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Lunch and Snack Ideas

Updated: Nov 14, 2023


A group of smiling kids holding carrots up.
A group of smiling kids holding carrots up.

This is my first year as a parent who packs lunches! I’ve learned so much thus far. I thought I would share it with you all. I will share some of my favorite lunch items to get as well as some preparation hacks and tips! I would love to hear some of yours! I reached out to close friends and family and have shared some of their favorite ideas, too! You could easily adapt these ideas to feed a group of children within a center or in your child care.


The best thing I’ve learned is that a lunch box doesn’t have to be the typical sandwich with a side. There are so many fun ways to get all of the necessary grains, protein, fruits, and veggies.


A few other tips and hacks:

  • Use leftovers, especially if kids have access to a microwave, or if it’s something they enjoy cold, like pizza or pasta.

  • If you haven’t made overnight oats, oatmeal muffins, or protein balls; find some recipes and try them! They are easy, healthy, and delicious!

  • Plan your lunches like you plan meals for the week. I like to plan and grocery shop for the week on Sundays so on Monday I’m prepared.

  • Create a system that makes packing lunches quick and easy for you! It took me most of the school year to get it down but now I can throw a few lunches together in fifteen minutes.

  • Let your children be involved in food preparation! There are so many amazing opportunities to talk about where food comes from, how it’s made, who makes it, etc. Also, learning to prep and cook food is a skill that lasts a lifetime.

  • Pick a good lunch box that works for the way you pack lunches! I like to pack yogurt and sauces so we use a bento box that is leak and spill proof when it’s closed up.

  • Try new foods in small increments and make sure to pair them with something you know your child will like and be sure to eat.

  • Watch for choking hazards! When in doubt, cut everything extra small to be safe.

  • Check with the school or business for allergies.

Two women cooking with a small child
Two women cooking with a small child

Proteins

  • Beans

  • Beef Jerky

  • Chicken Salad

  • Chickpeas

  • Cream Cheese

  • Deli Meat

  • Egg Salad

  • Hard boiled egg

  • Hummus

  • Meatballs

  • Oatmeal or Overnight Oats

  • Peanut Butter (or seed / nut butter)

  • Protein Balls

  • Smoked Salmon

  • Sliced or string cheese

  • Tofu

  • Turkey Jerky

  • Tuna

  • Yogurt


Fruits

Vegetables

Carbohydrates

Surprises and Treats


 

Meghan is a born and raised Montanan, mama to a new baby boy, a busy preschooler, and a bonus mom to two amazing teenagers. She holds both a Bachelors and Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. Meghan is currently working part time with Raise Montana as a project specialist where she writes blogs, curriculum guides, and hosts the seasonal book clubs. Meghan is passionate about using her experience as an early childhood educator and as a Mom to bring knowledge and inspiration to Montana child care providers


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