By Guest Blogger Kelly Gunzenhauser

Cheetos. Leftover pie. The crumbs at the bottom of the chip bag. Three packs of pop tarts. A Klondike bar. Yep, these are some of the things I have caught my kids eating for lunch.

I read friends’ Facebook posts about the great meals their kids are preparing and know I am behind in this area. When I was my boys’ ages, I was making candy, dicing fruit and veggies, and walking a mile uphill to school both ways.  Faced with some intense time at home, I am going to expect a little more of them. Here are some ideas I hope they will try on their own, and maybe your kids can, too! Note that these are extremely flexible recipes meant to encourage experimenting.

Snacky Lunch (What to feed your pickiest kid.)

Gather an assortment of finger foods. I like baby carrots, mini-bell peppers, cucumber slices, dip, grapes, berries, cracker-cut cheese slices or “baby” cheese, crackers, pepperoni or salami slices, pickles, olives, almonds or peanuts, and a few sweets, like Hershey Kisses or Swedish fish, for dessert. Demonstrate this once by setting it all out in groups on a platter (like antipasti). For next time, put the ingredients together in the fridge and let the kids set it out themselves.

Grilled Cheese (Don’t just teach them how to use the stove. Teach them not to walk away from it!)

Demonstrate your favorite recipe on the first kid’s sandwich, then watch them make an additional sandwich. My fave recipe is wheat bread, mayo, two slices of whatever cheese is around, and butter on the outside of the bread (because we fry it in a grill pan). Don’t forget to mash it down with a spatula and make it crispy! (For a bit of interest, spread a bit of apple jelly on the bread instead of mayo.)


With a few easy ingredients and an immersion blender, your kids can be creative and healthy. Have them cut up fruit (or pre-cut it if you are worried about knife usage), add a thickener, and drink from a big (reusable) straw. Here are some quick recipes. Adjust to your taste!

  • C-PB-B: Blend one banana, half a cup vanilla Greek yogurt, two tablespoons peanut butter, one packet of Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink, and add milk a little at a time to get the desired consistency.
  • Grape Escape: Blend a handful of green grapes, a handful of baby spinach, vanilla Greek yogurt, any kind of milk except chocolate, and a few ice cubes. (You can substitute yogurt with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.)
  • Cinnamon Oatmeal: 2 dates (optional), 1 tablespoon instant maple syrup, ¼ cup instant oatmeal, ¼ cup milk (or more if mixture is super thick), 1 banana, ½ c vanilla yogurt, 1 t cinnamon, few ice cubes.
  • Nothing Rhymes with Orange: Freeze 2-3 peeled clementine sections for 30 minutes. Blend with 1 cup milk (any kind but chocolate), ½ t vanilla extract, and a few ice cubes.

Fun Wraps

One of my kids is not a big sandwich fan, but rolling things in a wrap is more fun, somehow. Try these combos.

  • Blue Max: Turkey slices, 1 tablespoon cream cheese, sliced Cucumbers, roasted red pepper slices, sprigs of dill, 1 tablespoon ranch or blue cheese dressing.
  • PB and Crunch: With a soft wrap, it’s nice to add some texture to a PB sandwich. Try adding apple slices, a sprinkle of peanuts, and some jelly.
  • Snacky Wrap: Halved grapes, cheese cubes, ham cubes (slices are fine), touch of mustard or mayo. (Be sure to cut the grapes, or they may shoot out of the wrap when you squeeze it.)
  • Thanksgiving: turkey slices, 2 tablespoons canned cranberry sauce, 2 tablespoons cream cheese, crunchy lettuce.
  • Bite Back: Turkey or chicken chunks or slices, 2 tablespoons goat cheese, 1 tablespoon pepper jelly, 1 strip bacon, baby spinach.


If your kids really need a sweet treat, consider these easy fixes.

  • Pretzel rods and Nutella or Cookie Butter
  • Apple slices spread with peanut butter and dipped in mini-chocolate chips
  • Cinnamon toast: Spread butter on a slice of bread and add a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.
  • Good old Jell-O pudding—let kids make their own!

For more recipes and fun food ideas, click here!

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