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Mother and Baby

16 Packed Lunch Ideas For Toddlers And Pre-Schoolers

Never be stuck for ideas with our pick of the best lunchbox foods for kids! There‘s a lot of pressure on parents to provide not just healthy packed lunches and snacks, but to be entertaining with it (how many shapes can YOU make out of a ham sandwich?). Rest assured that your little one will be happy with a healthy, tasty lunch - choose one from our list of quick and easy packed lunches for little fingers. 

Why not get your little one to help prepare their lunches? It will give them a sense of ownership over mealtimes as well as feeling grown-up!

16 Packed Lunch Ideas For Toddlers And Pre-Schoolers Expand Image 16 Packed Lunch Ideas For Toddlers And Pre-Schoolers

Cut out sandwiches

Liven up your toddler’s sandwiches by cutting them into fun shapes, making pinwheels (by spreading the bread and then rolling it up and cutting into slices), or mixing and matching different colour breads to make a chessboard-style sandwich. Try to include some form of protein – ham, chicken, cheese, tuna – as it will help your child feel fuller.
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Vegetable batons

Slice up carrots, cucumber, pepper and celery for your toddler to nibble on. You could also include a mini pot of houmous or cream cheese for him to dip them in.
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Boost your toddler’s calcium and vitamin D intake with a milkshake. They’re also more filling than many other drinks as they contain protein. Make sure you pick ones that aren’t full of sugar and colourings. Try Shaken Udder Kids Milkshakes, which come in vanilla, strawberry and chocolate flavours (£1.89 for a pack of three, Tesco).
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Fruit kebabs

There’s something fun about sliding off chunks of fruit from a mini kebab. Try threading strawberries, kiwi and grapes on a plastic straw (as it’s safer than a wooden kebab stick) for your toddler to enjoy.
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Cereal bar

An easy snack for your toddler, opt for ones that are free from lots of added sugar, or even better, make your own. We also like Nakd’s Bakewell Tart bar – it contains only cold pressed fruit and nuts with natural flavourings which means no gluten, wheat, dairy or added sugar. Plus, it's one of your five-a-day (75p per bar, Tesco).
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Cheese chunks

Slice up pieces of cheese (you can wrap them in foil to make them fun for your toddler to unwrap) or put a pre-wrapped cheese in.
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Give the crisps a miss – there are plenty of crunchy savoury snacks your toddler can enjoy that are lower in fat and salt. Try Ella’s Kitchen cracker bites, which are made with wheat, wholemeal and oat flour for extra fibre (£1.99 for a pack of four, Boots).
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Tortilla wrap

Makes a change from sandwiches everyday, you can spread the tortilla with houmous and include chopped salad, ham and cheese. Wrap in foil so it stays together in your toddler’s lunchbox.
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Dried fruit

A small bag of dried apricots or raisins makes a great lunchbox addition. For ready-made snacks, try Fruit Bowl Fruit Peeler bars (£1.79 for a pack of 3, Waitrose) – they’re made from 100% dried, blended fruit and come in raspberry, blackcurrant and strawberry flavours. Plus, your little one will enjoy pulling strips off the bar.
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Cold frittata

Leftovers can work well in your toddler’s lunchbox now and again, especially if it can be served cold. Go for foods such as quiche or frittata as they can be cut into slices and wrapped in a cling film or foil. You could try making this mini cheese and potato frittata recipe.
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Chicken drumstick

If you’ve had a roast chicken, save the drumsticks, removing the skin, and wrap in foil for your child’s lunchbox. They’re easy to eat – so long as your child is supervised while he eats it – and make a change from sandwiches.
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Boost your toddler’s vitamin D and calcium – needed for strong bones – with a yogurt pot or drink. Try Actimel for Kids yogurt drinks, which contains L.casei live cultures – probiotics that can help boost your little one’s immunity (£2.29 for a pack of six, Tesco).
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A small bunch of seedless grapes is perfect for lunchboxes because they’re small and easy for your pre-schooler to eat – no peeling necessary. They’re also high in fibre, so great for preventing constipation. For younger children, be sure to cut up the grapes into halves or quarters to prevent choking. 
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Healthy drink

A mini bottle of water or toddler-friendly carton of juice (where the juice has been diluted and has no added sugar or sweeteners) is good to include in your child’s lunchbox. You could also try Nurture drink pouches, which are fruit drinks with added vitamins and minerals to boost the immune system, and calcium and vitamin D for healthy growth and bone development. It comes in strawberry, cherry or orange and pineapple flavours (£2.99 for a pack of four 200ml pouches, Tesco).
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Rice cakes

For an easy snack that all young children will like, a packet of rice cakes is perfect for lunch boxes. Try ASDA Mamia’s Mini Apple Rice Cakes (59p), which are made from puffed brown wholegrain rice.
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Hartley’s Jelly Pots, 50p each, supermarkets. 

Hartley’s No Added Sugar Pots (115g) are perfect for packed lunches. Hartley’s is currently running an in-store collector scheme on these pots: collect 12 special edition green jelly lids to claim a free Hartley’s lunchbox with stickers to personalise. 

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