Finding easy and fun daycare lunch ideas for toddlers and preschoolers can be challenging! I find that sometimes as parents we sometimes tend to overcomplicate things like this by simply overthinking them (myself included)!
We always want our kids to eat healthy, but sometimes life gets to busy and eating healthy foods gets put on the back burner.
The good news is that if you can keep your kiddos fed at home, you can put together easy daycare lunches for them! I have put together a few ideas that might help you with daycare lunch inspiration for your toddler!
How to make daycare lunches fun
Even as adults eating the same few meals over and over again can get boring. When putting together a daycare lunch for my toddler, here are a few things I like to keep in mind:
- Include different colors, tastes, and textures.
- Do a few smaller portions of several foods to help keep their interest.
- Use different shaped food cutters and muffin cups like this set from Amazon.
- These cute bento lunch boxes have different designs to pick from and multiple compartments for food.
How to Make Daycare Lunches Healthy
It may be tempting to send a prepackaged lunch for your toddler, and from time to time that may be necessary. However, it is important to send healthy meals and snacks to daycare; In my house we call them ‘grow foods’. Here are a few ways to help make daycare lunches healthy:
- Send a variety of fruits, veggies, and meats
- Limit the number of processed or pre-packaged foods you send
- Incorporate all the food groups
- Keep foods with added sugar to a minimum
How to Make Daycare Lunches Easy
Making daycare lunches for your toddler can be intimidating, but they don’t have to be difficult! I like to use the acronym K.I.S.S (keep it simple, sis!) Here are a few practical ways to make daycare lunches easier!
- Send foods that your toddler is familiar with and you know they like
- Plan ahead! When making your meal plan for the week, make sure to plan out your toddler’s daycare lunches.
- Review your daycare’s requirements and restrictions to make sure you are in compliance
- Make sure everything you send is cut into pieces easy enough for your toddler to chew and not choke.
- Write out their favorite main dishes/sides on note cards. Keep them in a convenient place for when you are struggling with ideas.
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Daycare lunch Ideas: Main Entree
Alright, now that we have the basics covered let’s get into the yummy ideas for easy toddler lunches! Make sure the items don’t have to be heated for ease at school.
1. Meatball Pita Pockets
These meatball pita pockets look delicious and they are easy to make! They are also a great way to sneak in some veggies with a small pita, meatball, and veggies.
2. Homemade Gluten and Allergy Free Uncrustables
Some daycares are very strict on the food that you are allowed to bring in due to allergy concerns. Luckily, these homemade uncrustables call for sunflower butter and they look so yummy!
3. Hawaiian Pizza Scrolls
If your little one likes pineapple pizza then they will love these Hawaiian pizza scrolls!
4. Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches
These cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches look delicious. Add some shredded turkey, chicken, or ham for a boost of protein.
5. Easy Pepperoni Pizza Muffins
These pepperoni pizza muffins look so yummy and they are so easy that your kiddos can lend a hand! They don’t necessarily need to be heated in school so they’re a perfect daycare or preschool lunch.
6. Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
My kiddos are huge fans of anything with noodles. This pasta salad looks delicious and perfect for a daycare meal! You can switch up the type of pasta depending on what your little one likes best! My kid’s favorite is bow tie.
7. Egg Muffins
These egg muffins are a perfect toddler daycare lunch. They are easy to make and packed with nutrients. The best part is you can switch up the vegetables you use for variety.
8. Protein Snack Pack
In my house, we refer to meals like these as “toddler plates”. I have found that my toddlers eat best when they have a variety of foods to eat. The different tastes and textures help keep them interested and excited to eat.
10. Tuna Pinwheels
These tuna pinwheels are the perfect main dish for a toddler’s daycare lunch. If your little one doesn’t like tuna, you can easily substitute for shredded chicken!
11. PB&J Pinwheel Kabobs
How fun are these cute pb&j kabobs?! Your little one will love having these for lunch. I really like the variety that these add to the lunch rotation.
12. Ranch Cream Cheese Ham and Cheese Roll Ups
There is just something about ham and cheese roll-ups that is nostalgic for me, but I love that these have a twist!
13. Chicken Quesadilla
I love these chicken quesadillas for daycare lunches. They are quick and easy to make and the kiddos eat them up! You can use any leftover chicken you have to quickly make these!
14. Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese is a childhood favorite and the perfect main entree to send for daycare lunch.
15. Yogurt Parfait
These parfaits are perfect for a toddler’s daycare lunch! You can switch up the toppings to add some variety,
Daycare lunch Ideas: Sides
Sides seem to be a bit easier than the main entree, at least for me to put together.
16. Peanut Butter and Jelly Energy Balls
Your little one will love these peanut butter and jelly-inspired energy balls and they make the perfect side!
17. Crispy Oven Rosted Lentils
These crispy oven-roasted lentils look like the perfect side for a toddler lunch!
18. Dark Chocolate Hummus
This dark chocolate hummus is deceivingly healthy and would be great to pair with fruit or pretzels for a yummy side!
19. Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Muffins
These muffins would make a great side. Not only are they healthy, but your toddler will love them as a side for lunch
20. Homemade Ranch and Veggies
My toddler loves ranch on everything, so if your kids are anything like mine, they will love this homemade ranch with veggies.
Here are a few ideas for really simple sides:
- Grapes (make sure they are sliced well)
- Broccoli (my kiddos enjoy it raw)
- String Cheese
- Apple sauce pouches
- Hard boiled egg (make sure you peel it beforehand)
- Plum Organics Pouches
I hope that you found these suggestions for easy and fun toddler daycare lunches helpful and inspiring. Remember, keep it simple! I would love to know what your favorite meals to pack your toddlers for lunch are or which ones you try. Let me know in the comments below!