How to Pack a Happy Lunch for a Picky Eater

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 Happy lunch for a picky eater

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I have an incredibly picky eater. When we lived in the UK, the school lunch meals were nearly all from scratch, and peer pressure was something that worked in our favor as Miss M would try things she normally would not touch, simply because her friends were happily eating it.

Fast forward to when we moved back to the US and my kids saw what made up a typical school lunch here, they opted for a packed lunch instead. While my son has a pretty varied diet, my daughter finally burned out on everything in her limited rotation, so when she returned to school in the fall, she decided she would eat school lunches.

 Unfortunately, this time around, peer pressure was my girl’s downfall, and looking at what she was choosing (and how quickly her lunch balance was depleted), it was clear she was making some really poor decisions in the lunch line.

We sat down, went through the lunch menu for an entire cycle, and noted which days she clearly didn’t like her options – those would be our packed lunch days. We had a long talk about which add-ons were better for her and which foods are not-so-great choices – and why.  The reality is that it can be tough to make the right choices at nine, particularly when faced with so much junk food along side a potentially unappealing hot lunch. She figured out that a packed lunch means she can eat exactly what, and how much, she wants.

It's hard at any age to make good food choices. Set guidelines for your kids & review their lunch purchase history. Click To Tweet

How to make lunch fun

Because I want her to learn to make better decisions, she now packs her own lunch (and I give it the final ok). The challenge with this, obviously, is making sure we have healthy lunch options on hand when we are only eating them once or twice a week. While we usually have fruit and veg in the house, we needed to shake things up a bit since she had grown tired of her old lunches, which, to be honest, rarely varied from day-to-day.

My goal was to make her packed lunch fun enough that she looked forward to them as much as she did the school lunches. While she is officially too big for sandwiches cut into cutesy shapes, she still loves notes. In the morning rush, I can forget to write one, so I made some printables that I can have at the ready and pop in when she isn’t looking.


You can download these yourself by clicking here!


Two things that have been added to her lunch rotation are Horizon® Kids Single Serve Milk Boxes and Horizon® Super Squeeze Pouches.  Since they are both shelf stable, I can add them to the refrigerator as needed, so I always have them on hand. She loves the taste of the milk boxes, because they are flavored with real ingredients: the chocolate with organic cocoa, and the vanilla with organic vanilla extract. I am happy to serve them to her because they are made without high fructose corn syrup, they are an excellent source of calcium and they have 8 grams of protein per box – and they make a terrific alternative to juice pouches.


(Because she isn’t a big meat eater we are always looking for alternate protein sources.)


When we first found the Super Squeeze fruit pouches at Walmart, we thought they were just another fruit and applesauce squeeze pouch – they are not! They’re made with real fruit and milk and are another excellent source of protein and calcium.

Horizon squeeze

The fact of the matter is, mornings are crazy here. I need choices on hand that she can choose that I can feel good about. And with an older brother with a huge appetite, well, those lunch options all too often become his snack options, so the fact that I can stock up on much of it keeps me sane. (I can’t seem to keep the Mixed Berry in the house.)


From peanut butter crackers to cheese sticks (or cheese in shapes), from Super Squeeze pouches to shelf-stable milk, what from the full range of Horizon® products at Walmart would your kids love?  Why – your lunchbox will practically pack itself!


  1. We love the horizon milk boxes – they are perfect for our family when we are on the run! #client

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