Packing lunches for daycare, preschool or anywhere on the go present a whole new challenge for feeding toddlers. We figure out how to create healthy, yummy meals at home but packing lunches to go can be confusing at first. It doesn’t have to be though! These 12 toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool will give you some ideas for packing easy lunches for your little ones.
When Miles started camp this summer, he got really excited about his new lunch box and picking out some of the items he was going to have. I would give him simple choices- like bananas or strawberries, carrots or cucumbers, etc. They don’t have to be elaborate meals. Just get a few foods in each food group at your weekly grocery trip and rotate them around for the week.
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- Aim for a Balanced Meal- Each lunch doesn’t have to be perfect, but it helps in figuring out what to include if you think about having something from each food group and making it as colorful as possible. They won’t always include everything and that is okay, but aim for a protein, grains, dairy, vegetable and fruit to round out the lunch.
- Include your Child- Have them help with lunch preparation. It can be in the simplest way as making a few easy choices or actually helping make items like sandwiches. Don’t include lots of things they have never seen, but once in a while I like to add something new along their favorite. And I don’t give up after the first day!
- Be Patient and Relaxed- Don’t take it personal if it doesn’t all go well. But lunch won’t always come back completely eaten. They may not even touch their vegetables- but that doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow! Repeated exposure to certain foods usually helps a child be more comfortable and give it a try. It is a long term process, little by little they start to eat different foods. The quantity isn’t a perfect science either- their hunger will also change daily based on how active they were or how large their breakfast was.
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Best Toddler Lunch Boxes
You do not have to get a special lunchbox. I personally have loved these and my son Miles in particular gets really excited about taking them for lunch. You can use tupperware or any container, but I have loved these for a few reasons. The compartments just make it so easy to include different food groups. It only requires one container instead of multiple. And they don’t leak! Easy for them to eat out of and easy for us to clean- win, win.
YUMBOX Original Bento Lunch Box– I’ve loved these- the design is really cute and functional. The bottom of the container is labeled with the different food groups to help you organize your meals. They are also lightweight and easy to wash.
Bentgo Kids Lunch Box– My other favorite. They are more suited for sandwiches than the Yumbox, so I usually grab one of these if I am putting something bigger in their lunch. It is a little heavier, but it fits in our Pottery Barn lunch bag a lot easier than the other.
12 Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare or Preschool
1) Cream cheese, bell pepper and olive pinwheels, carrots with hummus, salami and raspberries.
2) Tuna salad with crackers, tomatoes, olives, green apples and HappyTot yogurt.
3) English muffin pizza, popcorn, snap peas, pineapple with Annie’s chocolate bunnies.
4) Turkey, salami and Babybel cheese with crackers, carrots with ranch, blueberries and greek yogurt with honey.
5) Hard boiled egg, pretzels, red bell peppers, hummus, grapes, greek yogurt with honey and blueberries.
6) Cheese quesadilla, avocado, salsa, red bell peppers and blueberries.
7) Banana, peanut butter pinwheels, cheese cubes, cucumbers, Happykid granola bar, strawberries and trail mix.
8) Pasta salad, cubed chicken breast, carrots, bananas, GoGo applesauce and Annie’s chocolate bunnies.
9) Chicken, cheese and tomatoes tacos, avocado, salsa, Annie’s cheese cracker bunnies and RXBar.
10) Turkey and cheese sandwich, tomatoes with ranch, clementines and almond/cranberry trail mix.
11) Avocado sandwich, red apple, cucumbers, trail mix and graham crackers.
12) Whole grain waffles with maple syrup, hard boiled egg, Gouda cheese strips, kiwi and yogurt with granola and strawberries.
Please let me know in the comments below about your challenges with feeding toddlers or if you have other great lunch ideas that I should know about!
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