Non-Heated Daycare Lunches
January 29, 2013 11:17 PM   Subscribe

Need lot of ideas for lunches for a 1 year old.

We're trying keep offering lots of new tastes & textures while he's happy to try new things. We've been doing baby led weaning and he eats most of what we do. Usually I pack up leftovers for him but starting next week, he'll be in a classroom that can't heat up food (but they have a refrigerator). So, ideas for what I can pack for lunch?

He loves pretty much all fruit, yogurt, crackers, chicken and ground beef, but will. not. touch. eggs, avocados and raw tomatoes.

No peanuts or products processed in a plant that also processes peanut products.

He like sweet potatoes and I've cooked, cut up and frozen a bunch so we can just pop a few frozen chunks in a container and its thawed by lunchtime. Other things I can do this with would be awesome.
posted by HMSSM to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Pasta, particularly penne. With or without sauce. Will they open containers for him? A little tupperware tub of dipping yoghurt-style sauce is nice for veggies.

Little cooked sausages ( in appropriately cut up shapes). My understanding is that cutting sausages like a 5cent coin is a choking hazard, but cutting it up like a julienne shape is safer.

Sliced olives, blueberries, strawberries, wrap bread with avocado on it. That's just off the top of my head. cross buns with melted cheese on. Melt it the day before and keep it airtight.
posted by taff at 12:01 AM on January 30, 2013

I wish I had taken better advantage of the "open to new things" time to introduce as many non-sweet options as possible (e.g., broccoli, sprouted beans, unsweetened nut butters and/or dairy products). You might consider cutting back on fruits and sweet potatoes for now—they will generally still be easy to introduce later.
posted by she's not there at 12:04 AM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oops, missed the avocado aversion thing. MrTaff covers 1/2 an avocado for ToddlerTaff in lemon juice, then zatar and gives her a spoon, and she now loves to eat it. .

MrTaff wraps it in plastic then shoves it in her lunchbox. But she's older.

Generally, I find kids love food service autonomy.
posted by taff at 12:04 AM on January 30, 2013

Oh, yeah, I hear it's an Australian thing...but banana sandwiches...just moosh it in to some bread. Add honey if you must, but ripe 'nanies don't need it. And kids don't need honey.

They may go a bit brown, but kids don't know that's unaesthetic.
posted by taff at 12:07 AM on January 30, 2013

Carrots as a snack especially when they're teething rock. Cooked carrots are nice too - if he likes lemon, a squeeze of lemon might make them better. Rice crackers, sprinkled with seaweed. If you can get the small sweet variety of bananas, they are great. Cubes of cheese with little finger sized bits of vegetables are great. A little container of yogurt and hummus with slices of cucumber on the side is good.

This trick is supposed to keep apple slices from browning.

Have you tried sardines or tuna? Both super healthy once or twice a week and fine at room temperature or even chilled. You can add olives and lemon and serve with crackers.

Are other nut butters allowed? Tahini is a good spread for wholemeal bread.

One is just the right age to introduce Vegemite....

We have tried the pureed mixes in the tubes from the supermarket, but they are pricey and the tubes have burst in a bag dumped on the floor. The advantage is that they're shelf-stable and relatively mess-free to eat, and they have reasonable ingredient lists. They might be worth stocking up on for days when you're in a hurry and haven't prepped a lunch.

Be really wary of the bars and biscuits in the baby aisle. We ended up buying regular crackers because every biscuit we could find in the baby aisle was sweetened or had something weird added to it.
posted by viggorlijah at 12:10 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Kitchn has some good posts on no-heat lunches: Skip the microwave and Tips for lunches that can be left unrefrigerated
posted by neushoorn at 12:17 AM on January 30, 2013

I get most of my baby lunch and dinner food ideas from Some will fit your criteria, some won't, but they're all tried and tested and have saved me many times.
posted by Jubey at 12:27 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't have any specific suggestions, but you could try creating a list, with each letter of the alphabet!

Then... begin listing 7 things or so next to each letter!

7x26=182 various foods, try to only put new things on it, if your intent is for him to try new things!

Changing the language for some letters might help x)

Also, I don't think freezing and thawing changes nutritional value too much... But it does cause changes in the food once it reheats, even naturally! Just some thoughts. Intuition and Research will do most of the work for ya x). Good luck and good wishes!
posted by JamesBlakeAV at 12:33 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Toast fingers or pita pieces with hummus ... Also with feta cheese if you're making a pita pocket. Sometimes my bakery section has mini pita pockets, which are ideal for toddler food. You can also smear them with pesto or similar.

We used up the end of out baby food stock by spreading many leftover baby food pears on toast like jam, but less sugary.

Sliced cucumbers hold well at room temperature. "Cutie" oranges.

Cold pasta salads and corn-and-bean salads are better for having sat at room temperature a couple hours, and are piecey and easy to pick up.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:56 AM on January 30, 2013

Itty bitty baby meatballs. I used to make them for my kids when they were tiny.

Use your favourite meatball recipe (whack in some grated zucchini and carrot for added goodness, and put a cube of cheese in the middle if you think he'll be okay with that), roll them to be maybe an inch or two across - larger if little HMSSM is inclined to shove the whole thing in his mouth - bake, and then freeze. They defrost by lunchtime because they're tiny. And they're very tasty cold.

(Come to think of it, I don't see why you couldn't enclose a cube of cooked sweet potato in the middle.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:29 AM on January 30, 2013

Try googling "kid's bento" -- there are loads of sites and delicious recipes and ideas for little kids' lunches, packed into fabulous boxes, like this site for example.
posted by bwonder2 at 2:27 AM on January 30, 2013

Chickpeas or hummus, pickles, cooked spinach with lemons, cooked mustard greens with cider vinegar, bits of chicken breast in a nice sauce, sliced red peppers, cooked eggplant with parmesan, smoked salmon, cottage cheese.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:42 AM on January 30, 2013

Seconding the 'kids bento box' idea. Here is another site that provides lunch ideas along with a nice product.
posted by eaglehound at 5:18 AM on January 30, 2013

Pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches both taste good cold.
posted by mareli at 5:20 AM on January 30, 2013

Sandwiches with cream cheese (and a little jelly or some raisins) or sunflower seed butter (like peanut butter, but nut-free)

Cheese sticks or cubes of cheese


My kids both like cold garbanzo beans, straight from the can. You can also roast them with different spices.
posted by belladonna at 5:44 AM on January 30, 2013

If you get a little bento box and use a (not too tight, just enough to hold it shut) rubber band to secure it, he will be able to manage that himself.

I used to make sushi (no fish) for my daughter.

I made cream cheese sandwiches I cut up at times.

If you can get the little ones with a compartment, you can put in pretzels in one side and peanut butter in the other.

I also peeled oranges (tangerines, etc.) and put them in zip lock bags.

The key is to get a little box with two compartments and the ideas will pour out of you.
posted by Yellow at 7:15 AM on January 30, 2013

Our kid loved lunchmeat, especially ham, at that age. Roll the slices up into little tubes and serve with string cheese sticks, and she was in noms-ville.

American chop suey - whole wheat rotini with pasta sauce, ground beef/ground turkey saute├ęd with bell peppers and onions. Then she decided she didn't like onions or bell peppers, so we substituted green beans and brocoli.

Tuna noodle - Whole wheat rotini is very useful. Use it again here, with tuna, mayo, noodles, diced celery and carrots. Also works with shredded roast chicken.

Celery sticks and baby carrots - She still loves these as snacks.

Pizza strips - a RI thing. Very tasty, served cold or room temp.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2013

Hummus, black beans, cheese, and peas were all big hits for our daughter at that age. Along with any fruit she could get her hands on, as has been mentioned.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:23 AM on January 30, 2013

Cheese cubes and grapes.
Summer sausage and cheese a wheat crackers.
Hummus and baby carrots and sliced bell peppers.
Lunchmeat-type salami, spread with cream cheese and rolled up.
Cold veggie pizza, cut up. It is made with a crust of something like Pillsbury crescent rolls, rolled out, a cream cheese spread and topped with raw broccoli, cauliflower, shredded carrot and so on.
Dry cereal like Chex or Cheerios in a bag for something crunchy.
Check out the archives of this bento site for lots of ideas for a toddler, and how to use leftovers in a cold lunch.
posted by catatethebird at 8:27 AM on January 30, 2013

My kid will eat a lot of things cold that others won't, but the thing that comes to mind that she likes best that is not already listed above is pancakes. Also, you could do other baked goods like muffins, scones, etc. They freeze well, and you can find savory options if you don't want so much sugar.
posted by freezer cake at 2:57 PM on January 30, 2013

My picky toddler likes thick chunky soups (read the labels, chose low sodium, real chicken etc) that I strain and just give him the "chunks" from. He's quite happy to eat this at any temp.

We also do a lot of bit size lunches. Halved (length wise) grapes, with deli turkey/chicken/ham (no nitrates) sliced into stamp sized bites, shredded cheese or string chese, toast fingers and an apple sauce squeeze tube.
posted by saradarlin at 6:18 PM on January 30, 2013

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