Asking for Ideas for What Easy Food to Pack in Preschool Lunch Box??

Updated on April 11, 2011
Y.P. asks from Los Angeles, CA
14 answers

Dear Mamas,
My 3 year old kid just started going to preschool and I have to pack a lunch box every morning. Since I am working full time, not that much time to make elaborate food from the scratch. What are the good items that I can purchase from market and just place into his lunch box without much additional work on it (the school microwaves for the kids) but still healthy/nutritious and yammy? I always placed snak items such as juice box, string cheese, cut fruits, yogurt, cookies, etc. I am asking for ideas for warm, main course items.

Thanks very much in advance for all your inputs!!

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answers from Seattle on

We mostly did dinner leftovers. That way I knew kiddo would eat it. I'd just zap it in the morning.

Kiddo's favorite food as a preschooler was fettucini alfredo with chicken and broccoli. So on average of once a week, I'd zap him some in the morning, put it in a ziplock twist shut bowl, and pop it in his lunch bag.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Check out it's a great site and has lots of main course kid friendly items!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Anything he'll eat. :) When my dd was in pre-school there was a min rule on the microwave so I'd send her with leftovers from the night before, I'd make easy mac and then just put it in a tupperware so it could be reheated. Frozen burritos, chicken nuggets...


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

if they will microwave the main course, why not use leftovers? hamburger helpers, casseroles. i would go that route, and then throw in sandwiches, etc, some days too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I worked in an elementary school cafeteria. The school may nuke for them, but they only get a very short amount of time to eat and if they are waiting for a teachers aid to get to them and then wainting behind the other kids that are having food nuked, and then they have to wait for it to cool down, well, that's not a lot of time to eat. Trying to get warm food in the kids is great. But getting something in them is better! I would probably send leftovers from the night before and something they could eat while they wait - like the string cheese, raisins, goldfish crackers, celery and peanut butter, cheese cubes, granola bars.

Other warm maindish ideas - tomato soup with a grilled cheese. mac n cheese with cut up turkey dogs, precooked oatmeal, smart pasta with grilled chcicken

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

The main thing is to pack what your child will eat.
Many times, kids in school do not eat. Then they all day, are hungry. Or come home hungry.

Don't think you have to make fancy things to impress the teachers or other parents. Just pack what your child WILL eat.
It does not have to be, 20 different items.

Kids also often, eat scantly.

And, since they microwave for the kids, you can pack pretty much anything. Cold or hot meals.

My son, always likes the same thing. He is very picky. So that's fine. He eats, even if I pack the same thing all the time.
He likes ham and cheese sandwiches and apples. And water.
That's it. I tried before to pack all sorts of things and many things. He did not eat it.

Just pack what your child eats and wants, and is familiar with.
It does not have to be complicated.

Even just leftovers. Why not?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Target had a thermos that you put your stuff in in the morning heat up. By lunchtime it was still warm. Some ideas if you didn't have "leftovers" to use were to make ahead burittos, chicken tenders, taquitos, etc and freeze yourself. Then you can call on your reserve when needed. Even if you can't find this one those items canbe heated up at school. If they sell milk you can send your child with a small bowl of cereal and a spoon. Sounds weird for lunch but kids think it is so neat!



answers from Los Angeles on

string cheese..juice..seaweed .. i buy the dry seaweed in packets at Trader Joe's or Wholefoods and take some out and put them in a baggie the night before.. chocolate croissant, peanut butter jelly sandwich..fruit roll..cereal in a baggie..mac and cheese ..cook the night before..spinach ravoli..
they also serve snacks at school so sometimes my son's lunchbox is still full of all the items i put in when i pick him up.



answers from Honolulu on

Whenever we eat something that my daughter likes (spaghetti, chicken and rice, etc) I put leftovers into several lunch sized containers and freeze them. That way I always have something on hand in the morning. My older daughter likes bean and cheese burritos, which I make the same morning. After I make the eggs, I just throw a tortilla in the pan, slap on some cheese and refried beans and fold it up. The leftover heat from the pan is enough to melt the cheese to hold it together in her lunch.



answers from Miami on

My daughter does not like sandwhiches nor mayo or mustard. I had to get creative for her. A baggy with some sort of cut fruit. Crackers. String cheese. The peanutbutter to go. Its the jiffy that has single serving peanut butter. Salami. Two juices. And some snack like animal crackers or grapham crackers. I tried goldfish but the coloring in some of them are not that healthy and parents allways bring them in for snack so she's would have had that already.



answers from Las Vegas on


Sounds like you have the basics. I use a thermos and pack leftovers if I have them but mostly I do foods that can stay cold. Here are just a few examples:

Grapes with laughing cow cheese wedges
Pretzel thins or carrots with hummus
Cucumbers, romaine lettuce with a greek yogurt dip (weelicious)
Apple slices with choc. pudding (kozyshack no preservatives)
Mangos, melon, cutie oranges, unsweetened applesauce
Asst. of berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.)
Yo Kids yogurt sticks or yogurt shakes
Trader Joe's or Whole Foods granola
Grape tomatoes with a mozzarella cheese stick cut up in little pieces
Whole wheat crackers with all natural peanut butter
Whole wheat bagel thins with cream cheese
Boars Head ham & cheese, Boars Head turkey and cheese on a whole wheat wrap
Good old pb & j on whole wheat bread (all natural peanut butter and strawberry preserves)
Edamame with corn
Celery with peanut butter and raisins
Banana with honey and almond butter
Roasted sweet potato chunks with cinnamon

I don't do juice boxes, usually I only pack water because both my kids usually get a dairy (cheese, yogurt, pudding etc.), a veggie, a fruit, a protein/whole grain and a small treat (fish crackers, z-bar, cliff bar, all natural bunny graham crackers, etc. ).

I work full time too. I really just try to think of what I like to eat for lunch and then make extra for the kids. :)

I hope this helps!




answers from Dallas on

check out she has a lot of great ideas and most of them can be frozen for later use.

i always pack a warm lunch for my son. on lazy days it's Spag Os. If i'm thinking ahead, I pack him dinner leftovers. Whole wheat pasta with chicken and either tomato sauce or just sprinkled cheese and some edamame.

I also make him grilled ham, gouda, and apple butter sandwich on whole wheat 'circle' bread. wrap it in foil and it'll be warm enough for him.

his fav is ravioli, so i'll buy whole wheat cheese ravioli and put chicken or pepperoni or shrimp or whatever else I have around the house.



answers from Eugene on

I used to pack hot food in a wide mouth thermos for my girls to take to school. My sons pack their own lunches: sandwiches (made the night before), any kind of leftover - pizza is a favorite, smoothies - Costco has these by Odwalla, Clif bars.



answers from Boston on

Dos your kid really eat a main course for lunch? I pack the simple things you mentioned - cheese sticks (usually i give her two), hummus, crackers, carrots, cucumbers (sliced), celery, maybe some cream cheese for dipping, grapes or blueberries, and then maybe a small serving of yogurt or a 1/4 sandwich. THat's more than enough for her (she barely eats it anyway) but maybe your child eats more....still - sandwiches are perfect for convenience and can be quite healthy.

good luck!

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