Wondering what to pack for lunch now that your child is starting preschool? Well, so have I and in a moment of brilliance, I asked all my smart mommy friends who already have kids in school. Below is a list of their contributions. It’s especially helpful if you, like me, find that your kids aren’t interested in sandwiches yet.
Main Course (sandwich alternatives)
- Sandwich Roll-Ups – Flatten bread or tortillas, spread with whatever, roll and slice to show spirals. May freeze slightly to make slicing into wheels easier.
- Raisin Bread Fingers – spread with cream cheese, may add apple & dates.
- Graham Crackers – spread with cream cheese or peanut butter or topped with cheese, raisins & app
- Meat Spread – combine 1 c finely chopped cooked beef, chicken, turkey or chicken livers and 1 c chopped celery or onion in a bowl. Add 2-3T mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
We make “homemade” Lunchables. I use a biscuit cutter and cut out rounds of bologna, thick sliced ham or turkey. I also cut out rounds of cheese. I put these in round, small Tupperware containers and then put crackers in a separate container.
- Leftovers that are ok chilled or room temp – pasta/mac n cheese/ cut-up chicken and rice
- Hummus and lettuce sandwiches
- Egg salad, light cream cheese on wheat bread (sometimes with jelly)
- Cooked chicken nuggets or sliced hot dogs (only when past choking age) in a thermos with a side of ketchup
- Greek salad (grape leaves, olives, feta cheese with chopped lettuce
- Whole wheat pasta with chopped broccoli, olives, feta or parmesian cheese, touch of oliveoil
- Whole wheat pasta with chopped egg and a touch of mayo
- Lox, tomato and cream cheese on a whole wheat bagel or the english muffin;salmon salad on whole grain bread or on lettuce
- Ham or turkey and cheese, cubed, with wheat crackers
My youngest son loves cold pasta (after seeing my first child eating it I know a lot of kids started bringing it to preschool too)…I make wheat elbows or rotini and top it with a little parmesan cheese
- Mini whole wheat pitas or bagels filled with: – cream cheese and jelly- cream cheese and smoked salmon- cream cheese blended with raisins- peanut butter and banana- jam and banana- egg salad
- “Cracker sandwiches” with stone wheat crackers and turkey or peanut butter
- Breaded chicken cutlets (leftover from dinner) cut up and cold for lunch
- Small yogurts (the mousse kind by Danon sticks best to the spoon for less mess but only comes in vanilla)
In the winter I sometimes give them Chicken Noodle or Tomato soup in a Thermos (I didn’t start this until Kindergarten).
- Celery Sticks, Carrot Sticks, Bread Sticks, Pita Wedges or Rice Cakes spread with- peanut butter- cream cheese, raisins & sunflower seeds- cream cheese blended with apples and dates- a creamy dip or dressing- hummus
- 1/2 of a pitted avocado… I just squeeze a little lemon on it and send it in with a plastic spoon.
- Ants on a log: celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese, with a few raisins on top
- Cucumber sandwiches – sliced rounds with cream cheese in the middle
- Steamed broccoli or green beans (so they’re softer but still crisp) with Ranch or Caesar dressing or hummus
- String cheese, pretzels, goldfish, chewy granola bars, peanut butter crackers, yogurt or yogurt drinks (these can double as main course items if yours is picky like mine)!
- Sliced carrots/peppers with a side of Ranch dressing if they want it
- Graham sticks (Earth’s Best)
- Trader Joes rice and seaweed snacks and soy chips (high protein, low fat)
- Trader Joes dried apple rings or dry mango
- Veggie Booty, Pirate Booty
- Shelled edamame is a fun vegetable.
- Stonybrook Farm smaller sized yogurt smoothies
- Baby Bell cheese (cute and fun for them to unwrap the wax covering)
- Corn nuts, sesame sticks, yogurt covered raisins for fun snack
- Veggies fries or pita chips
- Cut up strawberries dusted with powdered sugar (they LOVE these), peeled apples with caramel (individual caramel sold in produce dept.- especially this time of year).
- Any kinds of berries in season
- Dried fruit: apricots, raisins—even prunes! I also pack cut up pears
I also find that any fresh fruit that is cubed and served with a toothpick for eating goes over well. It is the toothpick that is magical, I believe.
- Pudding snacks
- Rice crispy treats (pre-packed), sweet snack items
- Mini-packaged applesauce
- Cookies: Fig Newman’s, ginger snaps, chocolate chip cookies, Nilla wafers
- Mini muffins
- Homemade oatmeal cookies
- Fruit bites
- Small bottled water or low-sugar, high vitamin/calcium juice box/drinks
- Lemon or grapeade juice box (no sugar added)
- Apple or grape juice
- Chocolate milk (this always makes my daughter happy!)