Are you tired of coming up with easy school lunch ideas for your children? I have two little ones and we are already running around like crazy in the mornings before preschool/daycare – we don’t need the added stress of trying to come up with what to pack in their lunchbox!
After numerous stressful mornings trying to pull together a semi-decent and healthy lunch for my kids, I decided enough was enough and I was going to eliminate the extra thinking (and decision fatigue) in the mornings. I created a master list of all the school lunch ideas to choose from. No more frantic searching of the refrigerator and pantry to come up with ideas of what to pack! We simply refer to the printable checklist of easy and quick lunchbox ideas, and in no time have a complete, healthy meal to send them off to school!
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What to pack?
As my daughters are toddlers and in preschool and daycare, they can bring in either hot or cold lunches and their teachers will heat it up for them (if needed.) But, if they bring a lunch to be heated, they need to wait while their friends are eating, so we try to not always rely on hot lunches. (And, when they start kindergarten, they will not have the luxury of hot lunches anymore!)
They typically will get one main meal, three to four snacks, and a drink. The list below separates each food by category (main meals (including both hot and cold; sandwiches and non-sandwiches), dairy, fruit and vegetables, other snacks, and desserts. You can pick and choose from the list to fit your child best.
Lunch Ideas – Main Meals (Sandwich and Non-Sandwich Options)
Bagel and cream cheese
Cheese and crackers
Chicken salad sandwich
Deli meat and cheese roll ups
Deli meat and cheese sandwich
Dr. Praeger’s Spinach Littles
Egg salad/Egg salad sandwich
Eggs in a wrap
Grilled cheese sandwich
Homemade “hot pockets”
Mac and cheese
Make your own pizzas (crackers, sauce, cheese)
Meatballs and pasta
Meatballs and BBQ sauce (frozen meatballs, cooked and covered in BBQ sauce and cheese)
Pasta and butter
Pasta and meatballs
Pasta salad (pasta and Italian dressing)
Pita bread with hummus, cucumbers, and tomatoes
Quesadilla (cheese, chicken and cheese, or beans and cheese)
Quinoa salad (quinoa, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers)
Sun butter and jelly sandwich (or Peanut Butter if your school allows)
Tacos (chicken or beef, beans, cheese, guacamole, salsa)
Waffle with cream cheese and jelly
Lunch Ideas – Fruits and Vegetables
Baby carrots (and ranch)
Grapes (cut the long way)
Red pepper slices
Lunch Ideas – Snacks and Treats
Graham crackers (and cream cheese)
Granola Bars/ LaraBars/Cliff Bars
Yogurt (containers, tubes, pouches)
Helpful Supplies for School Lunches
Bring some fun to your lunches with these fun sandwich cutters. (In full transparency, I actually sell these on Amazon under the brand name Sweet Honey Bee and Me.) With two young children, and my husband who is a pediatric feeding therapist, we frequently have to get creative around mealtime to encourage eating. These fun shaped sandwich cutters make mealtime so much easier. Not only are they fun for the children and encourage imaginary play, but they can be used to facilitate language and encourage trying new foods for the picky eater. (And they are good for non-sandwich options too; from waffles to pancakes to watermelon!)
Silicone Popsicle Molds (for homemade frozen smoothies)
Free Printable – Easy School Lunch Ideas
Do you have any other toddler lunch ideas for daycare that you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments.