I have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, and big sis is the unofficial president of the Picky Eaters Club. Little bro, meanwhile, will eat almost anything. But, alas, he only wants exactly what his sister has. So, if you ever need carb and cheese recipes, I’m your gal. Now that it’s back-to-school time, I thought I’d use my expert knowledge of all things bland to unlock the secrets of packing lunches for littles. With any luck, these tips will help bump your kid out of picky eater status, if only for lunch. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll find a menu of toasted bagel slices topped with cucumber rounds, cheddar cheese hearts and stars, applesauce pouches and a dash of cereal for a sweet treat. I’m not saying it’s the most healthy, I’m just sayin’ kids might actually eat it.

Step 1: Box It

The idea of presenting everyday foods in cute, colorful and compact ways via a bento box really does the trick for my little lunchtime duo. 

Step 2: Think Green

Buuuuuut… not too green. Because, after all, we’re dealing with some finicky little feeders here. We don’t want three broccoli pieces to mess up our whole lunch game, now do we? That’s why I choose to introduce our friend the cucumber. It’s light, it’s crunchy and it’s not overwhelmingly “veggie.” A half circle cut makes a good smiley face or you can slice them into rounds AND sticks. Like the rebel you are.

Step 3: Enter the Mini Bagel

Mini bagels are a much-loved commodity in our house. So much so that we clear the shelves of them at the Paso Target. They’re good toasted for breakfast, as sandwich alternatives and for the adored cheesy pizza bagel. Sure, mini bagels are still bread any way you slice it (see what I did there?) but they’re still “mini” and that makes ‘em good for the lunch box.

Step 4: Cut It Up

If you kid is anti-mini bagel, you can still work your lunch-making magic with fun shape cutters. PB&J, cheese and cucumbers can all be transformed into lovable little flowers, dinos and hearts. This clearly gives them an edge over their boringly sliced counterparts. Mini cutters also make crusts a non-issue. That’s a win in our house, where those pesky bread edges have apparently become Enemy No. 1.

And there you have it! A fail-proof lunch for back-to-school!… hopefully 🙂

P.S. If anyone has a lunch box idea that fits a bento box, ice pack and a water bottle, please let me know on Facebook!

Two In Tow & On The Go is a Paso Robles Mommy Blog that features pictures, tips and stories about things to do with kids on the Central Coast. Follow the adventure at @two.n.tow on Instagram and Facebook; and at twontow.com.