-shaped cheese
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Heart-shaped cheese on crackers.

2. Breakfast for Lunch

If you're used to making quick breakfasts for hurried mornings getting out of the house, then you already have a stockpile of recipes that are perfect for a fast lunch (and that you know your kids will eat). Serve up yogurt with granola and fresh berries or bananas; a bowl of cereal with fruit and a side of peanut butter toast; scrambled eggs (with or without diced veggies); and frozen waffles, pancakes, or muffins toasted and topped with nut butter and fruit or jelly.

scrambled eggs on toast
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Scrambled eggs on baguette toast.

3. Muffin-Tin Meals

Picky eaters may not be willing to try foods that are out of their comfort zone -- but if you make mini versions of grown up favorites in a muffin tin, the kid-friendly size might just make them change their mind. Try meatloaf, cheeseburgers, pizzas, taco macaroni and cheese, sloppy joes, baked potatoes, or chicken pot pies (all on this list from I Heart Arts 'n' Crafts). Though these aren't exactly quick to throw together at the last minute, they are easy to make in bulk ahead of time and reheat in just a few minutes throughout the week when you need them.

baked zucchini muffins
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Savory, lunch-worthy muffins.

4. Healthy Dips

Some picky eaters are the type to refuse all sauces -- but many other kids will eat just about anything if they have the opportunity to dip it. Keep a stock of healthy dips in your fridge to make routine meals a little more interesting: Hummus, low fat salad dressing, or Greek yogurt for vegetables, pretzels, or crackers; plain yogurt for fruit slices; tomato sauce (instead of ketchup) for chicken fingers, roasted potatoes, or grilled cheese triangles; salsa or black bean dip for quesadillas or corn chips. Just don't be surprised if your little one makes up his own combinations that sound a little unappetizing to you (like a chicken quesadilla dipped in strawberry yogurt or pretzels in pasta sauce).

veggies arranged around a dip dish
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Veggies with a kid-worthy dip.