|my most recent batch of mini muffins: pumpkin/apple/craisin|
I wrote a few weeks ago about feeding our family a mostly real/whole food diet.
Since Evy goes to daycare three days a week, I also need to think about real food that I can pack in her lunchbox. She eats a morning snack, lunch, and an afternoon snack at school. The childcare center provides snacks, but we’ve asked them not to give those to Evy and to instead give her the snacks we’ve sent. There’s nothing wrong with the center’s snacks (and I know it isn’t easy to provide allergy-friendly food to dozens of kids, and to prepare it in a very small kitchen!), but I don’t get a lot of information about the snacks and some just don’t fit in with what we feed our family.
By opting out of the provided snacks we create a little more work for ourselves, but since we already pack a lunch it’s pretty easy to add a few snack items. And, I admit, I have fun coming up with new snack and lunch ideas.
Obviously packing food for a toddler is different than packing lunch for a grade schooler. The food has to be something she can eat on her own, using her still-developing utensil skills or fingers. I’m careful to cut food into bite size pieces. I don’t send anything too too messy. And I try not to make things too challenging for her teachers, who are helping several toddlers eat at the same time (bless them).
Thanks to the recommendations on 100 Days of Real Food I’ve been packing Evy’s food in an insulated Lands End lunch bag (scored for $7.50 plus free shipping with various coupon codes!) and I use a Thermos food jar to pack hot food. In addition to plastic containers I have some stainless steel LunchBots containers and some fabric zip pouches that I use to pack food. The Lands End lunch bag has plenty of space for several reusable containers.
Right now, here are some of the things we pack for our toddler’s ‘real food’ snacks and lunches at daycare:
- Homemade mini muffins (I make a veggie-filled variation on the Weelicious muffins a couple times a month and always have plenty in the freezer). Sometimes I send them plain, sometimes I cut them in half and make cream cheese muffin sandwiches for a little added protein.
- Rice cakes (Trader Joe’s rice cakes are amazing.) Sometimes plain, sometimes spread with sunflower butter (daycare is peanut/treenut free)
- Pomegranate seeds
- Clementine segments
- Cheese stick (one of the packaged foods I’m ok with – basic, just cheese, and easy. I buy the natural/low sodium varieties)
- Apple sauce (I have intentions of making my own soon, but I sometimes send the individual packaged cups that contain only apples and water- organic/no sugar added. Hannaford has a good generic version.)
- Freeze dried fruit (again, Trader Joe’s). E likes the bananas, strawberries, mangoes and raspberries. The blueberries are still a bit tough for her to chew up at this point.
- Edamame (shelled, sent warm or cold)
- Yogurt (plain with some jam or honey mixed in- enjoying Greek yogurt lately)
- Hard boiled egg
- Dried seaweed (yup, TJ’s. She loves this, but everyone at school probably thinks this is extra weird)
- Homemade cheese crackers (so easy! so tasty!)
- Homemade sweet potato chips or ‘fries’
- Lots of other great ideas here.
- Whole wheat mini pitas with cream cheese + jam or sunflower seed butter + honey or tuna (TJ’s for the mini-pitas — they are a big hit in our house)
- Leftover veggie quesadillas with plain yogurt for dipping (E will eat quesadillas with spinach, so this is a go-to when I’m worried that she hasn’t been eating enough veggies)
- Beans + grain (black beans and brown rice or quinoa, chickpeas with cous cous, etc)
- Sweet potato with beans or cheese
- Scrambled eggs, plain or with cheese and spinach
- Whole wheat pasta or soba noodles (with pesto or red sauce or just a little butter) mixed with peas or corn or beans
- Soup (I was shocked when a veggie-filled soup was a hit)
- Scrambled eggs
- Brown rice/bean/corn/spinach/cheese/whatever burrito
- Leftover homemade pizza (again, she will eat spinach this way, hooray!)
- Sunflower butter and jam on whole wheat bread
- Pita with hummus or pesto or bean dip and cheese
- Waffle sandwiches (make and freeze the waffles in advance) – with cream cheese and/or jam or sunflower butter and/or honey.
- Pancakes (we freeze the extras when we have pancakes on the weekend – extra points for getting some fruit in there – apples or blueberries or bananas)