By taking a few moments out of your day on the weekend you can easily prepare a week's worth of lunches for yourself all ready to go. Tom MalterreJanuary 14, 2013 at 3:11 PMJust had the Quinoa-Bean-Lemon Tahini combination for lunch today and it was delicious! Bento boxes are soaring in popularity among the preschool set — and for very good reason. Let's face it, breakfast foods are usually tops with kids — and yet most never get around to sitting down for that morning meal. No need to pack a pair of hiking boots — a healthy trail mix is an anywhere, anytime kid snack (and an excellent way to get your kid to eat protein).
I like to use glass mason jars because they are easy to store in the refrigerator and transport well. If you make any changes or substitutions then please share what you did so others can learn. My name is Alissa Segersten and I've had a love of healthy food and cooking since the age of 10. 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 (and who won't stand for comingling of foods). Stick to varieties that are easy to eat (think elbow or penne, not spaghetti) and nutritious (choose whole-grain or veggie-packed options); keep them warm in a thermos (a little butter or olive oil will keep them from clumping together).
Mix raisins, chopped apricots, toasted slivered almonds, whole-grain cheese crackers, and Cheerios for a healthy, protein-powered preschool snack.

If you are working full time or going to school, you might want some ideas on simple ways to create a nourishing lunch. If we are rushed and decide to go out for lunch, even to a seemingly "healthy" place, we are probably unknowingly consuming genetically engineered ingredients, foods grown with pesticides and herbicides, or ingredients that are far too processed for the human body to thrive off of. After preparation, make sure to cover them tightly with a lid and store in your refrigerator for no more than 5 days, though I prefer to make enough for 3 or 4 days at a time. When I was pregnant with my first daughter in 2001, I diligently began writing down my recipes because so many people would ask for them!
It's easy to fall into a lunch-box rut, especially if your little one is a picky eater, and you're plum out of ideas for healthy options that don't fit neatly inside two slices of bread. Of course, you don't need a trendy lunch box to make a bento-style meal for your preschooler.
For a savory dip that will also get your little one to eat vegetables, try hummus (most kids love it), black-bean salsa (ditto), or even pesto (really!) with crackers or veggies like baby carrots or bell-pepper strips. You may even tempt a fruit-phobic preschooler to try dried mango, pineapple, apple, cantaloupe, even cherries and blueberries — the chewy texture and super-sweet taste may remind her more of the candy store than the produce aisle. Use an alphabet cookie cutter (or a knife) to slice a sandwich into the shape of, say, the letter C. For example, in place of the fresh tomatoes in the last option maybe you could use some salsa that you canned yourself last summer or use a little mashed winter squash. When you want to pack one in your kid's lunch box, throw it in fully frozen with a straw; by the time lunch rolls around, it'll have defrosted enough to sip.

Then add other foods that start with C, like a container of cottage cheese, some corn and carrots, a cheese stick, dried cranberries…you get the picture. I now have 5 children and am passionate about educating them about our food system so they can make the most informed choices as they grow up and are exposed to a world of processed, chemical-laden foods. Pack these nutrient-packed snacks and midday meals in your child's lunch box, and she'll be so busy munching she'll forget her finicky ways. Spoon hot oatmeal (made with milk for extra nutrition) into a thermos and sprinkle with berries and almond slivers. Even better: Invite your preschooler to help you come up with some healthy lunch-box ideas for different letters of the alphabet. If you have any lettuce in the salad then it is best to wait to dress it just before serving. In fact, these layered salads are so pretty that it would be fun to see what you come up with.
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. A mix of complex carbs and protein will help energize your little bunny for the rest of the school day.

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