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Toddler lunches at daycare?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
What do you all pack for your toddler's lunch?
post #2 of 17
We intentionally chose a center that DIDN'T provide lunches after visiting one that was serving complete junk...

We try to keep lunches as simple as possible to help us get them made and out the door. We pack the night before. At our old center, we put an ice pack in the bag; our new place has a fridge.

Generally, we pack a protein, a grain, and a vegetable (sometimes a fruit, but they seem to get lots of fruit during snack time.) For the protein, we send beans, chicken pieces, organic lunchmeat turkey, Quorn nuggets, or hard boiled eggs. The grain is usually whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or whole wheat pita bread. Veggies are whatever is left-over, or we thaw and cook a small portion of frozen veggies - peas, peapods, broccoli, califlower, sweet potato, squash. Our old place was peanut-free, so we haven't gotten into the peanut butter sandwhich habit, but once in a while we do that. Also, a lot of kids bring baby carrots, but our daughter doesn't seem to like them very well.

i hope this helps -
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Extremely helpful - thanks!
post #4 of 17
We use the Laptop Lunch system for our 2.5 year old. I can generally get lunch in one of the big and one of the small containers and then I pack her afternoon snack in the other 2 containers.
post #5 of 17
Our son's preschool will do heat-ups, and as a PP mentioned is peanut-free. I send a lot of spaghetti or other dinner leftovers as the main protein. I also put in a yogurt cup and a fresh fruit like banana, cut-up canteloupe or strawberries, raisins, etc. DS won't eat carrots or most other vegetables so I don't bother. For a "snack" I put in pretzels, mini rice cakes, bunny grahams, etc.
post #6 of 17
Originally Posted by zmom View Post
We use the Laptop Lunch system for our 2.5 year old. I can generally get lunch in one of the big and one of the small containers and then I pack her afternoon snack in the other 2 containers.
I also have a Laptop Lunch system for ds(and me) and it makes it fun and easy to make and pack lunches. For things that are warm I put them in a thermos that I also got from Laptop Lunches. We are vegetarian and I bought the Vegan Laptop Lunch cookbook, and it is full of great and fun recipes.
post #7 of 17
They don't do heat up at DS's school. I normally send yogurt, cheese, fruit (either applesauce, diced fruit, or fresh fruit like cut up apple, grapes, banana), bread (bagel, crackers, toasted English muffin), a drink, and some rolled up lunch meat.

I don't do any peanut butter because he is allergic to it.

Zmom, thanks for posting the laptop lunch system. It looks very promising!
post #8 of 17
I usually send a cheese stick, a yogurt squeezer, some whole grain crackers, a piece of fruit, and some rice cookies or Fig Newmans as dessert. Nothing that has to be prepared - that way I can just throw it all in the lunch box with a cold pack in the morning.
post #9 of 17
Thanks for reminding me of my laptop lunchboxes! I need to dig those out.

Anyway, we're in a rut. It's pretty much Amy's organic mac-and-cheese mixed with edamame (frozen and shelled, cook it with the pasta) or peanut butter and apple spread on whole wheat bread. Then, I usually pack some broccoli or other veggie. Leftovers are definitely utilized, too. I tend to send cheerios with fruit or a scrambled egg for breakfast.

Like the previous poster, one of our deciding factors in choosing daycare was that they didn't provide lunch. As one lunch-providing daycare told me, "we always provide healthy food and vegetables, like tater tots and green beans." I had terrible flashbacks to the school lunches of my youth!
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by dawny View Post

Zmom, thanks for posting the laptop lunch system. It looks very promising!
Sure thing - we REALLY love ours (DH and I each have one too). The book that comes with the system has some good recipe ideas in it. We do hot food sometimes - I don't think the daycare heats it up but DD always wants stuff cold anyway!
post #11 of 17
The Vegan Lunchbox cookbook is excellent too! They give you recipes and meal plans for entire well-balanced meals.


Its worth it!
post #12 of 17
I perhaps should have mentioned that my daughter prefers that all of her food be stone-cold, so I send all kinds of things that most adults would not eat straight out of the refrigerator.

Also, re: the "healthy" tatertots comment: we visited a potential day care center, and everything was going great until I asked about lunches and the woman made the mistake of uttering the words "fish sticks." That was it for me.
post #13 of 17
I love this thread! I am always curious what the other parents pack for their kids at my daughter's day care, because I got really stuck in a fruit spread sandwich, banana and cheese cube rut. No wonder my poor little daughter was refusing her lunch, she was probably bored! She's only 19 months, so I worry if a lot of things are appropriate for her, or if they are choking hazards. I've gotten some good ideas from this thread though. And I am so coveting a laptop lunch box!
post #14 of 17
For lunch: peanut butter sandwich or salad or half-bagel, yogurt, and sliced fruit.

For snacks: sliced fruit, cheese and whole wheat crackers, granola bars, raisins and nuts, sliced veggies

I always pack her a full bottle of water.
post #15 of 17
DS is allergic to egg and soy, so all commercial bread, cracker, and most packaged products are out. I almost always make large dinner servings, and he takes that for lunch. Today he had leftover goulash, salad, and raisins for snack. He is the only child in the school who brings his lunch. They were just unable to accomodate his allergies, so we bring it and they have no problem heating it up.
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks mamas!
post #17 of 17
You should check out Flickr too. It's a website where people post photos (in case you aren't familiar with it) and they have groups. I just joined one called Kid Eats where people post pictures of their kids lunches (pretty much everyone has the Laptop Lunchbox). It's a great way to get some ideas.

Yesterday I packed my dd a cut up black bean burger, broccoli and carrots (cooked), cut up apple and some wheat crackers. She gobbled most of it (not too much of the bb burger) up. Success!!
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