10 simple ways to get the school lunchbox eaten

Updated: Mar 30

Does this sound familiar... you've made a lunchbox worthy of a magazine cover. It’s got all the favourites plus some options guaranteed to be ignored but that make us feel better.

Dashing to the school gates in the afternoon we spot our child and breathlessly ask what they’ve eaten. Deer in the headlight eyes stare back, then the head drops, the shoulders sag and we realise without looking that we have a boomerang box. Again.

Not eating lunch is a common problem and not just for children who are picky or have issues eating. Many children are too busy playing, socialising or just lose track of the eating window and suddenly lunchtime is over, and the box returns to the bag largely neglected.

There are some things to consider that can improve eating for children at all stages of the eating competency spectrum.

Some are simple and obvious and yet can still impact either negatively or positively on how our children eat:

1. Away from home the more familiar foods are the more likely to get eaten.

The lunchbox is not the place for learning. For anxious eaters, road testing anything new at home prior to sending to school supports a smoother experience.

2. Having the food in easy to open and familiar containers scaffolds eating.

Not being able to confidently open packaging on their own may mean it gets returned to the box. Using simple marketing strategies like adding a favourite sticker on a pot or the skin of a banana, for example, can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

3. Ticking boxes for our child in terms of temperature, taste and texture.

Hot or cold can be a make or break as can foods that are too squishy or not crunchy or are a new flavour. Working with our child and providing food that is within their specific parameters, as best as practicable, supports better results.