If you’ve been reading here any length of time, I’m sure you’ve figured out that I’m far from a gourmet chef. But, I have two little ones who depend on me to prepare meals everyday, so I’ve figured out a few reliable meals for kids. Here are some of my tried-and-true lunch ideas for preschooler and baby!
There’s a meme that makes the rounds in Facebook mom groups every now and then that goes, “Why do they want dinner every single night?” And I “like” it every time it pops up on my feed. Because I am not a chef. At all.
As much as I hate cooking, though, I’ve had to figure out some meals for my little ones. Because, turns out, it’s not acceptable to feed them cereal for dinner every night.
For reference, I have a 3-year-old and 8-month-old. My 3-year-old, Colton, doesn’t like most foods that are mixed together. For example, he will eat cheese, meat, and bread, but he won’t eat a sandwich. Or he will eat tortilla chips, beans, and shredded cheese, but he won’t eat nachos.
So, I usually serve “deconstructed” meals. Which is a really fancy way of saying that I throw stuff on a plate and make sure that nothing touches each other.
Here’s an example of a meal from the other day:
Colton’s meal consisted of:
- HappyTot Whole Milk Yogurt
- Apple Slices
- Grapes [sliced]
- Colby-Jack Cheese
- Wheat Crackers
- HappyBaby Baby’s First Whole Milk Yogurt
- Colby-Jack Cheese
[Click here for the grippy plate we use for her. It’s a hand-me-down from Colton, hence the blue. #secondchild]
As you can see, I try to give Blair a lot of the same things that Colton eats… just in baby-sized portions. Her apples and cheese are cut in smaller pieces, and I omitted the wheat crackers because I thought they would be too hard for her to chew.
The HappyFamily brand is a great fit for our family because they have the HappyTot yogurts [great for Colton’s age!], plus the HappyBaby versions that are sized just right for Blair. Plus, there are no added sweeteners.
Clearly, Blair approves.
Some of our other favorite foods are:
- Yogurt Parfaits: Break up a granola bar in yogurt [these work best], add fruit of choice.
- Homemade “Lunchables”: Deli Meat, Cheese, and Saltine Crackers
- Saltine Crackers + Peanut Butter
- Beef Stew: A good way to sneak in some vegetables, because everything in a stew just tastes like stew.
- Quesadilla: Sometimes I use the quesadilla maker, other times Colton just wants a tortilla and some cold cheese.
- Kabobs: Mix meat + cheese or various fruits on a stick. Instant fun.
- Cheese + Pretzels: Tear a cheese stick into 1″ long pieces, then poke a pretzel stick in each one.
- Fruit: Favorites are apples, mandarin oranges, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, pears, and raisins.
As you can see, I’m not reinventing the wheel with any of this. My main criteria for preschool lunch ideas are: 1] quick and 2] easy. I hope these easy preschooler and baby lunch ideas help some of you, though.
When I was a first time mom, I Googled “baby lunch ideas” on a fairly regular basis. And everything was either purees [which both of my babies disliked] or extremely complicated. And I was over here like, hello, I have a baby, I don’t have time to make my own bread dough or whatever.
Especially because, let’s be honest: your kid isn’t going to eat 90% of what you prepare anyway. And that’s being generous.
So stick to the quick and easy meals. You’ll save time and sanity in the kitchen, and my kids like this stuff more anyway.