· By Julia Boase

What Are Your Lunch Box Dilemmas?

Feeding kids is hard, but lunchboxes come with their own set of unique dilemmas don’t they?


Right now my kids are 15, 13, 10 and 7 and each throws me unique challenges when it comes to packing their lunches each day. Maybe you thought as a paediatric dietitian I could escape unscathed, but no, I too have had my fair share of feeding challenges, I just have a few strategies to deal with them, and know when to worry and when not to.


For my teens, the issue is that they don’t want to sit down to eat at school. They also want more packet food and canteen items because their friends have them. I balance this by offering more packet foods along with homemade items. We do canteen on Fridays to keep costs down, and I pack easy-to-eat lunches like a chicken schnitzel, mozzarella, and lettuce roll.

My 10-year-old has Eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic condition. Because of this, he developed a habit of not eating at school to manage his symptoms. I still send him a lunchbox, but I don’t pressure him to eat, and I’ve asked his teacher not to either. He eats a lot before and after school and has a varied diet, so I know he’s getting the nutrition he needs.

My 7-year-old is the pickiest. She likes bland, starchy foods and often asks for plain pasta. Her lunchbox includes a range of food groups, but she usually eats the crunchy, starchy ones. I make sure she gets enough fibre with smoothies after school and higher fibre bread.

In my 20 years as a paediatric dietitian, I’ve seen parents worry about their child’s lunchbox. Here are some common concerns and tips to help manage them. If you’re worried about your child’s eating, seeing an Accredited Practising Dietitian can be reassuring and helpful.


1. Eats nothing to very little at school 

 Quick things to check - Are you sending too much food? This can be over whelming and lead to kids eating less. Are you sending too many non familiar foods? Is the food too hard to eat? (read this - The Child That Always Come Home With A Full Lunch Box)


2. Likes the same thing every day


Generally I don’t worry about this one too much if they otherwise have a varied diet and the child isn’t overly food neophobic (fear of new food). In a busy and often anxiety provoking school day, a sense of predictability and sameness with the lunchbox can be reassuring. Parents tend worry about kids getting bored, but for the most part many kids enjoy predictability. 


3. Doesn’t eat any protein at school 

I hear from many parents that their kids don’t like luncheon meats such as roast chicken, tuna etc and they worry they’re not getting enough protein. The first thing I point out is that Aussie kids tend to get more than enough protein across their whole day. Yes protein can help fill kids up, but if they won’t eat it at school, there will be plenty of other opportunities to easily meet their needs at other meals. Also don’t forget that dairy is an excellent source of protein and let’s not forget our plant based sources too (legumes, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds).


4. Wants everything in a packet 

Sometimes this is just peer pressure and wanting what their friends have -that one is then up to you to find the balance in what you’re personally happy to offer. Sometimes we’re resisting the packet food as adults because we’re worried it’s “unhealthy”, and perhaps that’s the case. I can tell you that restricting foods or never offering them at all, only makes these foods more desirable, not less. Best to find a way to offer these foods sometimes (you can read about how I started Friday night chips night here). Sometimes wanting everything from a packet is about “sameness”. Packet food is very predictable and every bite will taste the same, bite to bite, one packet to the next. A banana is not like this - it might be firm, soft or floury. Some kids with sensory processing differences can find this tricky to deal with. You can read more about packing a lunch box for a sensory eater here.


5.  Food staying fresh

And finally one I hear all the time from parents is that you want to make your lunches the night before but you’re worried about everything staying fresh. Once upon a time I was in this camp too, but the time I was making 3 lunchboxes most days of he week (I now make 4 lunch boxes!!), I knew I had to change something to ease our morning routine. Lo and behold I was surprised to find that if you use an airtight lunch box like ours, and simply put it in the fridge overnight, everything stays perfectly fresh and crunchy even! Check out this reel I made over on instagram for the results!


Our stainless steel lunch boxes are designed to make your life easier and your kids' lunches more enjoyable. They are durable, keep food fresh, and are perfect for a variety of meals and snacks. Plus, they are eco-friendly and help reduce waste from packet foods.

Ready to simplify your lunch-packing routine? Check out our collection of stainless steel lunch boxes and make lunchtime a breeze for you and your kids!

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