If you have a toddler or preschool age child, you know how difficult it can be to get your child to eat, and even more difficult to get them to eat healthy, balanced meals! As an early childhood teacher, I’ve been able to observe kids at lunchtime and have learned lots of tricks to encourage healthy eating. Here are the TOP 3 guidelines I use when packing lunches for my 2 and a half year old.
1: VARIETY: Kids like to be able to snack on many different things. I like to keep portions fairly small to make sure my daughter doesn’t get full on dairy and skip her fruits and veggies. I found these silicone baking cups on Amazon. They are perfectly sized for toddler portions and they are dishwasher and microwave safe. I really love them! They make it possible to pack everything up in a simple Rubbermaid container rather than juggling a bunch of different containers and baggies.
2. FUN: The best way to make a lunch look fun is to make it colorful! I like to mix fruits like strawberries and blueberries or veggies like carrots and sugar snap peas to make Clare’s lunch look like a rainbow. Some moms get really creative (like the ones below), but I usually keep it pretty simple. Clare often giggles with delight when her lunch is put in front of her!
3. BALANCE: I do my very best to make sure each meal is balanced with protein, dairy, fruits, veggies, and grains. Protein can be tricky sometimes, since Clare is vegetarian, but I’ve found some great staples like black bean quesadillas and edamame. By keeping the meals balanced, I hope that I am teaching Clare skills for healthy eating that she will carry with her for the rest of her life!
Here are some of the lunches and snacks I packed this week:
The childcare center where I work is peanut free, so I use almond butter and Nutella a lot for sandwiches and rollups.
Clare ate every last bite of this yummy lunch! There was literally nothing left in her container after lunchtime.
Here’s an example of a yummy snack bento.
I hope this inspires more mommies and daddies to jump on the bento box train! It makes packing lunches so much fun (I actually look forward to it!) and there are endless possibilities!
What are some of your favorite lunch options for toddlers and preschoolers?