The first three months of motherhood have to be, by far, the greatest and most challenging. I was so enamored with this new little being I helped create but I was terrified of making a mistake. After those first few months, I allowed myself to settle into trusting my instincts as a mother and allowing things to happen organically. That was until it was time to make lunches for my late teething toddler who thought she could eat anything but had no teeth to really chew with and therefore was making me crazy thinking about what I could add to her lunches or snack boxes without the fear of her choking to death! Of course, I let those worries subside slightly too and as her teeth started to come in more and more, making lunches and snack boxes became much easier.
Below are a few of my tips and tricks for lunch box ideas for toddlers. The fun part about the toddler stage is they love finger foods. I try hard to make everything bite sized and easy for her. I also try to feed her mostly organic, low sugar, low salt foods. So, let’s break it down.
I always like to add a combination of the following categories:
- Leftovers: Most things we eat the night before go really well into her lunches. (ex: small salmon or chicken pieces, beans (chickpeas, black beans, pinto), small turkey patties)
- Veggie: Adding a vegetable helps keep her lunches balanced and colorful. I like to add cooked veggies but now that she is getting more teeth I am experimenting with raw veggies too. (ex: broccoli, carrots, peas, asparagus (she’s not a huge fan), cucumber spears, shredded cabbage, cauliflower)
- Fruit: If I miss my weekly trip to the farmer’s market and run out of fresh fruit, dried fruit is a great alternative. (ex: blueberries, sliced strawberries, pitted cherries, clementines, cubed grapefruit, apple slices, grapes sliced in half, and dried fruits such as cherries, apricots, pineapples, raisins)
- Sandwich: I don’t like to add them often but if it is one of those days and I have nothing else, I will resort to an almond butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread (gluten free bread is also a great alternative) and occasionally turkey and cheese (however, she doesn’t like that too much either) I do try and make them into fun shapes (using a cookie cutter) to add an element of excitement. Shapes work great on cucumbers and cheese as well.
- Treat: Once again, on days that I don’t have much left in the fridge, I will add a treat she enjoys. (ex: olive oil popcorn, organic cheese crackers, seaweed snacks, organic alphabet cookies)
Note to Mamas: The trick to late teething toddlers is to make things softer. Before her molars came in, I made sure I cooked all my veggies a little longer, didn’t add crunchy things and focused on foods I knew would melt fast in her mouth (ex: teething biscuits, soft fruits, cheese, avocado, etc…)