What to Put In Your Small Kids Lunch Box? 6 Teacher-Approved Tips
Deciding what to put in your small kid’s lunchbox every day can feel like a daunting task: finding the right balance between healthy items, choosing things they will actually eat, and making sure everything stays cold throughout their school day. So, what should you put in your small kids’ lunch box?
Here are some teacher-approved things for what to put in your small kids’ lunch boxes:
- Healthy Foods – Yogurt, Applesauce, String Cheese, etc…
- Variety of the Food Groups – Fruits, Veggies, Proteins, and Grains
- Easy-to-Eat Food and Snacks
- Healthy Snacks – Fruit and Nuts
- Special Treat – Cupcake or Muffin
With so much to consider and countless potential combinations, it can be difficult to know exactly what goes into the perfect kids’ lunches. But don’t worry! We’ve done all the work for you with this list of teacher-approved lunch ideas that both parents and children love – simple yet delicious recipes that are easy to prepare, nutritional enough to meet their daily needs, and fun enough to get them excited about eating healthier!
1. Pack Healthy Items like String Cheese, Applesauce, and Yogurt
Packing healthy foods can make a big difference when it comes to keeping your little one’s body strong and energized. Filling up on items like string cheese, applesauce, and yogurt is an excellent way to help ensure that their diet includes the right amount of nutrients. These snacks are easily portable, offering convenience if you’re constantly on the go. Plus, they’re often low in calories and fat so you don’t have to worry about taking in too many extra (unnecessary) calories. All in all, packing healthy items like string cheese, applesauce, and yogurt can be a great way to ensure that your little one is ready to tackle whatever the day throws at a time.
2. Include Variety – Include Different Types of Fruits, Veggies, Proteins, and Grains
Variety is the spice of life, and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to making sure our diets are balanced and nutritionally sound. To optimize your little ones’ intake, it is important to have a mix of all food groups – fruits, vegetables, protein sources, and grains. Eating different types of each group can give your little one an array of micronutrients that otherwise wouldn’t be available in excess through just one type of food. A great hack for lunchtime packing is to create a cheat sheet. List each group and the foods your little one will eat from that group, then you can rotate through and pick one from each category to make the decisions easier.
3. Cut Up Foods Into Small Pieces for Easy-to-Eat Snacks
If you can make the eating process easier for your little one it makes all the difference for the lunchtime rush. By cuttings things into bite sizes pieces, they can easily pop them into their mouth and have more time to eat. Plus it reduces mess when they don’t have to fight past big bulky food items to take a bite. And you’re little one can eat more efficiently. So making easy finger foods and bite-size things for your little one is a great way to ensure they have enough time to eat their entire lunch and not have to rush through anything.
4. Put in Healthy Snacks like Fruits and/or Nuts
It can be hard to get your little ones to eat healthy foods. But if you can include something they’ll eat that’s healthy, it will give them a great dose of healthy nutrients to support their energy levels throughout the day. It may take some work on your part to get creative with what they’ll eat and what you can include. But even just a piece of fruit is a great healthy but sweet treat for them.
5. Put in a Cupcake or Muffin as a Treat Occasionally
The occasional treat of a cupcake or muffin is a great way to reward your little one, ease stress, and satisfy a craving. They’re not great to pack in every day, because food can affect dental health. An occasional treat once in a while for your little one is great. A great time would be to add one in on a day you know they have a test, are nervous about something, or just had a rough morning. It can really brighten their day when they open up their lunch to an unexpected treat.
6. Don’t Forget to Include a Drink!
Water is always the best thing to drink, so including a water bottle for your little one can help to encourage them to drink their water. If you’d like to change it up you can include milk or a juice box too. No matter what you do, ensure that they can open the container of their drink. Maybe it means putting their drink into a thermos and showing them how to open that. Or, maybe getting a reusable bottle to put their drink in can help make it easier for them to get to their drink without all the packaging.
Helpful Tips & Tricks
Make packages easy to open for your little one
If you’re packing food for children, it’s wise to opt for items that are easy to open and don’t require a lot of prep. Having foods like pre-cut fruits and vegetables or ready-made sandwiches can save time while still providing them with the nutrients they need. Additionally, look out for individually-packaged snacks such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to prevent messes and conserve time. Lastly, if you’re packing drinks for them, consider buying ones with straws or wide mouth openings that are easy for little hands to access. Doing so will encourage your children to eat their food quickly and efficiently.
Work with your little one to practice opening the packages
To ensure that your children are comfortable with opening the packages, it’s helpful to practice with them beforehand. Doing so will help make the transition easier for them and keep them from feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. Additionally, it will also give you some peace of mind knowing that they can easily access their food when on the go. Practice with them until they feel confident and comfortable enough to do it on their own.
If you can reduce the amount of packaging your little one has to deal with, it will make lunchtime go much smoother and faster. This may mean teaching them how to open a sandwich bag and put bulk-packaged items, or prepackaged items into a sandwich bag for them. Or it may mean doing some creative prep work for them when you pack their lunch.
Can their lunch box pass the open test?
Most schools have 30 minutes or less for lunchtime. If your child can’t open their lunch box, and packaging, and eat in that time frame or less… they won’t be able to finish all their lunch before lunchtime is us. Plus, if they have to wait for the teacher to help them open up about something, they’re losing even more valuable time. So make sure they can open it all and eat it all in 30 minutes or less.
Cut down on packaging & containers
Containers like bento boxes are so popular because you can put all (or most) of your child’s food in them. Then all your little one has to do is open up that one container. So consider containers that make it faster for them, like Bento Boxes or other similar containers to cut down on the number of things they have to open.
Packing healthy snacks doesn’t have to be a chore. Just remember to include a variety of items like string cheese, yogurt, and cut-up sandwiches or wraps. Fruits, veggies, and complex carbohydrates are all important components of a balanced snack and helps with kids with their academic performance. It’s easy to put together snack packs with individual packages of nuts, seeds, or dried fruits. An occasional cupcake or muffin can add some joy to the mix — just don’t forget the reusable water bottle! With just a little preparation and planning ahead of time, you can make sure your family is never left searching for that perfect snack!