The best way to make sure your preschooler is getting a healthy, balanced lunch is to pack a homemade bag lunch. For busy moms on the go, it can be difficult to come up with fast and nutritious foods to fill a lunchbox or brown bag every day, but it can be done if you just plan ahead! Pack your child’s lunch the night before, and have it ready to go for morning. It will be one less thing off your to-do list during the morning craze.
Looking for some great ideas for a healthy lunch? Try some of these quick, nutritious options that will keep your preschooler full of energy and on a healthy eating track.
The sandwich standards can get a little repetitive, and aren’t always the healthiest either. But don’t toss sandwiches out – they are a convenient lunch than can easily be packed with delicious and nutritious fillings.
A good sandwich starts with good bread. Ditch the white bread and choose a whole grain option instead. If your child hasn’t had whole grain bread before, start with a smoother option that doesn’t contain whole seeds or pieces of grain. The fresher the better – unless you are toasting the bread, which won’t work well for a sandwich that isn’t being eaten right away, soft fresh bread is best. As an alternative, try a tortilla or pita to fill instead of using slices of bread. It will break up the monotony and come along with some fun new filling ideas.
A little tired of the old peanut butter and jam routine? Take a cue from Elvis and swap the jam for slices of banana. Toss them in a little lemon juice first to prevent browning, and then layer thin slices in between peanut butter coated bread. Or mix things up even more by trying almond butter as an alternative. Check with your child’s preschool before sending any nut-based food, however, as some have bans due to allergies.
Most kids like ham & cheese – but not every day. Offer different types of cheese and deli meats for new tastes. Don’t forget fresh lettuce and tomatoes, but package them separately to avoid sogginess. Nobody likes a soggy sandwich!
Quick and Healthy Sides
Fruits and vegetables make a perfect addition to your preschooler’s lunch. Whole or sliced apples, berries and bananas are all great choices. Add a yogurt dip to make them extra fun and tasty. Chopped fresh veggies with a little ranch for dipping are also a perfect choice. Throw in an applesauce cup if you don’t have time for cutting up fresh fruit.
Another great choice to add to the sandwich is a little baggie of trail mix made at home. Mix together raisins and other dried fruit with nuts (again, check regulations) and whole grain dry cereals for a crunchy treat that is full of great nutrition. Make up a big batch and keep servings ready to go.
When packing a beverage for your child, it’s ok to choose a juice box – just make sure your selection is 100% juice, and choose the smaller juice boxes that are intended for younger kids, so that they avoid drinking too much. A preschooler should stay under 6 ounces of a juice for the day, so one juice box will probably be it.
To make a fun drink that doesn’t have as much sugar, mix a little fruit juice with sparkling water in a bottle with a tightly fitting lid. It’s a perfect alternative to soda and prevents your child from overloading on juice.
A healthy, delicious bag lunch is not too hard to achieve. In fact, making these great lunches for your preschooler might inspire you to bring your own lunch to work too!