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Daycare Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

lunch logoEvery morning while my son eats breakfast, I pack his little lunchbox. It’s a chore that I’m not crazy about and I will be doing it for another 15 years. I’ve mentioned it several times before, but it’s true – while we spend a ridiculous amount of money on our son’s daycare “tuition,” we have to send lunch from home every day. Most daycare centers provide snacks and meals – ours provides snacks, but that’s it! For some parents, that might be a deal-breaker but to me, it was music to my ears. It’s no secret that I like control and now I could make sure that my picky kid was getting food that I knew he would eat and I never had to stress about “hot dog days.”

The school’s requirement is that each lunch must contain the following:

  • 1 grain
  • 2 fruits and/or vegetables
  • 1 protein
  • 1 dairy

They provide organic milk at lunch, so that gives me wiggle room with protein and dairy (the milk they provide can be the protein or the diary). I also send a little treat every day because:

  1. My mom did the same for me.
  2. Harry is a string-bean and I don’t worry about calories.
  3. Everything in moderation.

I also tend to keep fruit/vegetables as non-perishable and easy-to-grab. I do tend to send little tupperwares of green beans since that’s his favorite veggie (I didn’t do that this week) but keeping it to the raisins-applesauce-pouch variety also reduces waste – if he doesn’t touch those that day, they send them home. If I send a fresh apple or banana and he doesn’t touch it, it goes in the trash. I don’t know. It’s weird, but whatever. File that under stuff I can’t control. My only true irritation with the whole lunch-packing bit is being required to label every single darn thing. I talk about that here. Yes, I’m still irritated but yes, I label religiously now.

It should also be said that my son’s favorite sandwich EVER is a cheese sandwich. I tend to call it a “Wish Sandwich” because I wish there was something in it except cheese. But nope, that is his thing and he loves it. I suppose it’s no different than the kid who only eats chicken nuggets or cottage cheese.

So for you fellow mommas who have to send lunch every day, here’s a bit of what I send. Do you have any standby’s that you send? What are some of your favorites? I’m always looking for new things that are easy!

If your daycare provides your child’s lunch, do they like it? Do you ever wish you could send stuff or are you knowing the day will come soon enough with kindergarten?

psssst, here’s some really darling lunch boxes to put the lunch in!

 

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  • Monday 1 of 5
    Monday
    On Mondays, I try extra-hard to send stuff I know he enjoys just to make the transition back to school more enjoyable and to make sure he eats well.

    cheese sandwich - grain and protein
    Earth's Best Banana Blueberry Pouch: Vegetable/Fruit
    Mott's Medley's Applesauce: Vegetable/Fruit
    Fruit Snacks for treat
  • Tuesday 2 of 5
    Tuesday
    Harry didn't eat much for breakfast this day, so I made sure to send things that I knew he'd eat, plus some Goldfish as a filler in case he was very hungry from the lack of breakfast. The amount I send really ebbs and flows with his moods and appetite!

    cheese sandwich - grain and protein
    GoGo Squeeze Applesauce: Vegetable/Fruit
    SunMaid Raisins: Vegetable/Fruit
    Goldfish crackers - grain
    Hershey Kiss as a treat!
  • Wednesday 3 of 5
    Wednesday
    This is a go-to lunch for hurried mornings because it requires no packing or creating. I just toss it all in!

    cereal bar - grain and fruit
    GoGo Squeeze Applesauce: Vegetable/Fruit
    Cheese stick - protein
    Banana - Vegetable/Fruit
    Fruit snacks as a treat!
  • Thursday 4 of 5
    Thursday
    Valentine's Day! I cut the sandwich into a shape of a heart and tried to pick all red foods.

    cheese sandwich - grain and protein
    Earth's Best Apple Peach Oatmeal pouch - Vegetable/Fruit
    Strawberries - Vegetable/Fruit
    Hershey Kiss as a treat!
  • Friday 5 of 5
    Friday
    Leftovers from my date night with my husband! I portioned out a small bit for Harry to take to school - it was a "mega food" that hit THREE food group criterias!

    Leftover spaghetti & meatballs - protein and grain and vegetable
    Mott's Medleys applesauce - Vegetable/Fruit
    Fruit snacks as a treat!

BA writes really cool stuff:

Toddler lunchboxes don’t have to suck.

This is why mothers are tired all the time.

 

18 awesome dollhouses, both DIY & store-bought

Parenting is amazing.

Parenting sucks, y’all.

My favorite Etsy stuff.

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures at Okay, BA! You can also find her on the Twitters & Facebook.

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