#Back-to-School Picky Eater Lunch Packing Blues

It’s back-to-school time – that time of year for lots of great blog posts with suggestions for making healthy school lunches. Pictures accompanying these articles run the gamut from ultra-Pinteresty to simple suggestions for quick and healthy lunches. And for just a fleeting moment, these posts make me feel … hopeful. “This year will be different,” I think. But the tug of reality wakes me from my daydream, because one of my children is a PICKY EATER of epic proportion. And I don’t throw the phrase “epic proportion” out there lightly. She’s a trifecta of picky – taste, texture, and tenacious.


I look longingly at pictures of Bento boxes filled with pita pockets, hummus, carrot sticks, and sliced kiwi. I WANT to be that mom – the one whose lunches inspire envy from the other moms volunteering in the cafeteria.

Before you write well-meaning tips in the comment section, I’ve tried. I’ve really tried. To the moms who have fought this battle and won, you all are my heroes. For those of you who might suggest that my child will eventually eat her healthy lunch rather than starve, see “tenacious” above. My Picky Eater has a twin sister who has always had a wide palate. Watching her sister enjoy healthy, new foods allows me to conclude that it’s nature, not nurture (read not my fault). Just ask any formerly smug mom whose second or third or fourth child turns his nose up to foods that his siblings devoured.


I tried a new approach this year. I asked her (in my best casual, not desperate voice), “What suggestions do you have for your lunches this year?” Determined not to accept either her smarty pants answer of “ice cream” or her unhelpful “I don’t know,” I probed further. Like a detective, I asked, “Will you eat a sandwich this year?” “No,” she said immediately and decisively. Even her sister tried, reminding her that she ate a sandwich on vacation and asking what kind it was. “Peanut butter,” said Picky Eater. But she quickly added, “but that was special Louisiana peanut butter.” I kept trying.

Me, “Bagel and cream cheese?” Her, “I only like toasted bagels that are warm.”

Me, “Turkey roll ups?” Her, “What KIND of turkey?” Me, “Any kind you will eat.” Her, “Maybe.

Me, “Cheese quesadillas?” Her, “No, those are gross cold.”

Me, “Apples?” Her (hesitating), “Only if they are Honeycrisp.”

Me, “Mac ‘n cheese in a thermos?” Her, “No, because you remember that time in Kindergarten when you sent mac ‘n cheese in a thermos and the thermos still had soap film in it? Since then, I can’t eat out of a thermos.” Me, “Are you kidding me? That was six years ago! Are you ever going to get past that?” Her, “Nope.”

That last exchange almost did me in, but I’m not giving up. I’m not easily defeated.

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