3 Easy and Healthy Packed Lunch Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers
You will have seen the recent alarming reports on how much ultra processed food there is in our children’s diets and how much of these are coming from packed lunches.
As a mum of 2, I know how hard it can be to find the time (and knowledge!) to pack a healthy lunch. I definitely have bought more “organic snacks” than I care to admit for V which are all ultra processed.
So I’ve done some homework with our chefs and researchers to give you some ideas for your summer packed lunches. Ones that you can actually make in 10-15 minutes AND all the ingredients are easily available from supermarkets!
Here are the 5 key principles of eating well for your toddlers and pre-schoolers:
- Good variety of different foods and vary the content of your packed lunch day to day
- Five different types of fruit and vegetables a day (ideally fresh)
- Low in sugar and salt; give water as the main drink
- Include a good source of iron and zinc (meat, fish, egg, ground nuts, seeds and soya products) every day
- Include a good source of calcium, riboflavin and iodine (plain dairy products or fortified alternatives) every day
Ps. It is important to keep your food chilled so it’s safe to consume hours after you have packed it (especially in the hotter months). We do recommend using an ice pack inside your lunch bag.
Let’s get into the three easy packed lunch ideas!
These lunch packs will give you 2 of your 5 a day so make sure to pack in some fresh veg and fruit in your snacks too!
Day 1: Chicken & potato salad with fresh cucumber sticks and plain Greek yoghurt with fresh berries
[Chicken & potato salad]
- Cooked chicken breast (M&S British Roast Chicken Slices)*
- Boiled baby potatoes
- Mayonnaise (Hunter & Gather egg free mayo)**
- Wash and boil baby potatoes until soft
- Once cooled down, simply mix up the ingredients! (you can get the little ones to mix it for you so they feel involved!)
* Ideally you would have roasted some chicken yourself as most supermarket chicken slices are either reformed or contain unnecessary ingredients such as stablisers or sugar replacement (dextrose). We’ve found M&S British Roast Chicken Slices to be the cleanest although it does contain added salt and sugar.
** Similarly, many big brand mayonnaise contain thickener or stablisers. The Hunger & Gather one is one of the cleaner ones we’ve found and it just happens to be an egg free version – perfect if you have any egg allergies in the family!
Day 2: Salmon & pea pasta with broccoli, cheddar sticks and fresh berries
[Salmon & pea pasta]
Salmon is an excellent source of DHA which helps to develop children’s brain, including memory, learning, behaviour, neural repair, vision and emotion. Other good DHA sources include trout, marckerel, sardines and herring or plant based sources such as algae and seaweed.
- Small piece of salmon fillet
- A couple handful of dry pasta
- A handful of frozen or fresh peas
- Mayonnaise (Hunter & Gather egg free mayo)**
- Bake a small piece of salmon in the oven (190C, 10-12 minutes or until cooked through)
- Meanwhile boil pasta and after a few minutes add in broccoli, then 3 minutes before completing, add in the frozen pea
- Drain all and cool down
- Add in mayonnaise and mix
Day 3: Egg roll-up with carrot sticks^, plain Greek yoghurt with fresh berries
[Egg roll up]
This is one of my personal favourites, easy to do (although hard to keep for the lunch box as the kids want to eat them hot!)
- 1-2 eggs
- 1-2 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon cold pressed rapeseed oil
- 1 Crosta & Mollica Piadina Flatbread*
^ For younger children, raw carrots can be a choking hazard so make sure they are cooked till soft if you are serving this to a younger child
* A lot of shop bought breads and wraps are full of preservatives, emulsifiers and stabilisers – we’ve found this brand to be consistently “clean” although it does contain more salt than ideal for children
- In a bowl, scramble the egg(s) with a splash of milk
- Heat up a pan with oil and add the scrambled egg to the pan and tilt the pan all around to get the egg to cover the pan (or surface of the piadina)
- Cook the egg for about 30 seconds or until it is mostly cooked but still wet on top
- Gently press flatbread down and after about another 30 seconds, carefully flip the flatbread
- Now the egg should be at the top and cook for another 30 seconds or so to warm up the flatbread
- Remove from the pan and carefully roll up into a roll, then return to the pan seam-side down for a final 30 seconds to keep the shape (or you can skip this step)
- Slice in half for serving
I hope this has been helpful and please do check out more of our blogs for recipes and tips on early years nutrition!
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