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Four Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters

Kids can be notorious picky eaters. While a lot of children will grow out of difficult eating habits, getting them to eat now can be a major challenge a lot of parents face. Sure, your kids might love chicken fingers and french fries, but a full-time fast food diet won't teach them about proper nutrition or set up good habits for later in life.

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The good news is that you can get creative with the food you offer your children. It may take a little trial and error, but these four healthy lunch ideas from Pottery Barn Kids can get your kids eating healthier in a heartbeat.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a tried-and-true staple that almost every kid under the sun loves. While eating three a day may not be too healthy for your child, there is definitely room for this classic sandwich at the table. Best of all it's a fast and easy lunch that will keep well in a lunchbox or paper bag if your child is at school or away from home.

The trick with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is in the ingredients. Quality whole wheat or grain bread, no sugar added peanut butter and natural jellies and jams made without tons of sugar and preservatives are your best bet. You can also go light on the sweet jelly and load up on the healthier, more nutritious peanut butter.

Another great thing about the PB&J is that kids love this sandwich so much that they won't even balk when they see you've paired this tasty treat with a healthy snack like baby carrots or celery sticks.

Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a total comfort food for many adults, and since most kids love it wholeheartedly, it's a popular dinner time main course or side dish. There are ways to make mac and cheese healthier, and the best part is that your kids may not even realize you're doing it!

Yes, the old sneak attack where you slip small amounts of healthy foods into tasty ones is still in use because it's so effective. A perfect vessel for broccoli, tomatoes and even more difficult fresh vegetables like squash, macaroni and cheese can hide almost anything with ease.

Go for a baked casserole style option to really hide those veggies. You can even make your mac and cheese ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow's lunch. Uneaten portions can go in the freezer for about 90 days.

The Loaded Baked Potatoes

For kids that are picky eaters, the baked potato is yet another delivery vehicle for healthy veggies that children may otherwise turn their nose up at. The easiest way to hide veggies is to simply mix them with potato, then add cheese! The cheese will cover up the "bad stuff" long enough that your kids may even realize that broccoli isn't as bad as they thought.

Pasta Salad

Sometimes a hot lunch just isn't possible. Pasta salad served cold is an awesome way to get kids to eat healthy even if they're picky.

Why? Because kids will eat almost anything with noodles involved. Classic macaroni, penne, or multi-colored noodles pair well with a host of fresh vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, green peas and fresh tomatoes. Chop these really small, mix them in with your pasta, and finish with a light dressing your kids don't mind like a basic olive oil option.

The best part is that adults can also enjoy a fresh pasta salad, making it much easier to share a healthy meal with your kids.

Getting your kids to eat well can feel like an uphill battle when they're super-picky. It may take some time to get your kids loving straight broccoli and spinach without a little help, but it can be done. For now, go ahead and hide those veggies and don't forget to reward your kids with treats they love that are also pretty good for them in moderation.

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