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Perfect Portions – a Healthy Lunch for Your Preschooler

healthy foods for children
Perfect Portions – a Healthy Lunch for Your Preschooler

A preschoolers lunch. Too big, too small or will they even eat it at all? Try some of these ideas to spark up your little one’s taste buds and make their lunch size perfectly portioned.

Anything on a Stick

Have a day where everything is on a stick. Skewers are the easiest thing since sliced bread. Just take the individual components of a typical sandwich, cut them up into bite-sized pieces and thread them on – in no particular order – little squares of bread; chicken or turkey; cheese; pickle slices; grape or cherry tomato halves, olives. Is your preschooler a fruit fan? Create a fruit kebab she can enjoy with a yogurt dip. Speaking of dips, dipping makes healthy snacks tastier – not to mention more fun to eat. For a savory dip that will also get little ones to eat vegetables, try hummus, black-bean salsa, or even pesto with crackers or veggies like baby carrots or bell-pepper strips. Reminder: for a safer skewer (pointy objects and preschoolers don’t mix), use one with blunt ends, snip off the sharp end, or use a plastic straw instead.  

Smaller Boxes Means Smaller Portions

Bento boxes are soaring in popularity among the preschool set — and for very good reason.The Japanese-inspired food containers are divided into layered sections with small compartments for individual foods — the perfect system for a preschooler who loves variety but in small doses. Of course, you don’t need a trendy lunch box to make a bento-style meal for your preschooler. Just divvy up lunch-style foods — pita chips and hummus, dry cereal, orange slices, bite-size cheese chunks, baby carrots and dip, and mini sandwiches — into small lidded containers. Remember that they are little people and don’t require a huge lunch of sandwich, chips, fruit, etc. They will be excited to see what lunch adventure you have prepared for them!

The following table gives guidelines for how much your preschooler should be eating each day.

Grain Group – at least 6 servings each day

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 4-6 crackers
  • ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
  • ½ bun, muffin, or bagel

Fruit and Vegetable Group – at least 5 servings each day

  • ½ cup cooked, canned, or chopped raw
  • ½ – 1 small fruit/vegetable
  • ½ cup juice

Milk Group – at least 3 servings each day

  • ¾ cup milk or yogurt
  • ¾ ounce of cheese

Meat Group – 2 servings each day

  • 1-3 tablespoons lean meat, chicken, fish
  • 4-5 tablespoons dry beans and peas
  • 1 egg

Fat Group – 3-4 servings each day

  • 1 teaspoon margarine, butter, oils

Lunchtime Learning

By now your child is learning her ABCs. Why not keep teaching her at lunchtime? Use an alphabet cookie cutter/knife to slice a sandwich into the shape of a letter. Let’s use a C to make this illustration. Add other foods that start with C, like cottage cheese, corn, carrots, a cheese stick, dried cranberries…you get the picture. Even better: Invite your preschooler to help you to come up with some healthy lunch-box ideas for different letters of the alphabet. (M is for melon, macaroni, meatballs; P is for peppers and peaches).

Here at Five Star Montessori, we are always looking for things to encourage and excite our little ones to learn and engage their minds. Making sure they have nutritious, proportioned food to fuel their day, helps them to learn and start with a foundation of health and nutrition.

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