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Toddler Lunch Essentials

Owen has started play-focused preschool a couple half days a week. We did this so I could have more time to work on blog stuff and my contributor/freelance obligations during the week; because while it doesn’t seem like it, this is a full-time job for me– I just work weird hours (basically when my kid isn’t awake). We also enrolled him in this program so he could have more socialization time with kids his age. And I may or may not have signed him up because I love how he instantly gets a smile on his face, yells “momma! hi, momma!” and runs toward me when I arrive to pick him up. Confession: I’ve recorded video on my phone of him running toward me so I can watch it over and over again. I can’t be the only mom to do this, right? Right?

One thing I’m having to get used to is packing his lunch. Since a lot of you like to know what products I use, I thought it would be fun to show you my current go-to the toddler lunch items. Keep in mind some of these can also be used for elementary-aged kids, and even yourself, as well.

And I decided to mix in some ‘girly’ items because I didn’t want to be all boy-mom centric.

Oh, stop it. It’s my pleasure, girl moms.

Toddler lunch essentials! Life-saving products to make packing your child's lunch faster and easier!

1. waterproof labels
I got these waterproof, dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, self-laminating labels to put on basically everything Owen takes to preschool– his backpack, lunchbox, water bottle, lunchbox containers, ice packs, etc. They work really well and have remained stuck to everything I’ve put them on.

2. backpack
Yeah, a kid doesn’t need to a backpack for lunches, but I threw in the backpack because it’s so stinking cute and we put his lunchbox in his backpack with his diapers. And his water bottle fits perfectly in mesh side pocket. I can’t get enough of these adorable animal backpacks. It was tortuous trying to decide which backpack to get Owen. And did I mention that the zipper pulls coordinate to the animal– the frog zipper pulls are lily pads, the elephant zipper pulls are peanuts, etc. So. Freaking. Cute.

3. roll-up bib
I’ve sworn by this roll-up bib since Owen started eating solids. I always keep one in our diaper bag. Owen just turned two, and while he’s pretty good with a spoon, he’s not a pro yet, especially with yogurt. So I always put a roll-up bib in his lunchbox.

4. water bottle
We own around 6 of these water bottles. I Now, I have to add that Owen only drinks water so we’ve never put anything but water in these bottles. But I’ve heard they wash well when putting milk and juice in them.

5. lunchbox
You know I had to get my kid a matching adorable animal lunchbox to go with his backpack. (I didn’t get him the unicorn, but isn’t it the cutest damn thing ever? I want one for myself.) I seriously hate how many animal options they give you because it makes it that much harder to decide on which one to buy.

6. utensils
I love these colorful, BPA-free plastic utensils. They’re made by IKEA, but if you don’t have an IKEA nearby, you can buy them here.

7. bento lunch boxes
I actually bought this bento lunch set, but it’s in backorder. However, this set is basically identical and $4 cheaper than what I paid. Each box has three compartments so food can stay separated. I’ll also add that the bento box fits perfectly in his lunchbox.

8. ice packs
They make cutesy ice packs that are shaped like animals and cars, but I thought those might be a distraction (#MeanMom) so I opted for the boring slim lunch ice packs.

9. silicone baking cups
A friend clued me in on silicone baking cups this spring. They’re perfect containers for inside bento lunch boxes or other food storage containers when you need to separate food. The silicone baking cups are great for keeping wet and crunchy foods from touching, dips like hummus, and containing small foods like blueberries.

10. reusable food pouches
I joke with Brad that I’ll let Owen eat from food pouches until he’s 18 if it keeps encouraging him to eat vegetables. I’m not gonna lie, I buy Owen’s vegetable pouches because I currently don’t have the time to puree his food and put them into reusable food pouches. If I did have the time, I’d be all about that though. But as I type this I’m starting to feel mom guilt. Maybe I’ll get up an hour early this weekend and make some homemade vegetable purees for him…

While I haven’t bought reusable food pouches yet, I’ve thought about getting them to put Owen’s Greek yogurt in to save his teacher from having to clean up his spoon mess. But now I’m thinking “If I did that I’d be taking away from valuable spoon practice.” Parenting is hard, you guys. Especially when you’re like me and overthink things.

Now go forth and make amazing toddler lunches.

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  1. I am going to have to try the contigo water bottle. We have a camel back one but lately its been leaking a lot! Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. I am still using the Inchbug labels on my daughter’s cups– they’ve lasted through her bottle and sippy cups and are now on her Contigo thermos cups. I give them as baby gifts now– love them. As for putting milk or juice in the Contigo cups, I am careful to wash them and not misplace them but we haven’t had any issues keeping them clean– we only give her diluted juice though. I keep a few peel-and-stick placemats in her bag for restaurants so that if she decides to finger paint with salsa, we can wad that mess up and toss it.

  3. Very cute lunch ideas! Wish they had those when my kids were toddlers! Thanks for linking up to Merry Monday! Pinned to my Back to School board! Have a great week!

  4. Thank you for this post! I bought the labels, and they are a little pricey, but great! I used them to label all the stuff my son needs for preschool (pencil box, gluesticks, pencils, etc). Also, I got the utensils at IKEA. My 4 year old has been really wanting to use a knife lately, so this was a great set that is safe and appropriate for his age. We have the Contigo water bottles and both my sons love them!

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