This is what I packed for my 2.5 yr old to take to her Mother’s Day Out program for lunch this week: almond butter and blueberry spread on whole grain bread (I love to use cookie cutters to cut up her sandwiches), walnuts, raisins, and a green bean, pea, and pear squeezie pouch. She ate almost everything. All that was left was one part of the sandwich and a few raisins. Slowly but surely, I’m getting better at packing more healthy, balanced meals. When she first started going, I would pack a sandwich, a bunch of goldfish, and a cookie. No fruits or veggies except what was in her jam. It sure is tough, though, finding options that she’ll eat without coaxing when she’s away from home, especially for parents concerned with nutritional excellence–no “lunchables,” string cheese, or deli meat in my kid’s lunchbox. One other meal that has had success is whole-grain chips packed with a dollop of hummus and a bunch of sliced olives, but with that option, I had to pack it with an ice pack. I never pack anything other than water to drink, because if it’s juice or milk, she’ll fill up on the liquid calories and ignore the food.
I also highly recommend these divided containers (see pic above) from Ziploc–they’re so much cheaper than EasyLunchboxes, Lunchbots, and other Bento-style containers. I paid less than $3 for 2 containers with lids.
For other ideas of meal and snack options, check out my post on what to feed a vegan toddler.