what’s for lunch?

I have had several conversations with other moms recently about what I pack in the boys’ lunches for pre-school.  Dexter’s a bit pickier than Theo as he does not eat raw vegetables very well, but they both eat a wide variety of foods.

I have been discovering recently that the boys will eat an unexpected variety of foods cold. But it makes sense if you think about it…they goof off at mealtimes and by the time they get around to eating all of their food (especially their veggies), it’s all cold. Since their pre-school doesn’t warm up lunches, we have to get creative sometimes.  Here’s are some go-to items that I pack for them.


  • A small (taco size) tortilla with bacon or lunchmeat and shredded cheese. I’ll stick this in the microwave for a few seconds so the tortilla is more pliable and the cheese melts a bit and either roll it up or fold it in half.
  • To my dismay, bologna sandwiches are a big hit
  • Peanut butter & jelly of course!
  • Crackers & cheese or peanut butter
  • Cold pizza
  • Cold cheese or chicken and cheese quesadillas
  • Tuna or chicken salad and crackers/pretzels
  • Smoked turkey sausage or hot dogs, sliced into circles
  • Cold pre-cooked seasoned chicken or steak pieces (grilled at home or from the small Tyson pouches found in the lunchmeat section)
  • Cold breaded baked chicken nuggets (also found in the lunchmeat section)

Starch/Sides – if their protein isn’t accompanied by bread/crackers, etc.

  • Potato salad
  • Cheez-its
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Nutri-grain bar
  • Ritz crackers
  • Oyster crackers


  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Banana
  • Clementines/mandarin oranges (fresh or pre-packaged)
  • Small apple (& maybe some peanut butter)
  • Raw baby carrots or carrot chips & ranch dressing
  • Broccoli – cooked OR raw (Dexter won’t eat it raw)
  • Cauliflower – same as above
  • Edamame – shelled or in the pod, this is a favorite
  • Peas
  • Cherry or Grape tomatoes (another favorite), both yellow and red
  • Pineapple (pre-packaged or canned then put into small containers) – another favorite
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Chopped red or green peppers (raw)


  • String cheese or chunks of cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cashews/Pistachios

I usually send about four items so a typical meal would include one thing from each section or nothing from the starch section and 2 things from the Fruits/Veggies section.  For example, chicken salad w/crackers, string cheese, grapes, and edamame would be pretty standard.  They put their leftovers back in their lunch boxes when possible so it’s fairly easy for this mom to determine how well they are eating and if they like what I am packing.  Although I sometimes feel like I am sending the same things over and over, they don’t seem to tire of repeated meals.

Do you struggle with ideas for packing lunches? Do my lists have anything unexpected or anything new that your little one might be willing to try?



2 thoughts on “what’s for lunch?

  1. I don’t have to worry about this for another two years until Evie goes to K-5, but I really struggled over the Summer on maternity leave with what to feed her for lunch. I never had to feed her lunch on a daily basis bc they provide it at school, and we usually eat out brunch at least one day on the weekend! One of her favorites and mine was individual pizzas. English muffins, sauce and a little cheese and she was a happy camper. I toasted the muffins then broiled them, but I bet you could just send the stuff and let them make them (like a lunchable, really), especially if they are happy to eat cold food!
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