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Preschool Lunch Ideas

Is your preschooler showing signs of becoming a fussy eater? Try some creative preschool lunch ideas with them!

Preschoolers are at an age when they start to show independence and have a reputation for being fussy eaters. Having to constantly generate new preschool lunch ideas may feel overwhelming, but have no fear – good nutrition at this age is achievable. All it takes is a little bit of food and toddler nutrition knowledge and, of course, lots of patience!

For more information on toddler nutrition click here

The Nutritional Needs Of Preschoolers

Preschoolers need to have an established daily routine and regular mealtimes have to be part of this.

It’s great for parents and preschools to both provide suitable foods at mealtimes, including morning and afternoon tea. It is up to the child to eat from what is offered – so the wider and more varied the selection, the better.

After a day at preschool and possibly attending activities in the afternoon, some children will not be hungry
at dinner time. They may have eaten enough during the day at earlier meals. So instead of making them clean
their plate, try to make the mealtime a pleasant social time together. It is still a great opportunity to
show children appropriate eating behaviours, like eating a variety of foods and tasting new foods, even if
your preschooler is not actually eating.

The nutritional needs of preschoolers can be met by offering foods from all the food groups.

What Are Appropriate Foods?

According to the Ministry of Healths Food and Nutrition Guidelines preschoolers need:

  • At least 2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables – no more than 200mL fruit juice
  • at least four servings of bread  orbreakfast cereal, rice, pasta or noodles
  • At least 2 to 3 servings of reduced fat milk, which can include yoghurt, cheese, calcium fortified soy beverage
  • At least 1 to 2 small servings of meat, chicken, fish, egg or legumes such as baked beans, lentils, chickpeas

The amount of food a preschooler chooses to eat will vary according to their size and activity levels.

What Food To Send To Preschool

Try to make sure you choose foods from the five core food groups.

  • Breads or cereal based foods like sandwiches, pita bread with a filling rolled up, pasta or rice based salad, sushi rolls, crackers with a spread, pikelets or fruit-based muffins. Note – some of these foods require refrigeration.
  • Include a dairy food for lunch or morning tea (e.g. a cheese sandwich, yoghurt, custard). Note – these items require refrigeration.
  • Firm fresh fruits, as well as dried or canned fruits, are easy to send for morning tea or lunch.
  • Choose easy-to-eat vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks, celery, capsicum. These need to be cut into appropriately sized pieces.
  • Small cans of baked beans, spaghetti or corn niblets are easy to carry and easy to eat with a teaspoon.
  • A bottle of water.


This fact sheet contains general information and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.

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