Back by popular demand is Hannah from California Toddler to help inspire us all with some easy and healthy lunch box inspirations, and some tips on packing for your preschooler! Don’t forget to give her a follow on IG!
Raise your hand if you feel like all you do is make food for your kid/s…ALL. DAY. LONG! Between breakfast, lunch, school lunch, snacks (and more snacks), and dinner it can be hard to come up with fresh and nutritious meal ideas. So, hopefully I can help you out a bit by sharing some things I’ve learned through my lunch packing career and share some of our favorite school lunches so far this school year.
I’ve been packing lunches for my preschooler for the last 6 months, and here are my top 3 tips based on what I’ve learned:
- Use a lunch box with different sized compartments (a.k.a. Bento Style). This helps encourage you to include a variety of healthy options, and the great thing about these boxes is that each section in the box closes completely, so there are no foods mixing together (ex. juice from your strawberries leaking into your sandwich and making it soggy). You’ll see some of my favorite bento style lunch boxes below.
- Pack according to the amount of time your child’s school allows for lunch. They only have a certain amount of time to eat at school, which is typically a lot less than we allow for them to spend eating at home. So, If you want your child to eat some of each food included, consider cutting your portions down (for example, pack a ½ a sandwich vs. a full one so that your child has time to each the sandwich and also has time to eat the strawberries and snap peas you included as well).
- Include foods that you know your kids enjoy and will likely eat. School lunches are not the time for you to throw in all the foods your kid is refusing at home; rather, you want them to have a yummy lunch that will fuel their body while they are away from you. And I am telling you right now, if veggies are a tricky one for your kid, it is 100% OK if you don’t want to include them in his or her school lunches every day (do it sometimes, just so they have the opportunity, exposure, and a chance to try them at school, but do not obsess or drive yourself nuts about having the perfect balanced meal). J
Now, for some lunchbox ideas (over on @californiatoddler, I share ton’s of ideas for school lunches on my feed and in my stories/highlights):
❤ panko breaded chicken breast with ketchup for dipping (@hipchickfarms)
❤ organic pineapple & passionfruit layered fruit bar (@thepurebar)
❤ Heart shaped strawberries
❤ Sugar snap peas
(Lunch Box: Bentgo)
❤ Salmon/cheese/nutritional yeast quesadillas
❤ Roasted rainbow sweet potatoes
❤ Coconut vanilla granola balls (@nourishsnacks)!
❤ Multi-grain waffle with hemp hearts & maple syrup
❤ Quinoa puffs (@iheartkeenwah)
(Lunch Box: Omni Life)
❤ Sunflower seed butter (nut-free) sandwich multi-grain & seed bread
❤ Blueberries & small orange
❤ Turkey bacon (@applegate)
❤ Broccoli chips (@traderjoes)
❤ Figgy pop energy bite (@madeinnature )
❤ Cream cheese + hemp hearts sandwich on @daveskillerbread
❤ Roasted carrot chips (carrots were pre-cut like this from @wholefoods, and I added some avocado oil, salt and pepper- baked at 425 for about 15 min to make them like chips… so good).
❤ Romaine lettuce with @briannas_salad poppy seed dressing and @annieshomegrown white cheddar bunnies serving as “croutons”.
(Lunch Box: Easy Lunch Boxes)
❤ Strawberry Raspberry Oatmeal (@lovegrown)
❤ Apple slices
❤ Scrambled Eggs with a little hemp hearts & ground flax
❤ Graham cracker & almond butter sandwich
❤ Green pea crisps
❤ Pumpkin Bliss Energy bite (recipe for this on my feed, @californiatoddler)
❤ Orange & Carrot fruit and veggie bites (@veggiegos)
❤ Apple slices
❤ Banana (I just drew the hearts on with a sharpie)
❤ Snap peas
❤ Blueberry Cashew Bar (@perfectbar)
❤ Vegetable Radiatore Pasta (@traderjoes) with olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt & peppe
❤ Pizza bun (this is just a whole wheat burger bun, topped w/ hemp hearts, shredded mozzarella cheese, and @applegate turkey pepperoni in that order… then toasted for about 3 minutes in our @breville toaster oven (love this thing and this super simple take on pizza!).
❤ Sugar snap peas
❤ Fruits & Greens (@larabar)
❤ Pretzel sticks
❤ Turkey Pepperoni (@applegate)
❤ Sliced turkey rolls
❤ Mozzarella string cheese
❤ Hummus (Kale Almond & White Bean)
❤ Orange slices