When it comes to packing preschool or day care lunch, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out what. What to put in those little containers. What won’t get sent home uneaten. What is or isn’t allowed in the classroom. That what requires a lot of thinking for a tired mama at 7 a.m.
I often turn to pictures to tell me what to pack. I’m not kidding, I’ve started snapping quick pics of lunches before I close them up so I can remember what worked without thinking too hard. And I’ve become incredibly adept at using leftovers in the lunch box, so that food doesn’t get wasted in our house. Case in point…lunch #1.
1. Leftover Mac ‘n Cheese Lunch
Using up that last cup of mac ‘n cheese left over from last night’s dinner? Priceless. My kiddo prefers it cold (weird!) but it can go in a thermos for most kids. This meal needed some protein, so I threw in some almonds — which are allowed at our school — but some salted edamame could serve the same purpose.
2. Cleaning Out The Veggie Tray
I buy a huge veggie tray every week and we munch on it at dinner if I don’t have time to make sides. When it dwindles down to just a few left, I throw it in my little guy’s lunch. It is important to note, he WILL NOT TOUCH THESE VEGGIES unless there is ranch dip. Also, for protein he gets pistachios. (If not allowed, sub some edamame or even some peanut butter and more celery for dipping.) For drinks, I alternate between water and juice. I like the Mott’s because it’s a nice big pouch and is 100% juice, which means no added sugar.
3. The Last Slice Of Pizza
This is my preschooler’s FAVORITE lunch. He’d eat it every day. I cut the leftover pizza in small wedges and pair it with some apples and his favorite vanilla cookie. To keep the apples from turning brown, I have a little spray bottle with a lemon juice/water mixture that I spray on before closing them up.
4. Souper Noodle Lunch
We make a BIG pot of chicken noodle soup fairly often because we can eat off it all week. It’s such an easy thing to throw in a lunch box, especially for a kid that prefers a “hot” lunch. I paired it with some vanilla yogurt and blackberries and it all came back empty! As a side note, that Mott’s Apple Mango pouch is my kids’ absolute favorite.
5. The Hors D’Oeuvres Lunch
My kids call this the “Lunchables” lunch, because I won’t buy the pre-made version at the store. But I will give them some good crackers, real cheese, and fresh salami or sausage. Throw in a banana and some raisins and this lunch is FILLING. But somehow the cookie always gets eaten!
I find that using three containers of varying sizes works perfectly. I have two sets so I can mix and match as needed. Having the containers helps so much because it gives you a framework of “what can I fill this with?” I set them in the box, then start rummaging for things in the fridge and pantry that will fill them up and provide a balanced meal.
What goes in your preschooler’s lunch box?
This post is sponsored by Mott’s.