Preschooler Lunchbox Tips and Ideas

The first time I faced the daunting task of preparing lunchboxes for my preschooler, I have to admit I was worried. I have been spending hours in kitchen for years, but let me tell you, pleasing a preschooler with his/her healthy lunchbox is not a simple task!

As always before starting a new endeavor, I scourged the web for tips and recipes. I found lots of good once for kids but not as many for preschoolers or 3-4 year olds. I wanted the lunchbox recipes to be healthy, home-made and quick with no more than 10mins in the morning to assemble!

So below is a compilation of my tips and some tried-and-tasted lunchbox ideas which I hope will come handy to other new moms faced with the daunting task of preschool lunchboxes :)

Some tips to make the daily lunch boxes hassle free:
  • Bento style lunchboxes with a little bit of everything works best for preschoolers.
    • I add one portion savory meal, one portion fruits, one portion vegetable, one portion dairy and a sweet reward for finishing lunchbox
    • Kids always find something they like...
  • Easy does it...
    • If you are a busy person, accept that and stay away from fancy time consuming recipes for lunchboxes (that's what weekend meals are for!)
    • Your child will love any meal you prepare with love taking in consideration his/her liking - no matter how fancy it looks.
  • Plan in advance! Make lists! 
    • Pick a time of the weekend to jot down what you will put in lunchboxes for the entire next week.
    • Make a grocery list and shop everything over the weekend.
  • Prep ahead
    • I try to prep as much as possible ideally over the weekend or the night before.
    • If your mornings are as crazy as mine, plan to not spend any more than 10mins on lunchbox in the morning, which will make the whole process sustainable and happy for both you and the kids!
  • Add a reward!
    • We do a carry over reward thing - if she finishes her lunchbox today, she will get a reward in lunchbox tomorrow.
    • Reward can be anything from few M&Ms to a breakfast strawberry bar to a piece of chocolate or a mini muffin.
    • They work like magic!!

Here are some ideas for preschool lunchboxes:
  • Main course (lunch is usually served cold for preschoolers):
    • Methi thepla roll with oil & chutney 
    • Stuffed paratha - potatoes, cauliflower, peas paratha
    • Steamed idli
      • we buy prepared idli batter which makes the whole process < 6mins
    • Dosa
    • Rava upma
    • PB&J sandwich
    • Veggie sandwich
      • TJ's masala burger works great!
    • Pulav, tamarind rice, mango rice etc
    • Rajma rice, chole rice
    • Moong bean cheela
  • Fruits:
    • grapes, chopped apples, sliced banana, melons
  • Dairy:
    • Babybel cheese, string cheese
  • Snacking:
    • crackers, TJ's strawberry breakfast rolls
  • Vegetables:
    • Cucumber, sliced yellow/orange/red pepper, roasted broccoli w/ salt & pepper, roasted & mashed yam/sweet potato
Happy lunchboxing...