In our house, breakfast and dinner tend to be the most nutritious meals. If its the weekend we usually pack a healthy snack in replace of lunch to take with us to the beach or on a hike if we are on the go. During the week for my son’s school lunch I try to make something that is quick and easy to put together, that doesn’t look too different from what other kids are eating, and that he will enjoy eating.
To make things as easy as possible I created a rotating lunch plan/template for my kids lunch and put it on the fridge for an easy reminder. I change it up every couple of months. Here is the one we have right now:
Preschool Lunch Template:
Mondays & Tuesdays: Meat, Potatoes, & Fruit/Veggie tray
Wednesdays & Thursdays: Bento Box & Dry snack bag
Fridays: Pizza, Fruit/Veggie Tray, & Meat stick
Meat: If we have leftover cooked meat that we made over the weekend such as: steak, chicken thigh, pork loin, hamburger, etc. then I will cut that up in small bite size pieces and put in a small glass pyrex storage dish that can be easily re-heated at Wyatt’s school. On the days we don’t have leftover cooked meat then I rotate between apple chicken sausage (we like Adelles) and 100% grassfed beef hotdogs (we like Applegate) for Wyatt’s lunch.
Potatoes: If we have leftover gold/purple/red potatoes from dinner cooked over the weekend then those will go into a separate glass pyrex storage container for easy re-heating in his lunch. If not then he will have sweet potato. About once every other month I will bake a large batch of sweet potatoes, remove skins, mash them, and then put them in ice-cube size freezer trays to freeze, then pop them out into a gallon size zip lock back to keep in the freezer. I will usually put 3-4 sweet potato cubes into a small glass pyrex dish for Wyatt’s lunch.
Fruit & Veggie tray: We have a small stainless steel container with a divider in the middle which is perfect for holding 1 fruit serving and 1 veggie serving. The types of fruit we put in here changes constantly depending on what is in season. Some fruit that keeps well are: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, melon, plums, grapes, mandarins, and apples (slices and put a little lemon juice on it to keep it from browning). Kid friendly veggies that we usually rotate through are: carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, and bell pepper (red or orange).
An example of leftover chicken thigh, frozen sweet potato, and a fruit & veggie tray:
An example of meat & potato lunch day:
I will make sweet potato in large batches and freeze into cubes and then use this as a potato for Wyatt’s lunch on some weeks as well:
This is the best invention ever because it is so easy to put together quickly, keeps foods from touching each other, and is super easy to clean out. The bento box we have has 2 large openings and 3 small openings.
For the first large opening we will have a “bready” item. We rotate between a homemade protein waffle with butter or we will do a nut/seed butter and honey sandwich. You can find my gluten-free waffle recipe here. For the days we do a sandwich we use a gluten free store bought bread. It’s not perfect but I try to pick a brand with simple and clean ingredients. Almond butter is my preferred nut butter, but if your kid goes to a nut-free school like ours does then you can use sunbutter. Check to make sure it doesn’t have any added sugar. It’s better to add a little honey. We get local unfiltered raw honey. It also has less sugar than jam does. Don’t get me wrong I am not promoting a nut butter sandwhich as a health food, I know its mostly empty carbs. However, my son begs me for this because he loves it and his friends have them. I would rather him feel comfortable at school and have something he likes a few time a week even if its not a ‘perfect healthy’ food. We have to give a little sometimes to have balance. 🙂
For the second large opening we will have a seasonal fruit.
For the 3 small openings I will usually do: a veggie and then 2 proteins. Usually sliced deli meat in one spot (either organic turkey or ham) and then sliced cheese in the last opening. Wyatt doesn’t do well with cows dairy so we do sheeps dairy. Manchego has a very mild delicious taste and is very kid friendly. Sometimes when we are out of Manchego I just put in an extra fruit. For the veggies we often rotate between cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers.
Dry snack: This changes as we try new things but right now we are rotating between gluten-free pretzels and seaweed snacks. We also like 100% grassfed beef sticks with no added preservatives and organic spices. My favorite brands are Nicks Sticks and Paleo Valley.
A few examples of a Bento box lunch:
Pizza: At my sons school they have pizza day every Friday where they order in pizza. My son doesn’t eat gluten or cows dairy so I make our own pizza in bulk about once a month or so and freeze the slices. I like Capellos naked crust. I use organic marinara, mild italian pork sausage, applegate turkey pepperoni, and shredded manchego for Wyatt’s pizza. I will add veggies and olives to my pizza but Wyatt prefers meat and cheese only with his veggies on the side. Here is an example of Wyatt’s pizza that I make in a large batch and then put in freezer for his Friday lunches:
Now that I am a momma of two boys and work full time I need methods that are quick and easy. I find it much easier to prepare a couple of things once per month and freeze. Also, to have specific lunch items always on hand. Then lastly, I find it very helpful to have a lunch template so that I don’t have to think about what to make for my son’s school lunch when I just have only a few minutes to assemble it. We change it up every few months so it doesn’t get boring, but overall I try to keep it pretty simple. I hope this was helpful and gave you some ideas for what kind of lunch template you can make for your little preschooler. Also, I’d love to hear about your ideas. Comment below!