Fussy Eater Lunch Box Ideas for Kids

By Penelope Henderson, MSc, RNutr/ 09/07/2022
kids lunchbox ideas

Do you often find half eaten sandwiches in your kids lunchboxes or do you simply need a bit more inspiration for fussy eater lunch box ideas for your kids?

Having a fussy eater can make it even more challenging to find foods they will eat if they have a limited amount of foods in their diet. So I have come up with a variety of foods that are popular with most kids. However all kids are different in their level of fussiness and they are ways you can tweak or change some ingredients to suit your child. I have made some suggestions in this blog. 

This blog explores what to put into a packed lunch for a balanced lunch,  what can i pack for kids instead of sandwiches, some cold lunch ideas, healthy swaps and some great tips on how to make lunch boxes easier for kids to enjoy.

What should a picky eater pack for lunch?

It is important to make sure your providing them with the right nutrition by including the 5 food groups: 

  1. Starchy carbohydrates: potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, fortified breakfast cereals and other starchy carbohydrates and grains.
  2. Fruits & vegetables: fresh, or canned in juice all count. 
  3. Protein: beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat, tofu
  4. Dairy & alternatives: milk & dairy foods
  5. Oils and healthy fats.

If you include one food from each of the above food groups then it will make a balanced lunch. Fruit and vegetables can be more than one. If you would like further suggestions of each of these groups then check out my blog on How to make healthy lunchbox ideas for toddlers to delight them. 

It’s all very well having a balanced and nutritious lunch box but if they are fussy then making sure they have at least one – two foods they like you know they will eat something. 

Also make sure that any new foods you include are separate from the others so it doesnt put them off eating the foods they like. You could use little pots or silicone cases or paper bun cases to divide food up. 

paper cases are used for fussy eater lunchbox ideas for kids

Fussy eaters are all different in their taste preferences but they generally like foods kept simple. What I mean by that is keeping to simple no fuss cooking or non cooking is what they probably prefer. If you make elaborate salads and recipes then it is likely to be too much out of their comfort zone to try. 

If you would like a handy printable of 20 super foods for kids which fussy eaters will eat and how to transform them into meals then you might like to check this out below.

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What can you put in a lunchbox instead of a sandwich?

non sandwich lunchbox ideas for fussy eaters
no sandwich lunchbox ideas

If your fussy eater doesn’t like sandwiches then why not try these simple alternatives to sandwiches:

Serve dips with breadsticks or toasted pitta. Fussy eaters tend to prefer crunchy beige foods so these would work well with a dip.

  • Spring rolls 

Using filo pastry makes them nice and crisp when cooked which can be more appealing to fussy eaters. You could try these tuna filo parcels

  • Pastry

Pastry works well as an alternative to bread and often liked for its crispness. Puff pastry can be easily transformed into a base for toppings or rolled up into swirls. For example these pizza puff pinwheels

Adding some crispy croutons or cubes of crispbread alongside the soup can be great for dipping in the soup and makes it more appealing for fussy eaters.

  • Salads

If your child loves pasta then this makes a great base for a salad. Rice salad could also be another alternative. Try this savoury rice salad which could again be adapted with different vegetables. 

  • Quiche

Smaller or mini quiches are better for fussy eaters and lunchboxes as they will  be easier to eat. If they dont like pastry in quiches then try the crustless versions like these no pastry mini mushroom quiches Not sure about the mushrooms, then swap out for another vegetable like peas, broccoli or sweetcorn.

  • Pizza 

Pizza is usually a go to choice for fussy eaters, so for a quick version you can try pitta pizza which is made from pitta bread as a base and then toppings of your choice.

pitta pizza is a fussy eater lunch box idea for kids
  • Savoury muffins or buns 

These are great to make for lunch boxes as they have the cake-like appeal!

You could try these pea and courgette buns

  • Fritters 

Fritters or savoury pancakes are great for those fussy eaters that aren’t so keen on lumps or vegetables. Try these broccoli, spinach and cheese fritters or swap broccoli and spinach for courgette or sweetcorn. 

Cold lunch ideas for kids

  • Wraps

Which could include various fillings like chicken and avocado, cheese and salad, egg and cress, tuna and peppers. 

  • Pinwheel sandwiches such as smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • Sandwiches

There are so many type of bread you can use with different grains in. From white to wholemeal, seeded, breads with nuts, dried fruits and so on. If your fussy eater is like mine and prefers the bread toasted. I sometimes deconstruct the sandwich and give toasted bread with a piece of cheese or other protein separately. 

If your going to fill the sandwiches then fillings can be similar to the wrap fillings suggested above.

  • Muffins

These could be savoury or sweet or a combination of both. I love these breakfast muffins that contain yoghurt, oats and banana. 

  • Potato cakes

You can buy ready made potato farls or cakes and accompany these with some protein like cheese or lean meat cooked meat.

  • Crackers 
crackers and cheese is a fussy eater lunch box ideas for kids

Crackers are a clear favourite cold easy lunch food. There are also many different types you can buy from plain water biscuits, crackers containing cheese and seeded crackers and so on.  Serve them with cheese slices or cubes and some crunchy vegetables. 

How to make packed lunches they will eat

Not only the food is important for fussy eaters but also the presentation and other ways to help them eat their lunch. Here are some other fussy eater lunch box ideas for kids.

Make or chop into smaller pieces

For example sandwiches can be cut into four triangles or finger stripsto make it easier to eat.

Use foods that are easy to chew

Kids dont have alot of time to eat lunch at school so ensuring they have food they can easily and quickly chew and eat will mean the more they are likely to eat. For example, lots of carrots or chewy meat are harder to chew. 

Add some fun stickers or other decorations

Add some fun stickers as a fussy eater lunch box idea for kids

You can also add some fun stickers or other decorative items to your lunchbox. These little touches can help your children feel more excited about what’s inside.

You could also add stickers like faces to sandwich bags to make it more fun and appealing.

Get them to help make the lunchbox

If your child is old enough they could be involved in making part or all the lunchbox. They are more likely to make it how they want and eat it.

Use a colourful or themed lunchbox

This will make the food more appealing if sitting in a colourful box. If you dont have a colourful lunchbox you can use a tupperware box and use colourful silicone cases to divide foods up. 

Can you put crisps in a packed lunch?

Yes you can put crisps into a packed lunchbox but its not advisable as a regular thing due to their high saturated fat and salt content. You might like to consider some other crunchy alternatives which go down just as well such as:

  • Popcorn (plain or a little cinnamon)
  • Breadsticks
  • Crackers
  • Crispbreads made with different flours like rye or oat.
  • Oatcakes
  • Roasted chickpeas in olive oil


When thinking about fussy eater lunch box ideas for kids, its not just about food ideas but also how to make it appealing and easier for them to eat it. Those tips I shared will hopefully bring back empty lunch boxes.

If you struggle to get your child to eat more variety and would like some support then I offer a free clarity call to see how I can support you. Click on the button below to get started.



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Author Penelope Henderson

Hi I’m Penelope Henderson RNutr Registered Nutritionist specialising in children’s nutrition and responsive feeding therapy.

I am a mum of 2, with over 15 years of experience in nutrition. I support parents to feel confident in how and what to feed their child. I hope you find my recipes and nutrition posts useful, so you can enjoy stress free cooking and mealtimes.

More about me

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