Here is an important question: how nutritious are your children’s lunches? Are they packed with wholesome goodness (fruit, vegetables, grains, and protein)? Or, are they just filled with empty calories?
We get that life can be busy and difficult, making lunch preparation a hard thing to achieve. That said, every kid needs a balanced diet, even when they’re two or three years old. Otherwise, you’re setting them up for future health troubles, a poor diet, and perhaps a horrific attitude towards food. That’s something you never want to do.
So, what are you going to serve your toddler for lunch today? Now, what can you feed your precious one for lunch at the daycare? We have some easy toddler lunch ideas, but first let’s get down to the basics.
Here are four easy toddler lunches and meal ideas at daycare:
1. Sandwich Bread Spirals
Yes, sandwiches can be boring – it’s the same old lunch that billions of people have eaten throughout the last century. But you can put a twist on it – or is it a spiral? By making sandwich bread spirals, you can make lunch fun, and it certainly encourages your little slugger to eat their wholesome lunch – it may also get them to finally eat whole wheat or whole grain bread as opposed to white. Best of all, sandwiches are one of the best ideas for easy toddler lunches, and anyone can make them in an instant.
2. Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are exactly that: you mixed your old-fashioned oats with your liquid of choice (coconut milk, for example) and other wholesome add-ins (blueberries, for instance), and let it rest in the fridge for the night. In the morning, your overnight oats are ready for consumption. And, boy, how good they are!
3. Pesto Pasta Salad
Salad doesn’t have to be lettuce, cucumber, and a dressing. Instead, you can turn your salad into a delectable delight for your toddler at lunch. But how? Use pesto and pasta for your salad creation. Not only does this provide a superb taste, it also ensures they get the needed amount of vegetables.
4. Vegetable Pizza Rolls
Who doesn’t love pizza? Everyone loves pizza – man, woman, and child. But do you know what’s just as good as a big slice of pie? A pizza roll. Indeed, you can purchase pizza rolls frozen, but this isn’t the type of meal you want your pumpkin to get accustomed to and to imbibe.
Packed inside of a thermos, your pizza rolls can be soft on the inside and crusty on the outside. When you complement this pizza-inspired lunch with fruit, beans, and a treat, you can make lunchtime the best time for your toddlers. Imagine that! No more fuss… What a dream.
Before preparing any of these easy toddler lunches, parents must also remember certain food safety tips when packing a lunch for your toddler:
1. Allergy Guidelines
Nearly every child care centre – schools, daycares, and everything in between – is extra cautious about allergies. Parents and staff alike are so concerned about food allergies that guidelines are erected everywhere. Most of these guidelines issue warnings about allergies to nuts, but this issue can extend to a wide variety of other foods, so it is your job to check with the daycare to see what is accepted and what is prohibited.
2. Make the Food Nutritious
Your goal as a parent is to ensure your son and/or daughter has a well-rounded meal – you don’t want too much of one thing. It’s like an investment portfolio: diversification is key to success. So, with your toddler’s lunch, you want something that has a little bit of everything: vegetable, fruit, grain, and protein – a meal fit for a king or queen!
3. Do Not Experiment
You just found a great recipe for Gateau St. Honore, Beef Wellington, Coq au Vin, and Paella? Great. But don’t try these meals out with your toddler at daycare. First, they need to consume things they are already comfortable and familiar with – anything from out of left field risks having them avoid lunch.
Second, how could a three-year-old even know how to eat paella?
4. Ask for Feedback
When you pick up your child from daycare, ask the staff to see how well your son or daughter ate that day. If they’re repeatedly informing you that your kid did not eat their entire lunch, or threw it in the garbage, then this is your opportunity to find out what is going on and correcting this behaviour.
Kids of all ages are eating the best they can. Too many children – from toddlers to teens – are relying on fruit rollups, soda pop, and a bag of chips for their calories, protein, and fat. But this isn’t the way to go, and you’re failing your kids if this is the meal you’re giving them. Indeed, it starts early, and by giving them wholesome lunches at daycare, you can turn your child into a foodie.