What to Pack for Lunch

Updated on December 03, 2009
L.M. asks from Bowling Green, KY
10 answers

I have a 3 year old who attends a parent's day out. I have to pack her lunch
and am running out of ideas. She only goes twice a week and so far the only
things I have sent for her to eat are PB & J, grill cheese, and mac and
> Any other ideas/suggestions would be great!
> thanks
> L. mc

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answers from Tuscaloosa on

I just joined mamasource and have a great snack idea for you. My three year old loves it and has since he was one. slice up bananas into wheels, thin honey just a little with milk and set aside. Put wheat germ into a bowl and set aside. Now take the banana wheels and dredge them into the honey mixture and then into the wheat germ. It's super healthy and VERy tasty.


answers from Los Angeles on

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answers from Dothan on

Hey L.! This is an article we feature on my site SAHMom.org.... Not all of these ideas may work for a 3 year old but some of them will! :)

Avoiding Packed Lunch Boredom

It's not easy to keep coming up with healthy and fun school lunch ideas. No wonder most parents tend to pack the same foods over and over again. So just how do you avoid packed lunch boredom? Here are some simple ideas to spice up your child's lunch box.

Change the Bread – Or don't use bread at all. Kids can get bored with sandwiches so why not try the same fillings but make it a little more exciting by changing the bread. You can try pitta bread, bagels, tortilla wraps or even crackers or breadsticks. You can place the fillings on the side and your child can assemble the crackers or sandwiches themselves.

Try a Salad – Not your typical lettuce and tomato salad, what kid would get excited by that? But instead try a pasta salad or potato salad. Cook and drain the pasta or potatoes and mix with a little mayonnaise or olive oil, add some cut up veggies such as corn kernels, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots; add some sliced turkey, chicken or ham and place in a plastic travel container.

Fun, Fun, Fun – On the days where you go for the traditional sandwich try cutting the bread with fun shapes using cookie cutter. You can also cut slices of cheese or ham into fun shapes. Cookie cutters are something every mom should make good use of. You'll be amazed at how a boring cheese sandwich will get gobbled up when shaped into a flower or dinosaur.

Fingers Foods – Sometimes kids, especially younger ones, don’t like to eat a whole sandwich or bowl of food. Instead you can try preparing cut up cubes of cheese, grapes, carrot sticks, pretzels, mini crackers, and ham cubes. Place in a container with individual compartments or just a standard one for a fun lunch. You can also try cutting sandwiches into small rectangles or triangles for easier eating.

Pinwheels Anyone? – Instead of sandwiches try pinwheels. Cut the crust from two slices of bread, flatten bread using the back of your hand or rolling pin. Spread thinly with cream cheese. Place one slice of ham and roll each slice into a log shape. Wrap in cling film and place in freezer for about 30 minutes. Unwrap and cut into pinwheel rounds.

Dip It – Kids love dipping stuff. For an easy and nutritious lunch snack you can cut apple wedges and serve with a strawberry or peanut butter dip or cut up veggies served with a hummus dip or try a cream cheese dip. For a more substantial lunch add pieces of pita bread, breadsticks or crackers.

Lunch Notes – Write cute little notes once in a while to put a smile on your little one's face. A simple note with a smiley face saying I love you or miss you can instantly make a child feel better. For older children (who will no doubt be embarrassed by smiley faces and cutsie notes) try a riddle or brain teaser instead.

Be a Creative Mama – Think outside the box, the lunch box that is. Pack mini pizza slices, mini hamburgers, meatballs or chicken drumsticks. Add some potato wedges on the side. Or try tortilla chips with strips of cheese, turkey and sliced tomatoes on the side. Add a sour cream and/or guacamole dip for instant lunch time nachos, perfect for older children or teens.

Or how about some bake savory mini muffins using chopped, cooked bacon and chives or grated cheese and ham. Sweet fruit mini muffins will be a big hit too.



answers from Nashville on

I wouldn't sweat it so much!!!!! Send what the child likes. If it the same thing, oh well!! I worried to death when my first one went to Parent's Day Out, I worried they would think I was horrible for sending the same thing or whatever. I wound up talking to the teacher and she told me to do exactly that. It makes lunch time easier for them as well!! I am sure that you are doing a great job! Don't worry so much. Trust me, there will be plenty of other things to have to worry with.

Good luck!!!! Enjoy your time and RELAX!




answers from Chattanooga on

My 3 yr old likes the Lunchables you buy at the store with meat, cheese, and crackers. You could also put together your own. My 5 yr old likes the pizza lunchables with small tortillas (bite size), pepperoni, cheese, and sauce.

My dgt also likes turkey and cheese quesadillas. I warm them in the microwave for about 15 seconds when I make it just to melt the cheese.

Applesauce, mandarian oranges, raisins, string cheese, goldfish crackers, and pretzels are other ideas.



answers from Memphis on

Here are some items I pack in my now 4-year old daughter's lunch at MDO:
PB&J; pimento spread on whole wheat bread (only type we keep in the house); cheese strings; yogurt in the tubes; carrots, celery and sometimes with dip; raisins; grapes; mandarin oranges; party mix; cheetos; cheese/cracker pack; etc. Any kind of "finger food" which is what the school advised. I don't send anything that would stain clothes like strawberries or blueberries. Hope this helps!



answers from Nashville on

Hi L.!

I'm looking for a good parents day out program. We just moved to the Springfield area three months ago. I'm sure programs are in the middle of registration. Got any recommendations? My son used to attend Smyrna Christian....which I LOVED!!!! Now I have to find him a new one.

About the lunch delimma. Try packing a hodge podge of stuff. My son (whose turning three this month) loves yogurt covered raisins, bananas, peanut butter crackers, etc. You could also try bologna and cheese crackers. I'm not sure how picky your child is, but mine will eat anything. He really loves the jello or pudding cups too. The teachers at his old school would always help open it.

Hope this helps!

A. M.



answers from Grand Rapids on

This became a big hit for my kids even my teens. Ramen noodles drain all water(you may still use the spice packet if desired on the noodles), mild cheddar cheese, chopped up chicken breast meat, broccoli(or another favorite warm veggie) mix all together (adding a little splash of milk may not hurt so the cheese doesnt get too sticky). They love it!

Lunchables are a favorite as well. Cream Cheese Wraps (Ham or Turkey with Cream cheese in the middle, Egg salad, tuna salad, regular Salad with ham or turkey on top. My kids love veggies, very healthy eaters so that was always a plus for me.

I hope these Ideas help ya out a little bit.



answers from Birmingham on

My son is 5 and I try and send him healthy snacks like turkey and cheese sandwiches,or those little lunchable things...He seems to like it all..I'd even try chicken salad sandwiches or ham!!!



answers from Huntsville on

About the time preschool started, my daughter (almost 4) decided that she doesn't like sandwiches anymore. She eats maybe 2 a month if I'm lucky, so I feel your pain!

She loves getting a hot lunch, so I make things like chicken tetrazzini and freeze some small portions. I can pop it in the microwave with a splash of milk and then transfer it to a small thermos I got at Target. Or, I pack left-overs from the night before.

Other ideas:
meat and cheese "rollups" -no bread or anything else
tuna salad with crackers (can you believe this?)
pudding cups
raw carrots (the REALLY baby ones)
spinach salad with Italian dressing (HONESTLY)
yogurt covered raisins
peeled clementine
peas (frozen ones taste good even room temperature or cold)
macaroni pasta mixed with jarred tomato sauce
celery sticks with PB or ranch for dipping

juice box
bite-sized candy bar (I get the variety bag and she chooses which one she wants to put in her lunchbox. She likes the dark chocolate ones, too!)

I know, I'm lucky- my kid loves veggies and she has an unusual palette for a 4 year old! I guess a lot of it depends on what your daughter likes.

I did a google search a while back for lunchbox ideas and came up with a long list. Try that for other ideas.

Good luck!

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