This post was written in partnership with good2grow. All opinions are my own.
A new school year means getting back into the routine of packing nutritious food to-go. If you’re sending your kiddo to preschool for the first time, this post will show you how easy it is to pack healthy foods kids will enjoy eating this school year and beyond!
No matter what type of eater you have, this post has something for everyone that can be packed in a bento box fast!
Healthy Snack Ideas for Preschool & Beyond
The best healthy ideas have lots of colorful foods, think fruits and veggies, as well as sources of protein and carbohydrates. All of ideas below can be enjoyed as a healthy snack or for lunch.
Since kids are easily distracted at lunch and snack time, cutting up foods into small bite sized pieces makes it easier to enjoy while chatting with their friends.
In addition to a variety of foods, I love adding a good2grow juice, which has no added sugars and no artificial colors and features spill-proof character tops that kids love, including Toy Story and PAW Patrol.
1. For the Kid Who Hates Crusts
This healthy bento turns a sandwich into crustless sushi-like pieces that kids love to devour by simply removing the crusts, flattening out the bread, placing the ham on top, rolling it, and slicing it up.
In addition, fresh fruit and veggies fill their bellies and provide added fiber and nutrition.
2. For the Kid Who Needs Extra Protein
For many of us, getting out youngest kiddos to eat protein can be a challenge when away from home and this bento makes it more fun for them!
Roll up some turkey, place a few cheese cubes, dice up a hard-boiled egg for nourishment!
To this bento I added some whole-grain crackers and fresh fruit.
good2grow has hundreds of characters your child can collect throughout the year, which you can purchase at your favorite retailer like Target or Walmart.
3. For the Kid who Loves to Snack
If you have a child that loves to graze the pantry and is always asking for a snack, this bento box is ideal.
It’s filled with nutritious veggies, fresh fruit, a hard-boiled egg for protein and oatmeal snack bites.
Grab the recipe for the oatmeal snack bites at the bottom of this post.
If you’re thinking that your kiddo doesn’t eat carrots or red peppers, as shown above, simply swap them for any colorful fruit or veggie you have on hand.
As you can see, these bento boxes are quick to assemble because most of the ingredients can be prepped (washed and sliced) ahead of time, allowing you more time in the mornings to get out the door on time.
4. For the Kid who Loves Dinner
Turn pasta leftover from dinner into another meal by adding some frozen peas, or any other veggie, drizzle a little olive oil and combining it well. For added protein, you can dice up some ham or turkey.
A compartmentalized container is always a great idea because it separates food, and it allows our kiddos to enjoy the fruit at snack time and the pasta at lunch!
5. For the Kid that Loves to Dip
Delicious dips, like hummus, are great to send along with freshly cut veggies because it makes eating them more interactive and fun!
To add more substance to this bento, I also added some of the oatmeal snack bites since they’re easy to make ahead and they last up to a week in the fridge. Grab the recipe for the bites below.
As you can see, I’m a big fan of introducing kids to a lot of colorful foods and adding variety into their meals. In addition to 100% apple juice, good2grow also offers fruit and veggie blends that taste great and organic fruit juice with 75% less sugar, which you can learn more about here.
Watch the Video to Pack like a Pro!
Assembling healthy bento boxes is easy and fast when you have lots of fresh and healthy ingredients on hand.
I’ve put together a video to show you how to make packing easier; including tips to use leftovers, how to mix-and-match nutritious ingredients, and make the oatmeal bites.
How to Pack Snacks & Lunches for Pre-School & Beyond
One question that comes up often is how exactly does one pack healthy snacks and lunches for school that kids will actually finish? My biggest tip is to imagine your kiddo sitting around their new friends wanting to chat and socialize. To get them to eat their lunch, you’ll want to:
- Cut foods into smaller, bite-sized pieces
This is especially helpful for younger kids so they focus on eating one bite at a time while socializing.
- Add variety of colors/shapes/ingredients
Colorful foods like fruits and veggies add a lot of nutrition per bite and different items in a lunchbox makes it more interesting to eat!
- Use a compartmentalized container
Kids love to separate their foods and “make sure things aren’t touching.” A compartmentalized container does both. It also helps keep foods in place and separates wet ingredients from dry ingredients and prevents them from getting soggy.
- Send something that’s fun along with their bento box
Another reason I love including good2grow fruit juices along with a bento box is because kids love their taste, and their favorite character often provides a topic of conversation with other kids!
There’s nothing better than talking about your favorite character to break the ice at lunchtime to help get to know your new friends.
Healhty Snack List & Ingredients for Bentos
Need some items to help you fill your bento boxes? Here is a snack list of tried-and-true ingredients to pull from!
Sliced or cut into small pieces.
- Peaches, fresh, frozen, or canned
- Pineapple, fresh, frozen, or canned
- Grapes, halved
- Watermelon and melon
Sliced or cut into small pieces.
- Carrots, chips or baby carrots
- Bell pepper strips
- Broccoli & cauliflower pieces
- Peas, frozen or canned
- Cucumber slices
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
Sliced, rolled up, or cut into small pieces.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Lean deli meats
- Tuna & salmon, canned
- Homemade chicken nuggets
- Grilled chicken, leftover
Dips & Spreads
Use these to make veggies & fruit more fun to eat.
- Nut-free butters
- Honey mustard
- Ranch or favorite dressing
- Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt Dip)
5 Healthy Bentos & Preschool Snacks – Oatmeal Bites
Kids bento boxes have never been this fun and nutritious! Start this school year with fresh ideas!
- Yield: 18 bites 1x
- Category: Snacks
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup flax meal (ground flax)
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- ½ cup nut-free butter
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut, flax, mini chocolate chips, if using.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter or peanut butter, honey, and extract.
- Pour the almond butter or peanut butter mixture into the oat mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Cover and allow to chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
- Once it’s chilled, use a cookie scoop or spoon to scoop the mixture and roll into balls. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 1 week.
- Serving Size: 1 bite
- Calories: 165
- Sugar: 18.9g
- Sodium: 32.9mg
- Fat: 5.9g
- Saturated Fat: 2.8g
- Carbohydrates: 24.2g
- Fiber: 2.3g
- Protein: 3.2g
- Cholesterol: omg