The Suitcase – A Solution for Picky Eaters

My two year old is an extremely picky eater and has been ever since we transitioned from purees (oh how I miss being able to puree together a balanced meal!). So, I imagine like many of you experience, eating time is often a struggle for us. Oh, we’ve tried it ALL – making the food fun (faces, shapes, etc), hiding goodness inside the not so goodness (a kid can only eat so many grilled cheese sandwiches before he turns into one, right?) and we even sing songs at meal time (well, I do anyway – “It’s time to eat lunch now, lunch now, lunch now, It’s time to eat lunch now, at the table!”).

Still, eating is a challenge.

Then one day my mother proposed a solution. She came into Seattle from Maine (where I grew up) for a visit. With her she brought a Thomas the Train lunchbox. My son was enthralled with his “suitcase”. So each day for lunch my mother would pack it up and put it in his fridge for him to access at the appropriate time.


So we fill it with grapes, rice cakes, a water bottle, a sandwich, etc. My son is always excited to grab his Suitcase and promptly eat lunch, all of it. On Tuesday and Thursday when he gets home from preschool hungry for lunch, he scurries down the hallway directly to his fridge to grab his Suitcase.

Wow, right? I am not saying “the Suitcase” has solved all our eating dilemmas but we are thrilled with the start. The Suitcase is one of the many examples of the positive impact giving a child a little independence and self-sufficiency has on your whole world (and especially his world). The “I Can Do It By Myself” attitude is one that we should embrace, not hinder. We should feed into this attitude and someday this resourcefulness will pay off more than we parents can imagine.

So, go grab your version of a “Suitcase”. Ours happened to be Thomas the Train but there are other wonderful options out there with all sorts of characters, plus cool vintage lunch boxes and environmentally friendly ones too. Go nuts.

Thanks for reading…

I linked this post up to these parties:

Classified: Mom

Montessori Monday


  1. brooke says

    My son is a problem eater, we even worked with an OT for sensory issues with food. We tote the lunch box with us everywhere unless we are headed to my parents house or out to eat pizza. It makes him calmer to know he has his perferred foods available. I’m hoping I end up with a picky eater instead of a problem eater one of these days!

    • says

      Brooke, thank you for sharing that fact with me. I think our boys would get along quite well. If you have a moment, I’d love to chat with you more about the “issue” and your experience, especially with the OT. For my son, I think the “suitcase” is more a sense of ownership, control and independence. I never thought about the fact that his preferred foods are also available. That makes so much sense. Email me your story if you have a moment.
      Thanks again for sharing…Marnie

  2. Sam says

    I have such a hard time with my son (20 months) eating healthy meals; he always wants to snack! I still don’t really understand fully what you mean. Did your son just start eating things he didn’t before just b/c of the the lunchbox?? I would love for that to help, but it’s boggling my mind! Really???

    • says

      Hi Sam,

      I hear you! He didn’t eat new things but had ‘lunch’ as opposed to snacks all day. He was excited about his lunch in his suitcase and took ownership of it. He’d walk through the door after preschool and race to his little kitchen where I had strategically placed the lunch box. I’d pack PB&J, apple slices or grapes, a water bottle and maybe crackers or raisins. We still struggle but this approach was one way to mitigate the ‘issue’.

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