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Make & Take: Realistic School Lunch Ideas (& the Gear!) for Toddlers

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had with Wyndham beginning kindergarten has been lunch. Not so much in making his lunch, because yes. Foodie mom, right here.

It has moreso been in getting him to eat it. I’m walking a fine line between catering to my child with over-the-top, time-consuming lunches and making creative, bright, tasty, healthy food options. Anyone with toddlers knows that getting them to eat when they are in your company produces enough of a challenge.

Never mind when they aren’t in our care. I’m pretty passionate about making food fun, delicious, and healthy for my kids, so. Naturally I have some tips and ideas to share with y’all. Because making food for toddlers does require a little bit more effort, a little bit more pizazz. If, you know, you’re not a chef at a 5 star restaurant.

My school lunch ideas for toddlers are straight from my kitchen. Not recreating the wheel or anything here, just hoping to inspire. Simple yet creative enough food ideas that you can have packed in your little one’s knapsack in under 10 minutes. Let’s have those containers coming back empty!

  • How We Do 1 of 12
    00-

    10 minute, creative lunch ideas for the pickiest, youngest school go-ers...

  • The Gear 2 of 12
    03-

    I ordered gear from Lunch Bots and LapTop Lunches after doing some research based on reviews and price. As a long-time tupperware hoarder, I knew these would bring a smile to my face every morning (this is important, especially when caffeinated). I also knew that they would last, loved the double insulated snack containers and insulated thermal vessels for hot lunch action. The complete breakdown of what I use is below!

    LunchBots Bento Box Set
    LunchBots Insulated Thermal White
    (Not Shown) LunchBots Rounds Set Black
    Dips Condiment Containers
    Fruit & Veggie Cutters
    Egg/Rice Mold - Bunny & Bear   
    Food Pick - Panda
    Rice Mold/Sandwich Shaper - Bear 

  • Mabel’s Labels FOR LIFE 3 of 12
    04-

    These suckers right here. These last through endless dishwasher runs and washing machine cycles. You can get sweet deals on packages with enough labels to do your kids' clothes, food containers, and shoes. I ordered these last spring and we're still going strong. You really want to label all of the everything that steps foot in daycare, preschool, or kindergarten. Or it goes missing. I learned that a little late in the game.

  • Healthy Mac & Cheese 4 of 12
    01-

    When I don't make Mac & Cheese from scratch, like you know - at 7 in the morning, I whip up a box of Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese. I toss in some chopped carrots from the garden with the noodles while they are cooking and minced spinach at the end when I stir in the powdered cheese, butter and milk. I add some fresh grated cheese too, whatever's on hand. Strawberries and grapes are two of Wyndham's favorite snacks, as is anything from the organic snack line for toddlers from President's Choice.

  • Mix Things Up! 5 of 12
    05-

    I'm a big fan of leftovers for lunch. Especially when it's something so healthy as quinoa salad with tons of fruit and veg in it that my toddler will eat. Raspberries and cubed cantaloupe are also popular snack choices around here.

  • Presentation Is Everything 6 of 12
    09-

    Nothing foreign here. It's all in the presentation, which yes is important when trying to get your toddler to eat their lunch on their own at school. Just is. I can't be alone in that! Carrot sticks (fresh from the garden, which means my toddler eats them up with pride because that really works I've found...grow food with your kids and they'll be more inclined to eat it), banana slices, and granola bar. Sliced ham (leftovers from crock-pot ham) and cheddar cheese wrap rolls. This is where those panda bear food picks come in handy. Lifting up sandwiches and wraps can get tricky for chubby little fingers. This makes it easier AND cute. Wyndham is highly amused by those little picks. Also shown: halved dried prunes and apricots.
    Related: 10 Ideas For Creative Lunch Box Notes

  • Embrace The Sandwich 7 of 12
    02-

    I'm seeing a lot of sandwich alternative lunch ideas on Pinterest these days, which is fine - if your kid is celiac or something. Mine's not. Sandwiches need to be celebrated and embraced. They are easy and yummy. The end. The one shown above is made on sprouted 12 grain spelt bread with leftover roast chicken, avocado mayo, tomatoes (from our garden - yep) and cheddar. Cuke and red pepper sticks (again from our garden). I won't stop testifying to the fact that growing a vegetable garden this summer has been one of the best things I've ever done in my life. Also shown: simple chunks of juicy sweet orange, dried apple slices, and raspberries in those awesome snack containers listed previously. 

  • All Hail Hard Boiled Eggs & Kielbabasa 8 of 12
    07-

    Offering a wide variety of tastes, colors and textures is key when feeding one's toddler - especially when you're not around to cajole them into eating just a bit more! Oh, please more than two bites! I don't always use those little metal fruit and veg cutters, but when I do I feel like a supermom. It's in the little things.
    As Shown:
    Farmer's Market Kielbasa (way better than store-bought, just sayin'. Yes, I am a food snob, and what.)
    Cantaloupe and Dried Cranberries
    Cream Cheese on Toasted Spelt Grain Bagels, Cubed
    Hard Boiled Egg
    Cuke, Pepper, and Carrot Sticks with Hummus

     

  • Snackage 9 of 12
    10-

    Sistema containers are another favourite brand choice around here as they are BPA-free and leak-proof and fun to look at. Yes, that last thing is important to me. Just being honest. I'm trying to get into the habit of doing some baking on the weekend to give Wyndham low carb, (refined) sugar-free, and package-free snack options. Cookies and muffins are always on my list, but I don't always get to it (as the granola bars and other snacks from PC will attest to, which is fine...goals are fine too). Last week, it was banana bread as shown above. WIN.

  • My Panda Bear Food Picks Bring All the Toddlers to the Yard 10 of 12
    11-

    Seriously. Abby tries to get into the cupboard to swipe them and hide them under her pillow, and Wyndham cups them into his hands and talks to them like they are babies. The ECE teacher in Wyndham's class asked where I got them because she wants to get them for her kids and she told me Wyndham gets ooo's and ahh's from other kids at lunch. That's got to count for something, right? I mean, FOOD PICKS. Who knew? (Just in case you thought them to be a silly purchase. Maybe, maybe not.)

  • Leftovers FTW 11 of 12
    06-

    A most popular, obvious hot lunch idea would be spaghetti, right? Bison Bolognese as shown above with lots of grated asiago cheese. Tru Roots ancient grain pasta if you're wondering. Homemade muffins. I did it once! Grapes. Red Pepper and carrot sticks. And scene. 

  • Fruit Cutters In Action 12 of 12
    08-

    Time consuming, maybe. Adorable? Damn straight. Well received? Indubitably. Wasteful? Not if you use the scraps for your morning smoothie, which I do. Speaking of which, I just ordered these to give Wyndham smoothies at school!

 

Hey there Babble readers! If you didn’t know, I have an awesome Halloween giveaway happening on my personal blog this week with Wild Things Dresses! Check it out by clicking here!

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More Babbles From Selena…

Selena is a crafty, culinary mom. Regular writer here and on Disney Baby. Part-time mischief maker, all the time geek. 

Elsewhere on the internets…

Via her humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve

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