Healthy preschool lunch is in the bag
Lunch or snack time at preschool is an important part of your preschooler’s day, often one children look forward to. Preschoolers think it is special to eat with their friends. It is a pleasant time of relaxing and a wonderful opportunity for developing social skills, table manners, and healthy eating habits. Here are a few ideas for nutritious snacks and lunches to pack for your preschooler.
Convenient: Graduates for Preschoolers Healthy Meals are perfect for lunchtime because they’re designed just for Preschoolers, with a Preschooler serving of vegetables. Also they provide four or more vitamins and minerals per tray. Pair with Gerber Graduates Smart Sips or Gerber 100% Juice for a convenient, nutritious lunch.
Classic: Sandwiches and veggies stand the test of time as a lunchtime staples providing nutrition from important food groups. Start with 100% whole-grain bread (one or two slices, depending on your child’s appetite). Don’t hold the mayo – mayonnaise is a source of vitamin E and healthy fats. Use 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. Add one slice of turkey or cheese. Pack 1/4 cup of your child’s favorite peeled and cut fruit or vegetable. Gerber Graduates carrot dices are just the right size and texture for your child. Complete with 1/2 to 1 cup of milk or Gerber Yogurt Juice for a good source of calcium.
For growing children, every bite counts. Nutrition from snacks throughout the day is just as important as her other meals. Teach your child now that fruits and vegetables are snack foods and this habit will stick. Try these choices for preschool snack time.
- 1/2 to 1/3 cup of your child’s favorite fruit, peeled and cut into developmentally appropriate pieces. Serve with 1 ounce or 1 slice of cheese
- 1/2 to 1/3 cup of your child’s favorite vegetable, peeled and cut into developmentally appropriate pieces. Serve with 2 tablespoons of a favorite dressing to dip
- 1/4 cup mashed ripe avocado, spread on Gerber Graduates Snack Crackers
- 1/2 cup Gerber Graduates yogurt melts and 1 serving of Gerber Harvest Juice
Other General Tips:
- You know your child’s lunchtime appetite best; pack accordingly for less waste.
- Let the teacher know how to follow your child’s hunger and fullness cues. If at home there is no pressure to finish all the food, there shouldn’t be at school either.
- Pack your child’s favorite healthy foods. You want your child to be comfortable, having fun with his friends. His favorite foods will help him enjoy lunch and snack time.
- If your child is apprehensive about preschool, shopping for a special lunch carrier may help turn her nervousness into excitement! With permission from the teacher, your child also could bring in a favorite healthy snack to share - another way to help a child get excited about eating lunch away from home.
Most preschools and child care centers are on board with encouraging healthy eating habits and have specific guidelines about what foods are appropriate to bring from home to eat during school. Be sure to ask about the school’s nutrition policy. (If your school doesn’t have one, share the Start Healthy, Stay Healthy Preschool Nutrition Guide with the director!)