Planning Kids Lunches by Color

We have 4 year old twins and like a lot of other parents we are trying to ensure that our children have a well-balanced diet, even through the picky eater phase.  Where once our babies eagerly gulped down jars of pureed chicken and pasta, prunes, and sweet potato, it seems that the raised eyebrows, crossed arms and refusal to eat is what a lot of us are looking at across the dining table during mealtimes.

One thing that I have found to be successful in having them try new foods is to encourage them to be a part of the meal planning process, so we began planning their lunches by color. They tell me what color they want for lunch and I set out a selection of food for them to choose from. They use their sectional plates and are encouraged to put a different food group in each section. There is no hiding broccoli in cupcakes, or sneaking spinach into their pasta sauce. I have made it a point to choose a range of their favorite foods, along with new foods for them to try.

Here are a few suggestions of foods grouped into colors so that you can try this at home, along with a few tips at the end on how you can make the meal more appealing to kids.

Green Food:

  • Fruit and vegetables: Peas, edamame, beans, green apples, spinach (uncooked), grapes, broccoli, kiwi fruit, cucumber, zucchini, green bell peppers, avocado, asparagus, assorted lettuce, Brussels sprouts, green pears, limes, honeydew melon, snow peas, kale, green cabbage, green tomatoes.
  • Other green foods: spinach tortillas (used as quesadillas or wraps), spinach pasta, spinach pancakes, green gold fish, key lime yogurt, green veggie chips, guacamole, green tortilla chips, zucchini muffins, green tomato salsa.

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Orange food:

  • Fruit and vegetables: oranges, clementines, carrots, orange bell peppers, kumquats, mango, peaches, cantaloupe, sweet potato, apricots (dried and fresh), pumpkin.
  • Other orange foods: orange pasta served with vodka sauce, pumpkin or sweet potato soup, sweet potato fries, orange chicken, orange veggie chips, goldfish, cheddar cheese, roasted pepper hummus, yogurt orange fruits, salmon.

Red food:

  • Fruit and vegetables: strawberries, raspberries, radishes, red bell pepper, tomatoes, red apples, red pears, red-skinned potatoes, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, red grapes, watermelon, red onions, rhubarb, pink or red grapefruit.
  • Other red foods: pasta with tomato based sauce, mini baked potatoes using the red-skinned potatoes, red tortilla chips, red kidney beans, tuna, pink salmon, red tomato salsa, jam (jelly) sandwich.

Blue and purple food:

  • Fruit and vegetables: blueberries, purple grapes, plums, purple potatoes, purple cabbage eggplant.
  • Other blue and purple foods: blueberry muffins, blue tortilla chips, blue cheese, blueberry yogurt.

Yellow food:

  • Fruit and vegetables: yellow tomatoes, lemons, yellow bell pepper, pineapple, yellow corn, bananas, summer squash, yellow apples, dried pear.
  • Other yellow foods: cheese, crackers, goldfish, chicken nuggets, tortillas (used to make wraps or quesadillas), scrambled eggs or omelet.

Brown, black and white food:

  • Fruit and vegetables: mushrooms, cauliflower, white corn, potatoes, brown pears, black grapes, blackberries, raisins, dried prunes.
  • Other brown, black and white foods: beans, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat and whole grain bread, chicken, roast beef, fish, vanilla yogurt, waffles, peanut butter sandwich, bagels, olives, nuts, meatballs.

Make your food look appealing.

  • Serve in individual bowls and have your child choose at least 5 different foods to try which they can dish up themselves.
  • Alternatively, pre-serve food in sectional plates
  • Shape the food into something fun such as a funny face.
  • For pasta dishes mix in some of the vegetables, there should be quite an assortment of shades of color.
  • Make soups such as broccoli and leek, pumpkin, sweet corn or tomato.
  • Combine vegetables such as finely chopped bell peppers, or even herbs with sour cream or yogurt to use as dips.
  • Make smoothies by combining yogurt, milk and fruit in a blender. Pour a little of the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze to make fruit popsicles to serve as a treat later.
  • Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes in sandwiches, vegetables and pancakes.
  • Use skewers to thread a few different foods of the same color together, for example, watermelon, strawberries and red grapes.
  • For sour fruits such as limes, lemons and grapefruit, squeeze them into water to make refreshing drinks or add slices to a jug of fresh iced water.
Avatar About Tonya Staab

Tonya Staab is a content creator and the creative mind behind Create-Celebrate-Explore, a lifestyle blog that inspires parents to craft, cook, travel, and celebrate every day.

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