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3 Packable Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

3 Packable Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

The lazy summer days are coming to a close, and your toddler is headed back to daycare or preschool — what to pack for lunch?

As moms, we're always interested in getting our kids to eat balanced, healthy meals, and back-to-school season is a great time to help your child try new foods, especially if she's a picky eater. Here, four tips to make her lunch into an eating adventure.

1. The Bento Box Approach

Give your child her favorite food every day, but slyly add other tempting choices to the mix. You might be surprised one day to find that your picky eater has turned a corner, especially when a classmate expresses interest in her food. Many kids will more easily try new foods in a group setting than at home, so give it a go!


Practically speaking, Elizabeth B. prefers a bento box with small compartments for different items. We use a homemade version of this approach, small metal (rather than plastic) containers inside a Snoopy lunchbox our son loves. This approach gives you the most possibility of succeeding with something, as you can offer small portions of multiple foods. My 27-month-old loves steamed carrots and green beans, hummus, mozzarella balls, whole wheat bread or crackers, and fruit of any kind.

2. Pasta Variations

If variety is important to you, try variations on Italian classics. Amy D.'s kids love her mix of pasta, peppers, and olives, and other possibilities include a simple tomato sauce you can make in advance, with grated parmesan for protein. Zucchini can also be a big hit with little ones: Just slice, saute and toss with any pasta. If your toddler is a bit more adventuresome, try Asian variations, such as rice noodles sauteed in sesame oil with soy sauce and veggies. The beauty of any of these dishes is that they're highly portable — and they're as good at room temperature as warm, not to mention perfect for your own lunch!

3. Yogurts and Salads

Yogurt is a healthy and versatile base for both sweet and savory items, from simple sliced strawberries to diced chicken salad. Egg salad is another winner with many kids, and you can dress it up as you like, with olives, tomatoes, scallions — even smoked salmon, which many little ones love.

Don't be afraid to try foods that you like, but that your child hasn't yet been exposed to. Very often, if your toddler sees you eating something, he or she will be curious. And ask what friends at school eat. You might get some good ideas from your child, who has certainly been paying attention, or from other parents. Start experimenting; your toddler will let you know what's working!


Image Source: Courtesy of staleyenglishmanor via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
jennysaulavila jennysaulavila 5 years
Sigh - too much stuff that requires utensil use. But I do like the bento box idea for finger foods - my son will be 20 months old when he starts daycare this fall, but he is just learning utensils & has a LONG way to go.
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