We all get in a rut as to what to feed our toddlers! Now that I have 4 toddlers to feed multiple times every day, writing down our routine in one place is helpful for me too. Often times I feed them dinner leftovers or make something real time, but what about preschool or daycare? This post will focus on how I pack healthy and quick lunches to-go for my bigs at preschool. These toddler lunch ideas do not need to be reheated and are peanut butter free (our school does not allow peanuts).
I use two different style bento boxes (simply because these are the two I like best and fit in their lunchboxes). The first is from YumBox. YumBox comes in different colors and has clear dividers on the inside. It is portion controlled for toddlers and has illustrative suggestions for each of the compartments. The second I have Bentgo Kids Brights Tray.
I honestly do not have a preference for one over the other – I also do not add anything soupy or dipping sauces to minimize messes. Both styles are dishwasher friendly which is a total must for me. Why do I have 2 different styles?? I have 3 bento boxes for each of my bigs. One of my biggest tips is to pack multiple meals at the same time. My girls go to school 3 days a week, so I pack all the lunches at once and store in the fridge for school days! This makes the evening prep during the weeknights much smoother.
- Prep the night before and include your child in the fun
- Pack foods that you know your child will eat or has eaten in the past
- Chop for bite size eating (I know there are teachers in the room, but I try and chop items smaller so it is easier for my kids to manage)
- Aim for a variety of items from the categories of protein, meat, vegetables, and grains
Rotisserie Chicken – easy to pick up from your local grocery store and cube up
Deli Meat – think outside of ham & turkey… we love salami and pepperoni too
Cheese – chop cheese sticks, add shredded cheese, or small cheese wheels
Almond Butter – spread on crackers or use as a dipping sauce
Boiled Eggs – chopped into bite size pieces
Quesadilla – cheese, chicken, beef, pork, or black bean
Oatmeal Balls – here are my favorite recipes and I always use almond butter
Chick Peas – straight from the can
Really any and all fruits are fair game just chopped into bite size pieces – these are our go-to’s
Shredded Carrots – easier for small mouths to munch
Dried Peas – these are our favorites
Broccoli – steamed or try this recipe here for patties (they taste like hasbrowns!!)
Sweet Potato – steamed and cubed
Corn – roasted or canned
Sweet Peas – fresh or canned
Cucumber – sliced and diced
Bell Peppers – chopped into bit size pieces
Quinoa – either plain or through this family fave recipe (we bake in a pan and call it Quinoa Cake!)
Pretzels – typically sticks
Crackers – typically whole grain
Pita – cut into smaller triangles
Pasta – use ditalini pasta for this veggie packed recipe here (we add shredded zucchini and onion)
Cheddar Bunnies – any type of snack-y cracker
Rice – brown, wild, etc
Cereal – Cheerios, etc
I created this free printable to post in a handy location to assist with toddler lunch ideas – feel free to use it as well! Remember to keep it simple and provide foods you know your child will eat while away!