This post could have been called ‘Encouraging Independence in the Kitchen’ or ‘Lunches Young Kids Can Make,’ but let’s be honest – I am simply feeling lazy about fixing lunches now that summer vacation has hit our house! Here are some ideas that are working for us, and many of them do have the added bonus of involving the kiddos in lunchtime prep. A win-win, right?
Muffins: My kids love muffins – I mean, really love them! Even when I adjust the recipe to use whole wheat flour, substitute applesauce for the oil, add shredded veggies – love them! Their favorites are pumpkin, zucchini, and banana. Sometimes, lunch is a muffin and a piece of fruit. Works for me!
Yogurt Bar: Yogurt is something my kids will reliably eat, so this is often a breakfast or lunch choice for us. Something about all those little bowls of toppings makes it seem like a treat!
- toppings: granola, cereal, sliced fruit, berries, raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, sprinkles
- stir-ins: jelly, peanut butter, honey, maple syrup
Tortilla Roll-Ups: This is another fun assemble-your-own meal that can be sweet or savory depending on your child’s taste.
- Sweet: peanut butter, jelly, cream cheeese, honey, thin slices of banana or apple, raisins, chopped nuts, etc.
- Savory: cream cheese or Laughing Cow soft cheeses, slices of meat, thinly sliced or grated veggies, lettuce, etc.
Finger Food Tray: For some reason, when I cut things into small pieces and put them in a divided tray, my girls devour their food. I don’t know the psychology behind it, but it works! When we’re playing outside and don’t want to bother coming in, this is usually the lunch I bring outside. This is also a great way to use up odds-n-ends you have in the fridge or pantry. I have used divided condiment trays, muffin tins, scone pans, ice cube trays, etc. A few food ideas:
- Sandwiches cut into bite-size pieces
- Cheese cubes
- Cereal bar pieces
- Fruit chunks with toothpicks for picking up
- Crackers or pieces of bread, english muffin, etc.
- Veggies – the more thinly I slice carrots, celery, and cucumber, the more likely they will eat them.
- Dips: ranch, peanut butter, yogurt – whatever goes with your food!
- Muffin Tin Monday is a great collaborative resource for more meal ideas like this (hosted at Her Cup Overfloweth).
Smoothies: This does require my help, but tossing things in a blender is not so hard! We generally use milk or orange juice, yogurt, a banana, and some frozen fruit (mango and strawberries are the current favorites). My 6-year-old will also let me throw in some spinach, but my 4-year-old is not so keen on that idea.
Have a lazy summer lunch to share? Leave it in the comments – I need more ideas so I can maintain this laziness all summer!