When your toddler has a hungry tummy tiger to feed, you need to attend to it quickly. However, sometimes, you can’t put off completing that budget report for a less hectic hour.
You don’t have to choose between letting your kid go hungry and handing them a bag of calorie-laden, unhealthy chips. Here are eight preschool lunch ideas for busy days that you can prepare in five minutes or less.
1. A Better PB&J
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can, surprisingly, look fairly foo-foo in record time. Why not cut yours into strips and roll it like sushi for a lunch your toddler can’t wait to show off to their friends? You’ll delight their teacher, as smaller bites mean less space for the jelly to squirt and make a mess.
You can also contain the spread by adding a half-inch of peanut butter framing around the jelly side of the bread. Now, much like the water in a pool, the jam has a lip from which it cannot escape.
2. Zucchini Pasta
Cold pasta can taste every bit as delicious as hot — Asian cuisine often features a version in sesame sauce. You’ll feel good knowing that you did your part to combat childhood obesity when you serve zucchini noodles instead of the traditional white flour ones.
While pasta takes several minutes to cook, zoodles microwave in seconds. Once finished, all you need to do is dole them out into individual containers and add sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan.
3. Hummus Sandwiches
Little fingers can struggle to hold heroes overflowing with baloney and cheese. Give your toddler a protein boost from chickpeas by filling their lunch kettle with hummus sandwiches.
If you want even more healthy goodness, substitute white bread for that made from ancient grains — if your toddler doesn’t mind the switch. You can include a separate cup of dip with cut celery and carrots if you have them handy. It’s okay to buy precut when things get hectic.
4. Brunch for Lunch
If your little one is home for the day, why not go with a brunch-for-lunch theme? You can scramble an egg in less than five minutes.
While your hen-fruit cooks, zap some of those make-ahead breakfast pastries you prepared over the weekend. Alternatively, heat a cup of oatmeal or make some toast.
5. Easy Anything Tacos
If your little one has a gluten intolerance, corn tortillas make an affordable substitute for wheat-based bread. Plus, no rule dictates that you must fill them with ground beef.
Ask your deli counter to shred your turkey or chicken so that you can use it for a no-cook taco filling. Alternatively, consider filling your shells with fresh corn salsa and cheese for a vegetarian lunch in seconds. Sliced avocado adds vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, both beneficial for heart health.
6. Cheerio and Fruit Parfait
Who said your parfait had to have neatly stacked layers held by a crystal glass? You don’t need to go that highbrow for the toddler set. Fill their lunch kettles with fruit, Cheerios and Greek yogurt so that they can make parfaits.
Be sure to include a bowl or container big enough for mixing. While your children get some protein from the Greek yogurt, toss in a handful of chopped nuts for extra if they enjoy the taste.
7. Pita Pizzas
You could spend a fortune on brand-name pizza lunch kits at the store. However, most of them include simple ingredients you probably have in your kitchen. Let’s hear it for saving money.
All you need to do is give your child a slice of pita bread or two, some sauce and shredded cheese for toppings. If you want to get fancy, you can include other toppings like pepperoni.
While your kid can heat their creation in an oven or microwave, there’s no need to do so. All they’ll need is a chilled place to keep their brown bag until the lunch bell rings.
8. Chicken Nuggets
The gods in their infinite wisdom have decreed that chicken nuggets taste delicious cold. If you have a toddler who can’t get enough of these treats, go ahead and fill their kettles. Just be sure to include some baby carrots or an apple for roughage.
What if your family follows a cruelty-free lifestyle? If you are a member of the vegan crew, you have tons of friendly alternatives to try. Premier them at the dinner table, and when you find a family favorite, stock up for your little ones.
Try These 8 Preschool Lunch Ideas for Busy Days
When you have busy days ahead, you may dread filling your toddler’s kettle. However, the eight preschool lunch ideas can have them packed and ready in five minutes or less.