Preschool Lunch Ideas

Updated on March 09, 2012
A.Z. asks from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
15 answers

Hi ladies, my daughter is in preschool every day and I have to pack a lunch for her. They don't refrigerate or heat up food at the school. I have an insulated lunch box for her, but I still feel uneasy sending her off with anything that is prone to spoil quickly. She's getting sick of PBJ sandwiches. Any ideas for lunch that a preschooler can eat/would like to eat and doesn't need to be refrigerated or heated up?


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answers from Los Angeles on
You can also like her Facebook page where she posts her son's daily lunch. She has tons of great ideas.
BTW, her son's lunches are served at room temp. The school doesn't heat or refrigerate either.

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answers from New York on

Do a search on this, as there have been many post with some great answers.

You can always use one of the blue packs you put in the freezer (use the ones made of hard plastic) or freeze a water bottle, to act as refrigeration.

Also, don't think "lunch". Think healthy snacks....
granola bar
orange slices
veggies - (carrot sticks, celery sticks, cold green beans, slices of green pepper, cucumbers - whatever she might like)
black olives (my kids loved these, still do as teens)
cereal - no milk, just eat as a snack - remember the days of cherios
cheese sticks - or just cut put cheese into cubes
chicken cut into cubes
yogurt - if you use a cold pack (I do it several times a week and it does stay cold enough)
cold pizza

You could also buy a thermos and send hot foods - use really hot water and add a small amount to the thermos, about 1/3 full, let sit for 5 minutes, empty and add hot food...
mac and cheese
ramon noodles - add a little cheese or some leftover chicken
pizza bites

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Those yogurt sticks go gurts freeze real well. Freeze it the night before and put it in her lunch box. My kid says they are still basically frozen when lunch hits. We always use 2 ices, I buy those pre packed carrots and put them in a reusable plastic container. Same with those cherry tomatoes. Sometimes she has peanut butter on crackers. Tostitos chips the cup shapped and the snack size. If she can eat marshmellows make rice crispy snacks and send one of those along. I have found mac and cheese in a soup container doesnt work so well they stick together and they have to wait forever for a teacher to help them. She does like soup on cold days but only fill it half way put an ice cube in it. And remember she will have to wait for a teacher to open it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Most of the dairy and lunch meats are perfectly fine being in a lunch box for a few hours. I send my daughter cheese sticks, yogurt, and cream cheese and there has never been a problem, and I don't even use an insulated bag. She prefers mini bagels with cream cheese on them or jelly sandwiches (we aren't allowed PB either). My son likes Greek yogurt so I send that in lieu of a sandwich for him a lot of days. Other options are lunch meat with crackers instead of bread or veggies and dip. My daughter is pretty happy eating the same thing day after day, at least for now, so I don't have to fret too much yet!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Sandwiches can be turned into tortilla roll-ups or they even make really cute mini sized pita pockets. Put in some turkey, a piece of salad and good cheese. Make a chicken quesidilla. A cup of yogurt, applesauce, carrot sticks and dip, celery and peanut butter with raisins, pretzels, animal crackers, fruit cup, grapes, sliced cucumber and dip... those are the types of sides I put in the lunch.

Also, get an insulated lunch box and put an ice pack in there to keep it cool.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

bagel and cream cheese or jam
toast, hummus, and turkey
wheat waffle with pb, honey, jam or maple syrup to dip
cut up fruit
cut up veggies
frozen squeezable yogurts (they defrost by lunch)
pita bread (cut into triangles to make chips) and hummus or pb to dip

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We use a funtainer thermos for my son who is in kindergarten. It keeps things warm for up to five hours. With that thing his lunches have been limitless. Rice, spaghetti, chicken nuggets, pasta, potstickers, soups, even burgers. For "cold" lunches we do home made lunchables, salads, veggies with dip, kiwi (I cut them in half and he eats it out of the skin with a spoon). A change on the sandwiches is to make a wrap in a tortilla. We also send corn on the cob. Heat it in the morning,flavor it to your liking, wrap in tin foil, wrap that with news paper and then wrap again in tin foil, it stays warm for about 4 hours or so.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

What about making your own cheese and crackers? Or veggies and dip? You can get a salad container with the "dip" section in it.

Or what about a toasted waffle? Or mini-bagels with cheese? Hard boiled eggs?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We cant send peanut butter to our preschool, so we have a couple of other sandwich options - making a sandwich out of a tortilla is popular (put whatever lunch meat and cheese in).

Also - we buy those little soft cheese wedgest (laughing cow?) and spread that on a mini sandwich round, and then put sliced strawberries.

The lunches are not refrigerated but we send it in a thermal lunch bag so there has never been a problem with the food spoiling.

I also bought some Kabuki cutters and cut carrots and cucumbers into little shapes.



answers from Beaumont on

Cut up fruit, cheese, crackers, cut up hot dogs and chicken tenders. I always had something different each day. That way, they try out new things and won't grow up picky or get bored.



answers from Honolulu on

I freeze the capri sun juice pouches (or whatever kind) and then you have a "cooler" that allows more flexibility. Gogurts also freeze well and are defrosted by lunch time. We make rollups with whole wheat tortilla, turkey, grated cheese & a little mayo or reduced-fat cream cheese (makes the grated cheese stick). You can cut them in pinwheels, which is fun. I place them right next to the frozen juice pack.

We also make our own "lunchables" with crackers, small squares of cheese and ham or turkey--kids loving builidng stuff! : )

The other thing I've notice now that my daughter is in kindergarten is she's asserting herself and her preferences. So one day she LOVES apples and the next day she says she "never ever" wants them again. That usually falls the day after I bought a case of apples!

Have fun!


answers from San Diego on

We do the same for son's school lunch (also pre-school). We often use a frozen ice pack (the hard plastic kind) as well as squeezable frozen yogurt (which thaws by lunch time). My son is a ridiculously picky eater, so ideas I may have don't always apply to him.

Frozen squeezable yogurt (we get the yoplait simply gogurt because it doesn't have all the 'extras' I don't want my son to have)

Dried fruit leather and/or dried fruit (easy to make on your own, but if you buy it make sure it's a healthy kind - no added sugars, etc. just dried fruit - we get ours at Fresh & Easy)

Nutella sandwiches (it's a hazelnut spread) for a special 'treat'

squeezable applesauce (Go Go Squeeze is one brand that comes to mind)

cheese & crackers from a cheese platter. put the cheese near the ice pack.

veggie stix, crisps, etc. (and, if she will eat them - real veggies & fruits of course)

if your school allows more than just water, you can partially freeze a juice box or organics milk containers (they are actually shelf stable) to use as something to keep other items cold. For that matter, you can partially freeze the water if the container you put it in allows it.

cold pizza cut into bite size pieces

chicken cubes or other meat pieces from party trays

tortilla roll up - cream cheese with a little meat (if your child eats meat, unlike mine).

are there items you grab when you're heading to the zoo, park, etc. as snacks for her? those types of items can go in the lunchbox as well.




answers from Boston on

My stepdaughter likes cucumber sandwiches. Chicken salad (she doesn't like tuna) with a little mayo in between two cucumber slices. She loves salads - so she likes pasta salad and regular salad. She also loves cheese.



answers from Los Angeles on

We send out son to school with an insulated lunch box but we use a small ice pack and we put in a cold juice box. That keeps the lunch cool for a few hours until he eats.



answers from Los Angeles on

use an ice pack

or those thermos food containers-mac and cheese!

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