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lunch box staples for toddlers

August 2021 - Family Wellness

Now that your little one has mastered sampling all the purées, it’s time to graduate to finger foods. For me, this stage has been the most fun so far. You can create nutrition-packed bites that their chubby little fingers and tummies can handle. Plus, for many this is when daycare starts, and packed lunches become a daily (and never-ending) routine.

When building lunches, I like to include a mixture of textures and flavours arranged in a bento-style kit. This allows you to mix and match items from your freezer supply while adding in freshly-made items and snacks.

The Menu

These recipes are perfect for large batch cooking. Plan for a day of prep yielding a couple weeks of supply!

  • Mini Spinach & Banana Oat Pancakes
  • Pumpkin Waffles
  • Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Tots
  • Chicken or Turkey Bites
  • Teriyaki Rice with Quinoa & Veggies Cups
  • Banana Oat Power Bites
  • Cheesy Broccoli Bites
Prep your kitchen

Shopping List

  • spray oil for non-stick (I like avocado or coconut oil)
  • cooking oil of choice (I like coconut oil)
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 can pure pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
  • oat milk (or milk of choice)
  • chicken bone broth
  • applesauce
  • maple syrup
  • vanilla extract
  • red lentils
  • rice
  • breadcrumbs
  • rolled oats
  • whole wheat flour
  • almond flour
  • nutritional yeast
  • baking powder
  • ground cinnamon
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • paprika
  • salt
  • 4 medium bananas
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 medium to large sweet potato
  • 1 large carrot
  • frozen green peas
  • fresh kale
  • fresh spinach
  • fresh blueberries
  • thumb of fresh ginger

Equipment

  • baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • small and medium sized mechanical scoop (not necessary but makes easy mess-free even portions)
  • blender or food processor
  • mini muffin tin
  • waffle iron
Mini Spinach & Banana Oat Pancakes
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • big handful fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • coconut oil
  1. Add all ingredients except coconut oil and blueberries to a blender. Blend until smooth. Stir in the blueberries.
  2. Melt 1 tsp of coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. For each pancake, spoon 1 to 2 tbsp of batter to the pan, using the back of a spoon to spread into a circle.
  3. Cook about 3 minutes. Flip over and cook the other side until lightly brown. Repeat until all batter is used.
Pumpkin Waffles
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup pure pumpkin purée
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups milk of choice
  1. Preheat waffle iron on medium heat.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, eggs, coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and milk.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. If the batter is too thick, add more milk in ¼ cup increments until the batter resembles cake batter.
  5. Pour ½ cup of batter onto the waffle pan and cook according to your waffle iron directions. Repeat until all batter is used.
  6. Let cool slightly before cutting into sticks along the waffle pattern. Serve with a small bowl of yogurt, applesauce, or maple syrup for dipping.
Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Tots
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato
  • ½ cup cooked red lentils
  • ½ cup chicken bone broth
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Use a fork to mash the sweet potato.
  3. Add all ingredients except oil to a mixing bowl. Mix well.
  4. Using a small scoop, drop mixture onto the baking sheet spacing 1″ apart. Once all scooped out shape with hands into classic tot shape. Spray or brush oil over each tater tot.
  5. Bake 15–20 minutes, flipping halfway through. They should be slightly crispy on the outside and lightly golden.
Chicken or Turkey Bites
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 large carrot
  • ½ cup kale
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Dice avocado. Grate carrot. Remove stem from kale and finely chop.
  3. Add all ingredients to a bowl. Use a fork to mash together.
  4. Using a medium scoop, drop mixture onto the baking sheet spacing 1″ apart. Gently press down to form patties.
  5. Bake 20 minutes.
Teriyaki Rice with Quinoa & Veggies Cups
  • 2 cups cooked rice (cooled)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup peas (frozen or canned)
  • ½ cup cubed carrots (fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup onion
  • ¼ cup low sugar teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Finely dice onion.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Stir in almond flour, teriyaki sauce, and ginger. Mix in remaining ingredients.
  4. Fill each muffin tin cup just over halfway full.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.
Banana Oat Power Bites
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup ripe banana
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Mix until fully combined into a thick, slightly sticky mixture.
  2. Scoop 1 tbsp of the mixture and roll into a ball. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. Store in the refrigerator.
Cheesy Broccoli Bites
  • 2 ½ cups broccoli (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Grate cheddar cheese. Gently whisk eggs.
  3. Chop broccoli into tiny florets. Steam broccoli 2–3 minutes until tender.
  4. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  5. Using a small scoop, drop the mixture onto the baking sheet. Gently press down to form patties.
  6. Bake 25 minutes, gently flipping halfway through.

Chantelle Nuttley is the marketing manager for Nature’s Fare Markets and new mom. She is passionate about cooking, baking, and natural wellness.

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