Keeping preschool snacks interesting and healthy for your preschool child can be challenging.
While some preschools provide lunch for the children, a number of the preschools I have worked in require children to bring their own lunch and snacks for the day.
As an early childhood educator I can advocate on behalf of all teachers that you please avoid sending foods containing excess amounts of sugar to preschool. This is for your child’s wellbeing, concentration and attentiveness, as well as our sanity levels! One small treat is ok but it should be limited to that.
I’ve compiled a list of the foods that I have seen work best in the preschool environment over my 35 years of teaching, which I’ve outlined below.
One incredibly important consideration when packing lunch and snacks for your child to take to preschool is that they are able open them independently, or will be able to do so after some practice. While small challenges are important, please do not send something that requires an adult to open. In a busy preschool environment it is time-consuming for teachers to be opening difficult packaging for each child whilst also carrying out our normal duties and ensuring every child’s wellbeing at meal times.
Another extremely important aspect to keep in mind are foods that may not be allowed within your child’s preschool environment. Please make sure you check with your preschool about any allergen policies or risks to other children of the class. I know this can make it more challenging, but just imagine if it was your child who was at risk. Allergies can be life-threatening and need to be taken extremely seriously. It’s all part of being a supportive community.
Bear in mind that some preschools do not provide a refrigerator. If this is the case with your preschool, please include an ice brick with your child’s lunch. Do this for the whole year, not just in the warmer months. Additionally, some preschools do not have the facilities to reheat food as a result of food handling regulations. Please check directly with your preschool whether they provide these facilities.
20 suggestions for preschool snack and lunch ideas
I recommend that you use the below as suggestions, and include those foods that you know your child likes (and meet the criteria above) to ensure that you have a variety of meals to offer throughout the preschool year.
- Fruit. This can be whole, peeled or cut, depending on the fruit
- Fruit yogurt
- Rolled fruit bar (no added sugar or colors)
- Cheese slices or cubes
- Pre-cut vegetables, such as carrots or celery sticks
- Sultanas and other dried fruit
- Small pancakes
- Plain popcorn (excluding colored varieties)
- Crackers and cheese dips
- Plain rice crackers
- Plain granola bars
- Puffed rice cakes
- Multigrain crackers
- Fruit muffins
- Sandwiches: Suggested fillings include salad, ham, chicken, tuna, salmon, egg and cheese
- Wraps: Suggested fillings include salad, ham, chicken, tuna, salmon, egg and cheese
- Rice and vegetables, such as a stir fry
- Pasta dishes, usually tomato based
- Water: very important!
- Unflavored milk
What healthy preschool snacks have you found your preschool children love?