You've got questions, I'll try to determine some answers...
I have a kid who is pretty sensory and has a very limited and very specific selection of what he will eat. He's starting school this fall and I wondered what you, as a fellow parent of a sensory kid, would aim for with school lunches. I've made a list of what I know he'll eat: apple slices (red skin), carrots (baby, pre-washed), cucumbers (english, cut in circles), milk or juice, two or three kinds of crackers, oatmeal, most breakfast cereals and the occasional string cheese. He'll eat peanut butter but that's not allowed at school. My gut feel is that school lunch is not the place I want to fight the good fight of expanding his palate and willingness to see, touch, smell and eventually eat new foods. But I am afraid of being judged (he's my 3rd, but I know his teacher and principal).
Hmmmm. I actually see nothing wrong with this list.
Also? Let go of the fear of being judged. You will always, always, ALWAYS be judged by someone. And if you are being judged by someone, based upon the foods that you listed above - I'd be totally ok with that judgement. Does that make sense? That is to say, I'd say you were within your grounds of fear of judgement if you packed a lunch that consisted of a twinkie, sugar cereal and a coke. The above list, though, is pretty balanced, covers the food groups, and, above all -
It's FOOD HE WILL EAT. And, isn't that the point of lunch? To get food into his body?
I know your worry, though, and so here are some of my thoughts.
- Write up a list, with his help, of foods that he agrees are acceptable for lunch. You sign it, he signs it, and it's posted in the kitchen. He packs his lunch - with your help if needed - from the foods on the list. Maybe one day the two of you cut up a cucumber and put slices into small containers, so he can pull them from the fridge. Maybe you buy the pre cut apple slices and you both bag them. I do as much of this stuff as I can, so that when they pack, it's super easy to grab a few containers.
- You are right - school lunch is not where you want to fight the good fight of expanding his palate. Home is where you want to do that - knowing that it will take numerous exposures to new foods to allow him to open his mind up to them - and you don't want the new foods thrown away at school - as well as the thought of him hungry all day doesn't fill you with awesomeness. So allow him to pack what he will eat - give him the power - and let it go.
- You can't do peanut butter. Will he eat soy butter? Sunflower butter? Are you allowed another nut butter? Sometimes kids can't tell the difference, and I've known other parents to successfully swap the pb for soy by combining them. That is, start with pb on a piece of bread and mix in a little soy butter. Each time, reduce the pb a bit and soon it's all soy butter. I've not tried this myself - but other people have reported success.
I'd love to know other people's thoughts on this.
I had a couple of people ask the same questions - lunches for picky eaters - and they kind of go along with this question.
I think you've done this before, but I could use some nut-free lunch ideas for a picky child whose lunch rotation usually goes something like this: peanut butter sandwich, nutella sandwich, cream cheese bagel, repeat. Things she might eat that won't endanger the allergic child in her class would be extremely helpful.
How about: yogurt, hard boiled eggs, tuna in a pouch (I will never ever eat this, but one of my kids inhales it), cream cheese and jelly spread on a tortilla, rolled up and cut into spirals, spaghetti in a thermos, cold pasta salad, fried chicken legs, waffles with nut butter and jelly, french toast sticks, cheese cubes and crackers, hummus with veggies, mini pizza bagels, leftover pizza, cold mac and cheese, pepperoni slices.
Any other ideas?