Lunch Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers

preschool lunch ideas 1

So you have finally come to grips with the fact that your little one is going to daycare or mother’s day out. Now you realize that you have to pack them a lunch. What do I give to a kid that just learned to walk for lunch? Here are some lunch ideas for toddlers and preschoolers from a veteran Dad with a background in the restaurant industry.

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preschool lunch ideas 1

Keep It Simple

Your little one is not going to be putting anyone on the chopping block. They will not be impressed with elaborate creations, and the preparation will take more time and energy. A thin slice of ham or turkey, rolled-up and sliced into Roulades is one fun idea. Spread thin layer of cream cheese on the slice before rolling to help keep it rolled. Use small flour tortillas with mayo and meat to make mini pinwheels to mix things up.

Lunch Ideas for Little People

Smaller Portions

You know that your toddler doesn’t eat much, so don’t pack a ton because it will be wasted. Three compartment Tupperware or Snap-tite containers are ideal. Protein, produce, and dessert or snack is all your little one needs. Fancy lunch kits could become an issue if your tyke can’t operate it efficiently in the allotted time for lunch. Teaching independence seems to be a recurring theme at early learning centers.

Cut Small

Your child will be using their fingers to eat and will be eating with several other kids. Cut grapes and strawberries into bite sized ( Theirs not yours) pieces. Slice grapes two times into four equivalent quarters. Clementine (Cuties) wedges can be left whole if your child is accustomed to them. Portioning is really a matter of the child’s experience with the foods she will be eating aligned with your comfort level of them eating it away from you.

Softer Foods

Give them foods that will be easy to chew like bananas or soft cookies.  Goldfish or dry cereal are good but only if your munchkin has tried these items at home. Another option is the squeeze packs of fruit purée or apple sauce. These do not require refrigeration and are fun for them to eat. Teach your toddler to open these items on their own so they won’t have to wait for assistance from a grownup. Should the packaging be too hard due to a safety seal, just twist it loose to break the seal then twist it back just enough to keep it from spilling. String Cheese and Cheddar Cheese Sticks sliced into circles and squares is also a great lunchtime idea.

For more lunch ideas check out our Lunch Ideas Pinterest Board. 

Do you have any lunch ideas for toddlers and preschoolers?  Let us know in the comments.

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About the author

Avatar of Lisa


Lisa is a mother to an awesome son and daughter. She has been married for 22 years to her lobster. She attended UNO more years ago than she would like to admit and has a full time job in the CBD. She grew up in Jefferson Parish and now lives on the Northshore. She loves spending her weekends gallivanting the area from Nola to Biloxi with her family and vacationing as much as her pocketbook and vacation time will allow. She loves Disney. She has a scrapbook habit that connects her with friends. She is a Christian that tries to walk the right path but stumbles a lot.

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