Discovering that your child consistently avoids eating their packed lunch can be concerning and frustrating for any parent. It’s crucial to approach the situation with understanding and strategy rather than frustration. Here are several steps you can take to address this issue effectively.

Understand the Why

Before jumping to conclusions or solutions, it’s essential to understand why your child isn’t eating their lunch. Is it because they don’t like the food, or perhaps they’re not hungry at that time? The lunch period may be too short, or they prefer to spend time with friends. Engage in a calm and open conversation with your child to uncover the root cause.

Involve Your Child in the Planning Process

Involvement in the lunch planning and preparation process can significantly increase your child’s interest in their meals. Allow them to choose from a variety of healthy lunch options. This empowerment can make them more likely to eat what they’ve chosen and pack themselves.

Focus on Variety and Presentation

Children can get bored with the same foods quickly. Introducing variety into their lunches can keep them interested. Also, the way food is presented can significantly impact their desire to eat it. Creative presentations, such as using cookie cutters for sandwiches or making fruit kebabs, can make lunchtime more appealing.

Ensure Proper Portion Sizes

Sometimes, the issue might be as simple as the portion size needing to be bigger. Children have smaller stomachs, and what seems like a reasonable amount to an adult might be overwhelming for a child. Adjust portion sizes to ensure they’re appropriate for your child’s appetite.

Address Social and Time Concerns

If social interactions or a rush during lunchtime are factors, explore ways to help your child manage these aspects. It might involve talking to the school about lunchtime policies or finding quick-to-eat, nutritious options that fit into the limited time they have.

Offer Healthy Snacks

Some children prefer to graze throughout the day rather than eat large meals. Packing healthy snacks that they can eat during breaks might work better for their eating habits. Ensure these snacks are nutritious and energy-boosting.

Be Patient and Positive

Changes in eating habits don’t happen overnight. It’s important to be patient and keep a positive attitude. Celebrate small successes and continue to encourage healthy eating habits without pressuring your child.


Addressing the issue of your child not eating their packed lunch requires a mix of understanding, creativity, and patience. By involving your child in the process, focusing on variety, and addressing underlying concerns, you can help ensure that they receive the nutrition they need to thrive throughout their school day.