Lunch 4 “the ages” {Pre-K}

by on February 21st, 2013
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Many of the questions I receive through this blog are around packing appropriate lunches for different age groups. My children after all are uniquely spaced in age. My oldest is a high school student and my second child is in 5th grade. Then my two youngest are both in preschool. This is certainly not your typical house make up but we make it work! Most days on this blog I feature just one or two lunch photos simply because taking photos, editing them and blogging is time consuming! As a working Momma of 4, I have to keep it simple.

 

I do however feel inspired to focus on these questions around age appropriate lunches! I have decided in response that I would break this topic down into three segments spread over the period of three weeks. Each week I will focus on a different age group. This week I am kicking off with lunches for preschoolers (Pre-K). Next Thursday I will focus on Kindergarten through Fifth grade (K-5) and the week thereafter will be Grade 6 and beyond. If you are a blogger or have a URL which lunch photos related to each age group please feel free to join the link up at the bottom of this post.

 

Lunch 4 “the ages”

{Pre-K} 

Packing lunch for preschoolers can be so much fun! Preschoolers rarely get embarrassed and you have a lot of artistic leeway for creativity. Yet, at the same time, preschoolers can be very picky and for the youngest group (under age 3) food may have to be cut into bite sized pieces. I have 2 sons in this preschool age bracket. Trevor is 3 ½ and Evan is just shy of age 2. Both of my boys attend a preschool while I work. I must therefore consider the nutrition guidelines set by our state and recommended by the preschool as well as my boys’ own unique needs or preferences. I always try to follow a basic formula when packing lunches and include portions from each of these groups: fruits & veggies, whole grains (gluten-free for Evan) and a protein. When I miss the mark in one area I attempt to make this up in another meal period during the day.

 

Here are some of my own personal tips for packing preschool lunches:

 

CONTAINERS – Choose a container that is appropriate for your child. You may have to consider the size of the lunch bag, the size of the preschool cubby, whether lunch will be stored flat or on its side and whether your child will have assistance opening his/her container. Does your preschool allow heatup lunches? That could be another factor in choosing a container. Although I own and use many lunch containers I tend to lean towards products by Lunchbots and Easylunchboxes. These products have proven to me their reliability, durability and ease of use. I strongly prefer using containers instead of food in individual disposable packaging. I believe in reducing lunch waste into our landfills and saving money by buying larger portions. Also consider that food served in a container will make it easier for your young child. There will be less packages to open therefore requiring less care giver assistance allowing your preschooler to feel more independent.

ORGANIZE – Pack lunches tightly to keep food in place. Use smaller containers with lids inside your larger container to keep smaller food items together or for sauces that need to be water tight. Silicone baking cups (typically for muffins and cupcakes) or silicone bento baran can be used to help create additional divided compartments within your container. Cloth napkins can also help fill up space and provide a non-disposable alternative. Small food picks can help hold sandwiches together and larger food picks can be used to create kabobs. Do consider whether your child can safely manage food picks or other lunch box accessories and tools before use.

MAKE IT FUN – Add one small detail or attempt a bento masterpiece. Adding a small detail like a cookie cutter sandwich, a personal note (maybe a picture for non-readers) or a plastic cupcake ring makes the lunch like a hidden treasure for your preschooler. He/she will enjoy it and love showing their care givers and friends. Details could be based upon holidays, favorite characters, books, movies or your child’s favorite things. Silicone baking cups or baran can not only act as dividers but can add a fun shape or splash of color. Do keep lunchbox accessories age appropriate especially watch for choking hazards for kiddos under age 3.

VARIETY – If making shaped sandwiches and produce isn’t your thing then add fun with variety. Offer an array of produce and snacks for your preschooler to choose from. Young children tend to graze on a little bit of each thing when a variety is offered to them. Research also shows that meals with many colors offered tend to be more appealing to children. Finally consider mixing up your sandwich fillings or offering sandwich alternatives like a make your own lunchables, breakfast for lunch, kabobs, pizza or foods with a dip.

EATING AT HOME – Do you feed your preschooler lunch at home? Many of these same principles will apply to plated food. Consider serving food in muffin tins, ice cube trays, lunch trays or themed plates. There are many wonderful plates on the market to teach your child about healthy eating and proper portions. One of my favorites is the MyPLATE by Super Healthy Kids (one of my favorite blogs).

INSPIRATION – Do you need more inspiration? For more preschool lunches featured on this blog please check out this tag: Preschool. Also check out the other blogs participating in the link up at the bottom of this post. You can also follow my Kids Lunch Ideas board on Pinterest or check out the lunch gallery on the Easylunchboxes website.

Suggested Resource: Feeding the Picky Eater by Ask Dr Sears

Suggested Resource: The 20 Best Snacks for Kids by Parents Magazine

Suggested Resource: Ideal Meals® by Produce for Kids

Still have more questions? Feel free to contact me via email or by commenting on this post and I will attempt to help you work through them! Remember to check out the blogs linking up below for more preschool lunches!

Sincerely,

Lunchbots products used in this post available here:

Shop LunchBots

Other Products Feautured on this Post:


 

 

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