Packing a Preschool Lunch

At our house it’s back to {pre}school time, and I know I’m in good company with you other moms as we attempt to crack the code of packing a preschool lunch. I personally abide by two rules to keep the teacher in mind (maybe because I’m a teacher’s kid): Keep the food battles at home (make sure it’s something the kiddo will definitely eat) and keep it easy for her to clean up (e.g. no tomato sauced pasta. I don’t even like cleaning that up. I mean, really.)

Through trial and error, here are my kid-tested, mommy-approved options.

Main Course

Our preschool is peanut free, so I don’t have the option of a default peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Instead, I make grilled cheese at least one day a week, and his teacher reports that he eats the whole thing. Another “main course” option is the tortilla, rolled up with a little cream cheese mixed with salsa, just enough to make it stick together. Almost anything with a tortilla is a hit with my tiny Texan. A low-prep option is a chicken strip, cooked that morning and sliced up. We are big fans of the chicken strip!

I also started a Pinterest board with toddler lunches. There are some awesome options over there, including some broccoli cheese bites that I think I would love myself!

Kids Lunch BoxSides

I am a huge fan of the squeezable pouch-packaged fruit, like applesauce or strawberry-banana what-have-you. In general, I feel almost certain that the inventor of the pouch-packaged puree for children was either a rocket scientist (literally worked for NASA) or a mother. Or most likely, she was both because why not? I usually add some squeezable applesauce. Freezing the package beforehand helps keep everything chilled, and it thaws by lunchtime.

Recently, I was given two cartons of Kids Gourmet Squoosh organic fruit and vegetable pouches for my little guy to try out. Specifically, the flavors we tried were Banango which is banana, mango, apple, with butternut squash, and Squabbleberry, made from blueberries, apples, bananas, and butternut squash.

Hard decision.

I was about halfway through the carton of Squabbleberry that I realized I was stealthily delivering my boy a serving a veggies a day, along with the fruit. (Yeah, way to pay close attention to the label, mom.) In addition, the ingredients are organic, and there is no added sugar. On more than one occasion when I’ve sent him to the pantry to pick out a snack he’s come back with one of these. So thank you, Squoosh, for making snack-time healthy at our house.

I usually include another side of fruit or veggies, sent in little silicone cupcake cups for their ability to be reused. I found them at Walmart in the Wilton baking section. Grapes (halved to prevent choking), blueberries, cut up strawberries, a halved banana (cut in half with peel still on to keep from browning), or a cutie. For veggies, really only cooked ones get eaten at our house, and typically only carrots or green beans receive a positive reaction.

I’ve hesitated to send yogurt (due to rule number two — keep it easy to clean up), but our yogurt-eating skills have come a long way, so I’m almost ready to take that plunge.


I feel like I need to send a tiny sweet treat, like my own little hug to him while he’s off at school. Some type of graham cracker or several mini-Oreos on occasion tend to find their way in there. If I send a regular-sized cookie, I always send two and leave it up to the teacher as to whether he can handle a second. Maybe that should be my rule number three. Really, the second one is insurance in case he drops the first one on the floor or it gets snatched. These things happen.


Our preschool requests that we send clear liquid drinks which basically means no milk. He takes a water cup for drinking throughout the day, but at lunch time I include a small bit of apple juice. It’s a cure-all!

What’s your go-to preschool lunch item?

**FWM was provided free product for this post, but opinions are all our own.

Emily G
Emily is married to Brad and mother of the handsome Jack and precious Annabelle. After more than a decade as a software engineer (two of those as a working mother), she cleaned out her cubicle and can be found most days at one of the beautiful parks Cowtown has to offer, without a WiFi hotspot in range. These days, Emily spends her time exploring our fair city with her babes in tow, volunteering at her church, cheering on the Fightin' Texas Aggies, and shopping her way through DFW at large. You'll find her journaling her daily life at Being Mrs. Gentry.


  1. My kid takes the SAME thing every Tues/Thurs to preschool – PB&J, pickle, goldfish crackers and a fruit (usually apple or grapes). That is what he likes and that is what he asks for. BUT, I am going to use some of these ideas and vary it up a bit! We’ll see how he likes it!

    • There are so many days I wish we could pack PB&J! And mine doesn’t really like a plain ol’ turkey sandwich, so that’s not an option. Hope some of these work for y’all!

  2. A is pretty happy with a sandwich/chips/fruit, but C isn’t much of an eater. It’s been a challenge to find things she’ll actually eat…and she can’t have dairy, so that’s another obstacle. I was desperate yesterday and sent chicken nuggets (the kind from the freezer, not homemade or anything)…now I’m sure I’ve been labeled as “that” mom. Oh well.


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