Lunch Designs

Solutions for a Picky EaterKid lunch of bagel cream cheese cherries and carrots arranged into face shape on plate

  • What: Lunch Designs
  • When: Mealtimes for kids
  • Why: Get them to eat more
  • Where: Your home

My kids have gotten out of school for the summer. Instead of packing lunches in the morning, I cater to all three of them each day around noon. One of my kids will eat almost anything that appears magically in front of him, but one barely touches a thing. I have started arranging her food into pictures of sorts to encourage her to eat.

Peach cut into slices and arrange like flower petals on plate

Peach slices arranged into flower petals taste better.

It doesn’t matter what I put on the plate, although it helps if she gets to pick from a couple of main entrees. Around here, that usually means something in bread, bagels, or tortillas. Once we get that settled, I add fruits and veggies (often frozen) and decorate her plate.

I’ve done vehicles (always easy with the round wheels) and faces. I can get more complex and go for things like flowers and rainbows and clouds in the sky, but I like to put in minimal effort, especially since the other two kids also request designs once she gets one.

Pancakes arranged into mouse head shape with berry eyes and fruit nose and mouth

Faces are easy to make and decorate.

Whatever your kid likes, see if you can cut some sandwiches or other food they will eat into fun approximations. It doesn’t require serious art skills, as I have virtually none of those. It’s mostly about inspiration and selling them on it. I talk about each food item and explain what it is (hair, eyebrows, tongue, mouth, nose, wheels, door, flower petals).

If you want to simplify the process, invest in a sandwich cutter. It knocks off the crusts and makes shapes all in one tool. We have the train pieces and all my kids love it. The only drawback is once you start using it, you might have to use it every time from now until college. I like to add berries or carrots for smoke from the smokestack, and banana slices or other round things on top of the wheels.

I’ve also been known to give them food and let them add their own choice of stuff. All of my kids loved to stick random things in their cream cheese on open faced bagels and sandwiches. They would go through a ton of blueberries or peas or what have you to make their own designs.

If you have a picky eater, try arranging the food into some sort of pictures and see what happens.

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