If you are constantly worried about what to pack for your child’s daycare lunch box, you have come to the right place. We have rounded up some easy ideas that will help you pack him a healthy and tasty tiffin to keep the nutrition worries at bay.

Keep it safe

Considering the developmental stage your toddler is in, providing safe food is of utmost importance, which means you have to be extra careful while packing meals. Planning for two or more feeding times at a day care facility is a common practice as toddlers have smaller tummies and need to eat small quantities more frequently - mostly one meal and one snack. Pick firm containers that will not leak solid or liquid food and will be able to withstand microwave heating. Avoid large pieces of food that can choke your kid, fruits like grapes, sticky and hard food items like chikki, candies etc.

Keep it fresh

Try making the food as fresh as possible. Avoid temperature-sensitive foods that spoil easily in hot weather, like those that contain coconut chutney etc. Foods with high moisture content (which can also spill) like dals, sambar etc. also spoil, especially during summers.

Easy to handle

Providing many small containers of different foods may be difficult for the caretaker as well as the child, so, fewer, wholesome and simpler foods may be a better idea. Labelling the items for each of the meals also provides an easy guide to make every meal well rounded. Avoid too much wrapping as it can get messy. Remove juices of canned fruit to reduce mess.

Keep it simple

Remember that the most-convenient snacks and meals that are bought from the stores are not necessarily healthy, and those that are nutritious, may not be convenient or easy to prepare and pack for day care. So, choosing simple foods with a smaller number of complex ingredients, especially unknown ones, is a good strategy. Consider providing at least one liquid item for the day so that your child’s hydration needs are not overlooked.

Foods that are enjoyed at a particular temperature should be provided such that your child’s joy of eating it is not lost. Hot foods should be served hot and cold foods should be enjoyed cold.

Below are a few healthy and easy meal and snack recipes for your toddler’s day at the day care centre:

  1. Puree of fresh soft fruit or sweet vegetables (carrot, sweet potato, beet root)

    Tip: Try scooping out the fruit pulp or blanching the fruit or veggie a bit to soften it.

  2. Fresh whole fruit or fruit with lemon

    Small fruits like strawberries, small apples, chikoo can be given whole or fresh lemon juice can be squeezed on them to keep them from browning.

  3. Jelly or jam-filled bite-sized sandwich squares

    Tip: The spread should be even to prevent globs that can be a choking hazard. Remove edges if hard.

  4. Round chapati bits dipped in ghee and sugar

    Tip: Keep the pieces small and smear sugar sparingly.

  5. Sweet potato stuffed paratha triangles

    Tip: Keep the pieces small and use regular potato optionally but keep the stuffing minimally spicy.

  6. Star-shaped dosa with butter

    Tip: Make dosa in interesting shapes and smear lightly with butter.

  7. Moong dal khichdi- soft, well-cooked and mashed

    Tip: Adding a bit of ghee, butter and mashed, cooked vegetables will make it tastier and healthier. Use colourful combination of veggies.

  8. Button idlis with ghee and jaggery

    Tip: Make small-sized idlis for ease of handling. Grated carrot or beetroot gives colour and is more nutritious.

  9. Semolina porridge

    Tip- Semolina should be well-cooked in milk and made tasty with jaggery and ghee.

  10. Paneer or cottage cheese pieces

    Tip- Crumble the paneer and cheese while feeding. Unsalted version is better.

  11. Egg omelette

    Tip- Use some amount of fat and make the omelette using the full egg. Avoid salt as yolk is slightly salty.

  12. Boiled egg

    Tip- Ensure egg is not over-boiled or undercooked.

  13. Oatmeal or rice porridge with raisins or fresh fruit

    Tip- Using fresh grapes or raisins which are mashed or pressed to prevent choking hazard is safer.

  14. Fresh fruit juices

    Tip- Ensure that the water used for making the juice is clean.

Toddlers are little individuals like you and me. Remember they have a will, a taste and preference of their own. Hence, meals that you pack for his or her day care need to be appetising, filling as well as full of nutrients. So there, now you can relax and now become the zen mom that you always desired to be.

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