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Packing a Lunch Full of Real Food for an ‘Almost’ Toddler

by Allison Preiss, The Life of a Novice


Once I had my son, my perpective changed … on everything! When someone tells you everything changes once you have a child, that is no understatment. EVERYTHING changes! One aspect of our lives that has had a complete makeover is our food – how we eat. Though my husband and I were never ones to live off of boxed mac –n – cheese and instant noodles, I never did give too much attention to the ingredients gracing our foods.

After I embarked on homemade baby food and purees for my little man, it was only natural that I continued that trend as he grew older and started to consume more foods. Never one to be shy about what I feed him, our son has basically ate whatever we were having, just sometimes in a different form!

Packing lunches for the three of us during our hectic mornings is something I find peace in. I love cooking. I love food. The kitchen is my solace. But I know not everyone feels that way. I want to help show moms and dads out there that packing a healthy, “real food” lunch for your little one is much easier that you may think. The two keys to being successful at it are planning ahead and ensuring leftovers when you make dinnner!

My son goes to the sitter with his little red lunch bag packed with all kinds of goodies. He almost always has some of the previous night’s dinner for his lunch. If leftovers aren’t available, I plan ahead to have some grassfed ground beef or pork cooked up that I can pair with potato squares and some cheese. Easy to reheat and easy to eat! He also has two sippy cups filled with whole milk. Raw milk is illegal in my state, however I can source non-homogenized milk so that is what I purchase.

Fruit and veggies are simple, easy and healthy. He has a banana almost daily – he LOVES bananas. Contrary to popular belief, bananas are not binding. They actually contain amalyse, which helps aide digestion! Right now strawberries are in season so he gets slices of those mixed in with his banana slices.

When I pack him a side of yogurt, it is always plain and I flavor it myself. I stir a little homemade jam or fruit butter into it. If fresh berries are in season I cook them down into a syrup with a tad of water and honey and then mix it into the yogurt.

Applesauce is always an easy one and I sprinkle some cinnamon over top. When pears are in season, pear sauce is a winner too!

Raw milk cheeses are another option I like to stick in for a snack.  I break them into bite size pieces for him and he goes to town. Another quick goodie for snacking are sweet potato sticks. They are a soft and fun finger-food sized snack for wee ones. Roasted cauliflower or broccoli left over from dinner the night before and sprinkled with some parmesan cheese are also easy options that my son loves.

Most days, my little guy isn’t ready for breakfast before we have to leave, so I scramble a pastured egg for him, stir in some spinach or chard, melt in some cheese and pack it up for him to eat once he gets to the sitter. On the weekends that we make pancakes for breakfast, I always make sure there are extras to have for a few weekday breakfasts.

All of these suggestions can cost you pennies on the dollar and stretch themselves a lot further than a box of something processed. Source out BPA free, reusable containers to pack the foods up in and you’re being green too! With a little planning ahead you can have wholesome, delicious and healthy meals for your little one! A lot of these options can be prepped the evening before as well to save yourself even more time in the mornings.


Allison Preiss is a working mom, wife, apple picker & horse lover. Outside of her day job, Allison and her husband run a small orchard on their farm, Apolloson Acres. Allison has a true passion for horses; 4 rescued horses currently reside on the farm. She is also an advocate of local, real food, cooking from scratch, sustainability and being green. She blogs about all the antics that come with her everyday life over at The Life of a Novice.

Reader Comments (1)

Wonderful article, and I agree with everything Allison says!
Jun 14, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRachel

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