My two older children start back at school this Fall, now that I have returned to teaching. Sienna is 3 1/2 and in the 3 year old "Yellow Room" and Luke, almost 2, is in the toddler "Red Room". It's fun that they are in the same school together and I'm looking forward to their years of school together.
Putting together a nutritious meal that they will both actually eat can be a little stressful. As mothers, have so much on our plate already (pun intended), that it is nice to go into the week with a plan and some easy go-to options.
First, you will need to see if your childcare/preschool has any limitations on foods. For instance, our preschool is a nut-free school, so there cannot be any peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or even almond butter sandwiches for that matter. Some schools will allow Sunbutter made from sunflower seeds. They also request no uncooked vegetables, such as raw celery and carrots. They suggest vegetables to be cooked.
Easy Sandwich - Make a sandwich out of nut-free bread or pita bread. Create one by using Sunbutter and jelly, a cheese sandwich, or meat and cheese.
Tortilla Roll-ups - create a savory roll-up with turkey, ham or beef meat and add spinach. Or create a slightly sweet sandwich roll up with cream cheese and jelly.
Mini-pizza - Create a mini pizza out of an English muffin. Add pizza sauce, cheese and any toppings your toddler likes. My daughter loves ham and pinepple.
Mini Taco or Quesadilla - Use two corn or flour tortillas to make a quesadilla or taco. Add beans, lettuce, corn, and ground beef or turkey meat.
Noodles - To say my toddler loves noodles would be an understatement. You can mix it up with mac and cheese, pesto sauce or red sauce.
Chicken Nuggets or Meatballs - They work for dinner, why not add them to the lunch rotation? Great source of protein to power your child through the day.
String Cheese - Easy protein to add to any lunchbox.
Hard Boiled Egg - Another easy protein that you can make ahead on Sunday for the week ahead. If your toddler likes egg salad, you could throw that into a pita bread sandwich.
Raw Vegetables - Depending on what your preschool allows, chopped vegetables add a boost of vitamins, minerals and fiber to your toddler's meal. Add chopped celery, cucumber, bell pepper, carrots to their meal.
Fresh Fruit - I like to add plenty of cut up apples, peaches, strawberries, cut grapes, blueberries, kiwi, or melon to my toddler's lunch.
Dried Fruit - If I'm crunched for prep time, I'll opt for dried apricots, figs, and raisins. When purchasing dried fruit, look on the back to make sure there are no added sulfates or sugar.
Yogurt Parfait - Top yogurt with granola and berries for a fun treat.
A way to encourage healthy eating and get proportions right, is to use a lunchbox like the PlanetBox. What I love about the PlanetBox is that the whole unit is dishwasher safe (easy clean up) and it eliminates the need for one time use plastic bags. It is free of BPA, phthalates, and lead - so it really is non-toxic and non-leaching. It's one of the safest lunch boxes out there. It is a bit of an investment upfront, but you won't need to a lunch box for YEARS. My friend has used hers almost everyday for the last 5-6 years. The stainless steel is warrantied for 5 years.
I love the design with different compartments - I chose The Rover design. There are several designs offered on their website, so you can choose what design works best for your typical lunch. The lunchbox comes with containers great for yogurt, messy foods like fruits, and dips. My daughter loves the magnets that can be placed on the outside of the PlanetBox. This is a fun customization feature that the company adds to personalize your box.