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Tips for packing a preschool lunch bag

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

It's snack time!

The school bag is packed. Your child can pronounce his teacher's name and even remembers to preface it with Mr. or Mrs. or whatever the proper title is. And the lunchbox for snacks? Well, it's time to get working on that. Here's how.

Preschooler with Lunch

There is a lot of pressure in packing a snack. It's not a lunch, which would require more food and thought. But it's not a fly as you go in the car thing either. Snack time in preschool is a sit down affair. Prep your child for independent eating and get packing.

Drinks

First off, if your child has never had a juice box, erase any fantasies you might have of packing one for snack time. A first time juice-boxer isn't going to be a pleasant experience for your child or their teacher!

Instead, consider using a reusable sippy cup or water bottle. What type of drink should you send with your child? Your best bet is water. Second best is 100 percent juices. And if it's a particularly hot day, a sports drink.

Food frenzy

Those little baggies of chips sure are cute. And the packets of cookies do look tasty. Yes, it's true. Now step away from the junk food. Yes, even if the package proclaims it to be only 100 calories.

Instead stick with healthier foods that your child knows. Pretzels? Good idea. Whole wheat crackers and cheese? Even better. But pack it yourself so you can control the sodium content in what you are sending.

Make sure you know whether your school has a no-nut policy or not. Many do these days, and that counts out peanut butter, most trail mixes and even things like Nutella, which is made with hazelnuts.

Snack time readiness

Most important is that your son or daughter is ready for snack time. It's going to be different than they have experienced at home, or very likely at daycare. They aren't going to have mom at the ready to cut, stab and coordinate into their mouths. So, ask yourself: Can they feed themselves? That's an essential. Are they neat eaters? That's a very helpful thing as well.Will they eat what you give them?

Set your child up for success by talking them though snack time at home and explaining what good manners are and why they are important.

Easy snacks

Here are some easy (and healthy snacks) for your Pre-K or preschool kid.

  • A piece of fruit like a banana, apple or pear -- must be able to eat without help
  • organic fruit leather (a healthy version of a fruit roll-up -- look in the health food aisle)
  • a mini bagel with jelly or cream cheese - for a neat eater only
  • crackers and cheese slices
  • Applesauce -- for a neat eater who can use a spoon well
  • freeze-dried fruit
  • fruit and cheese slices
  • cut up vegetables and dip
  • yogurt (if your child likes yogurt and can eat it neatly)

100s of school lunch ideas

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