Getting your little one to eat lunch can be a real battle. Especially when you want to ensure they’re eating a well-balanced meal to fuel them while they’re at preschool or daycare, and you can’t be there to spoon-feed it to them. From thinking of good toddler lunch ideas like from pickyeaterblog.com to making sure it’s safe for them to eat, there’s more than you would think to consider. But we’ve put together everything you need to know about packing lunch for your toddler.
Keep it balanced
First and foremost, you want to make sure that your toddler is eating a well-balanced meal. Whether they’re at daycare or staying at home with you, keeping their energy levels up and bodies balanced is super important. This means covering all the main food groups in their lunch. You want to make sure that their lunch includes:
- Fibre from fruits and vegetables
- Protein from meat, nuts, beans or tofu
- Complex carbohydrates from pasta, rice or potatoes
- Healthy fats from cheese, avocados or nut butter
Make it fun
It can be hard to get your kids to cooperate when it comes to daily activities. But, a simple hack for getting your kids to do things you want them to is to inject a little bit of fun into them! From bathtime to eating, as long as it seems like fun to them, they’ll be way more willing to work with you.
When it comes to eating meals, here are a few ways to get your little one excited for lunchtime…
- Try cutting their sandwiches into fun shapes
- Place their food in the shape of their favourite animal
- Make their meal colourful
Hide their veggies
Getting your toddler to eat their vegetables can be extremely hard, but you can skip all the difficulties and pleading with them to eat broccoli or spinach with one simple trick: hide them. There are many ways to do this, let’s look at a few:
- Pop a few vegetables into a smoothie
- Mince vegetables really small and put them in sauces or even mixing into nuggets
- Add vegetables such as beetroot or peppers into homemade hummus
If they can’t see or taste their vegetables, then there will be no complaining!
Another way to hide vegetables is to conceal them inside other foods. You can do this by putting vegetables in wraps and sandwiches. Whether it’s spinach, cucumber or carrots, adding them into dishes where your little one won’t be able to directly see them is a good way to make sure they eat their veggies. With wraps and sandwiches, you can add so many other flavours in from meat or sauces that they’ll hardly notice the vegetables in there.
Keep things simple
If you’re packing lunch for your toddler to eat at preschool or daycare, then you’ll want to keep things simple. As they’ll be eating by themselves, or will have limited access to help when eating, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Try to keep their lunch ready to eat, so that they can open their lunch and start eating straight away, as opposed to needing to prepare anything or combine ingredients themselves.
Another thing would be to make things that don’t need to be warmed up – and if you do want to give them hot food, then opt for a wide-necked thermos to keep their food warm until lunch.
Make sure the packaging is safe
Whether you’re using Tupperware boxes or wrapping your toddler’s lunch in foil or wax wraps, be aware of any hazards with the packaging of their lunch. Some plastic boxes can contain BPA which is bad for children, and things like foil could potentially be sharp. Especially if they’re at daycare or preschool and you can’t be with them while they eat their lunch, ensuring that the packaging you use won’t hurt or harm them is something to think about.
Some lunch ideas
Now we’ve covered all the things to consider when packing a lunch for your child, let’s look at some ideas for what you could actually feed them. Here are a few lunch recipe ideas:
Hummus, cucumber and falafel wraps
Wraps are a great way to make sure your little one eats their vegetables – plus they’re super easy to make and eat! Falafels are a great source of protein and are a perfect pairing with hummus too.
Homemade chicken and vegetable nuggets and potato cubes
We mentioned hiding vegetables in kids’ favourites – and homemade chicken nuggets are the ideal opportunity to do so. All you have to do is mince up your vegetables with the chicken, shape and coat in breadcrumbs and cook. For a healthy option, cook the nuggets in an air fryer or bake them in the oven, and serve with sweet potato cubes. Don’t forget a dipping sauce either!
Quesadillas are another finger food that is awesome in lunchboxes. Whilst you can use a meat filling, using lentils in place of it is great for a vegetarian or vegan option.
Homemade bento boxes
These are staples in East Asian cuisines and lunch boxes and are super versatile, so can be customized any way you like! The best part about bento boxes is that they cover all the main food groups, making them perfect for ensuring your little one gets all their nutrients.
Couscous with chicken and vegetables
Couscous is a fantastic grain that’s easy to cook and combine with many other ingredients. It goes great with mixed vegetables and paprika seasoned chicken as a nutritious and yummy lunch.
Spinach Pesto Pasta with peas
Pasta is a staple for lunchboxes as it’s just as nice cold as it is hot. A super simple and tasty combination is pasta and pesto, which you can add a whole range of vegetables too. We’ve chosen spinach and peas, but you can really add anything: broccoli, carrots, peppers or mushrooms.
- Cheese and crackers
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- Carrot sticks and hummus
- Chocolate-dipped fruit
- Cheese and ham roll-ups