I could write a novel about the transition from Nez being at home with us and her nanny to being a straight up kid at school, particularly in the age of Covid. To be honest, a week or two before she was meant to begin nursery school, we talked very seriously about waiting until next year out of fear for her health. But ultimately after weighing the pros and cons, off to school she went and we are both so glad she did. She’s loving the socialization and it’s so evident it was the right choice for our family.
Two days before she started school I realized I was going to be responsible for providing her with lunch everyday (duh), a thought that in the chaos of everyday life had slipped my mind. All I can say is that I’m thankful for Amazon Prime (who isn’t). In 24 hours we received two Bentgo lunchboxes and I started doing a little research on easy lunch ideas.
We are only on week three of school so I’m no expert, but I’m proud to say that I’ve been stressed out 0% of the time, so I figure that’s worth something. Below you can find the gear we love, a few resources for easy toddler lunch inspiration, and a couple tips. I hope this helps you as you venture into the kid lunch world!
Deciding on the right lunch box felt like step one and oddly one the most important. I got a few recommendations for PlanetBox and LunchBots, but we ultimately went with BentGo because I liked the colors (we got her green and pink) and they were little cheaper. So far we love them!
We’ve always love CamelBak kids water bottles. They don’t leak and are easy for Nez to maneuver, plus they hold a lot of water so she doesn’t need to constantly refill.
Vanra 2-Piece Cutlery Set comes in a carrying case so she doesn’t lose her silverware at school and I like that they feel like a more grown up version, which she’s always drawn to and in my head will help her transition to grown up cutlery easier.
A Few Tips
I’m not a huge fan of doing big meal prep days or cooking anything too challenging in general, so my strategy has been to have a lot of simple things I can combine to make quick lunches. I try to bring in multiple colors, which typically means some healthy stuff, plus different textures and overall variety. Don’t feel like a terrible person if they don’t eat 90% of what you pack. There’s always tomorrow (and the next 16+ years).
Weelicious is a great resource and has a ton of creative recipes. I use it mostly for inspiration rather than completing the recipes, but she has a million ideas! Some no brainer ideas to have on hand include:
Cubcakes if you’re in the LA area. They are made from whole grains, organic fruits and veggies and have little to know refined sugar. They’re a nice little treat to include that Nez loves!
Ham and cheese sandwich on seedy bread. I’m not a ham eater but after spending 6 months living with Tommy’s Argentinian parents, Nez loves it! I buy only uncured and antibiotic free to make me feel a little more at ease. For cheese I usually use thinly sliced Swiss, with some vegenaise spread on both sides of the bread to keep it all together.
Turkey roll up. A tortilla is a safe base to use for anything and I guess kids like foods that are rolled up and sliced? More fun, I suppose? A light smear of vegenaise followed by thinly sliced cucumbers and turkey. Done.
Almond butter + jam roll ups (we go for a version that’s just fruit, no refined sugar added). A great Weelicious tip is to using a rolling pin to thin out the bread, then add your almond butter (or sun butter) and jam, roll, and slide!
Hardboiled eggs are a great protein option- make four or so and keep in the fridge. Cut in half and serve. Nothing easier.
Pre-cut fruit. Slice and dice fruit to have on hand so you don’t have to cut it up every morning. Saves you a minute, but those minutes add up!
Leftovers from dinner last night! Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to!
I want Inez to enjoy her lunch and food in general, so we lean towards healthier versions of the ‘real thing’, whether that’s the no sugar added jam or some veggie sticks for a cracker alternative. I want her to feel full and have energy to play without the crash and burn of a sugar rush.
Hope this helps! Please share your recommendations with me too!