Preschooler eats

First of all, it feels so weird writing “preschooler” instead of toddler. They say time flies… and it totally does! Liv is definitely a little person with unique preferences, and a very strong opinion about what she’s in the mood for. 😉 Every day it’s a blessing to watch her grow, learn, evolve, and surprise us. 

W tom at hodads

(At Hodad’s, our favorite burger spot)

I’ve had some requests about Liv’s eats and how they compare to ours, so I thought it would be fun to put it into a little post.

Here are some similar ones from different stages in the past:

Munchkin eats (13 months)

4 make-ahead toddler snacks

Quick toddler snacks and packaged finds

Baby protein

Baby smoothies

My most popular posts of all time:

1 month of baby food, 1 hour, $20

Round 2

Liv just turned 3 in January, and for the most part, she eats what we’re eating. More specifically, she eats what I’M eating. Anything I make for myself, especially if it’s different from her food, she wants it. The other day, she ate a full bowl of salad because she was picking at mine, I wasn’t sure if she’d like it, so I asked if she wanted me to make her a bowl. She went crazy for it! (I’m pretty sure it was the TJ’s Tuscan Italian dressing and not the lettuce, but I’ll take it.) I’ve found that she likes options, and just as before, something she enjoys one day, she won’t like the next. That is, unless it’s pizza or dessert. (<— a girl after my own heart)

Here’s what the day’s meals usually look like:


This meal is usually different than what I have, because she’ll wake up and ask me for something specific. In the rotation: pancakes (berry chia, banana-egg, or the baby organic ones from Trader Joe’s), waffle, French toast, or oatmeal. Once she decides what she wants, I’ll serve it along with some fruit and an egg to go along with it. 

Mickey pancakes  1 of 1

This morning was French toast on wheat bread with maple syrup and strawberries

French toast

Morning snack:

This one changes up based on if we’re at home or out and about, but some faves are


Bars (Homemade granola bars or Trader Joe’s cereal bars)


Almond butter or peanut butter on an apple or banana

Amazeballs minus the protein powder or these energy balls


I like to pack lunch for when we’re on the go, or the days she goes to school. (She goes a couple of half days each week.)

This is where I confess that I’m in a bit of a sandwich rut. I’ll almost always make her some type of sandwich or wrap, which she loves, and I don’t switch it up too often. It’s either peanut or almond butter and jelly, a deli wrap with turkey, mustard and mayo, or hummus and veggies. Pizza does well, too.

Preschool lunch

Preschool lunch 2

Along with the sandwich, pizza or wrap, I’ll try to give her a couple of options to go along with it:

berries, grapes, or melon

cheese (she likes the Babybel cheeses or the organic string cheese)

hummus and veggies (cut into shapes using cookie cutters)

raisins or another dried fruit

trail mix (she loves the sweet & savory mix from Trader Joe’s)


Afternoon snack:

We try not to overdo it on afternoon snacks, because then she doesn’t have an appetite for dinner. If she’s hungry, I’ll make a fruit or veggie plate, or grab some chips with guacamole while I cook.

Snack  1 of 1 3


For dinner, she’ll eat what we’re eating, which varies from pasta, to enchiladas, to fish, tacos, slow cooker meals, soups, chicken, pizza, anything. Sometimes she’ll go crazy for it, and others she won’t. I’ve found that dinner is usually a lighter meal. I just like to offer her a variety of things, and sometimes her preferences will surprise us.

This particular evening, she had 4 servings of asparagus!

Dinner  1 of 1 22

(wild orange-maple salmon, lemon asparagus, and sweet potato with butter and cinnamon)

The “eat the rainbow” philosophy has continued to work well over here. She seems to enjoy trying to eat the different colors, and when I’ll put something like broccoli on her plate, she’ll say, “Yay, rainbow!” and take a bite.

Any fun ideas for preschooler lunches, or ways to get out of a sandwich rut? What are your kiddos favorite snacks??




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  1. Amber Schumann says:

    I’m in a total sandwich rut too. My daughter used to go nuts for her AB&J sammies, but now she rejects them when she’s at her nana’s and ends up getting offered a corndog *slaps forehead*. She follows the same pattern that you describe here with Liv… loves one thing one day, hates it the next, surprises us with liking something another day. It’s been hard packing her breakfasts and lunches 5 days a week with this streak she’s on. Looking forward to checking out some of the replies on here for ideas!

  2. I hope that I can feed my child as well when I have one. I always worry about what to feed them since obviously I don’t have any and don’t have much insight into that world yet. I can feed myself just fine, but it’s figuring out how to serve healthy food to a child that I need to read up on. It’s good to read that you don’t have to make a lot of different foods for you vs her.

  3. I’m so jealous you can pack peanut butter sandwiches! We can’t in Australia because of kids with allergies so I spend a lot of time going “but what else is there???!!!!!” 😀 Lots of tasty ideas here, thank you!

  4. In Australia children at child care centres, pre-schools, kindergartens and even primary schools are not allowed to take any peanut products – and that includes peanut butter sandwiches – to school for lunches or snacks! This is due to the large number of children who have peanut allergies – but it’s very much a new thing , my kids loved nuts and peanut butter and always took them for lunch!

    • It’s the same in the U.S. at schools and even summer camps.

      • My daughter has a peanut allergy and their preschool does not allow any nuts so we do we use Sunbutter on her sandwiches (made from sunflower seeds).

        My girls get excited to have the Applegate natural uncured beef hotdogs in their lunches- I cut them up and they like them cold 🙂 For breakfasts, they like muffins. I make a big batch and freeze them. They defrost in the microwave in less than a minute.

        • Fitnessista says:

          liv’s school in tucson didn’t allow peanuts, either, so we used a lot of sunbutter
          love the muffin idea, too! liv is a huge fan of the applegate hot dogs, so i’ll definitely have to add some to her lunches

    • Fitnessista says:

      that was how her tucson school was, too. at this school, they make the snacks for the kids and the parents pack the lunches. you are only required to bring peanut-free lunches if there is a kid in their class with an allergy, and her class doesn’t have any kids with allergies

  5. I’m totally in a rut with lunches for Hunter too! Heck, I get in a rut with my own lunches, so it’s especially difficult to get creative with a toddler. 😉 For dinner, do you offer something else if she doesn’t eat what you give her? I usually try to give Hunter 1-2 things I know he likes, and then 1-2 new things or things that he hasn’t liked in the past, but I always struggle with knowing whether I should give him more of what I know he likes. He’s already fairly picky, so I don’t want to encourage that even more, you know? But I also want to make sure he’s getting enough to eat because he’s already kind of a tiny kid.

  6. my 3.5 yr old is a picky, but healthy eater. He shuns healthy carbs (no potatoes of any kind, no rice, no pasta, minimal bread, although he will eat most crackers). His fav lunch (at home) is: organic deli meat wrapped around pepper strips/cucumber spears with fruit. Our daycare serves lunch family style and he usually will try things there, but never for me!

  7. Love this post!! I hope when i have kids, i am able to feed them this healthy.

  8. eat the rainbow is so smart for littles (and adults 🙂

  9. I’m surprised her school allows peanut products! My 4 year old takes her Bento Box daily and favorites are sliced red/yellow/orange bell peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, just about any type of fruit, cheese with crackers, raisin bread with butter, salmon (she loves it cold), greek yogurt pouches, and I usually include about a tablespoon of a sweet treat like choc goji berries, semi sweet choc chips, medjool date, etc. I think we are in a rut but I always say at least it’s a healthy rut. My daughter has about the same 12 to 15 foods that she rotates between and I’m okay with that as long as she continues to try new things.

    She definitely doesn’t like mixtures. She will eat broccoli, pasta and cheese but not together as a casserole etc. She will eat salad but no dressing on it.

    For breakfast we do chia oats, smoothies, eggs with toast, yogurt with berries, tomatoes…and if I’m in a rush it’s frozen mini pancakes.

    • Fitnessista says:

      i was surprised, too! her class doesn’t have any kids with peanut allergies, and they eat lunch in their respective classrooms. when they have a peanut allergy in their class, they make sure the parents know
      love the ideas to add fun things to the greek yogurt pouches; liv would love that!

  10. Sarah Quarles says:

    These are great ideas! I can’t wait my little one to start eating more and more of our foods. He is 9 months now 🙂 What kind of bread do you use? Do you ever offer crackers? If so, what kind do you like? I’m trying to write down healthy options for when the time comes!

    • Fitnessista says:

      we switch it up. she loves the little hamburger buns from trader joe’s, but i also get her the wheat wraps and the sprouted bread. she loves cheesy crackers (the organic cheese-filled ritz type crackers) but that’s pretty much it

  11. My girls are not big sandwich eaters so I actually rarely make them, I have been photographing their lunches so I need to do a post. They get lots of fruit and vegies, I find variety is key to keeping them from getting into picky ruts. Instead of a sandwich I do things like mini avocado sushi rolls, turkey slices and garlic roasted flat bread pieces, boiled egg and zucchini bread muffins, breadsticks and ham, pumpkin patties, cauliflower patties and sometimes even litttle serve of pasta salad. I love the cookie cutter vegie idea! So cute!

  12. I’m so not ready for solid foods yet! I know it is coming though because I was talking to someone while holding Cooper and a banana and I looked down and he was licking my banana. Oh boy.

  13. You have such a good eater! She sure does eat an array of foods that I am sure most ‘preschoolers’ haven’t even been introduced to! I love it!

    What are your thoughts about recipes containing protein powder for her? (I am not a mom, nor have I done any research on this…so I really have no clue if it is a good idea or not! Just wanted to get your take on it!)

    I am sure she keeps you guessing with not only her eats but what she says and does also! How fun!

    • Fitnessista says:

      she definitely does. she is a nut haha
      for the protein powder, i skip it. we have shakeology in the house (which has a LOT of herbs and superfoods that i’m not comfortable giving her) and the fuel-6, which has stevia (which is probably fine, but i skip it for her). i just try to give her lots of fresh foods that contain protein instead. thankfully she loves egg, nuts, chicken and the occasional steak 😉

  14. Rebecca A Meier says:

    Man do I WISH my kid would eat that great! When he was a babe, he would eat anything we put in front of him, in pureed form. Vegetables galore! But now that the stuff’s been solid for a while (he turned 3 in Feb), he’ll hardly touch any vegetables. *insert sad face*

    He does like meatballs, chicken, black beans, rice, fruit, cheese, hummus, yogurt, etc. BUT boy does my kid also love pizza, mac & cheese (who’s kid doesn’t – so I try to make it “healthy”), bread bread bread! (wheat only is all I’ll usually allow), chicken nuggets, and PB&J. So again, I try to make those last few things healthier since he loves them so much.

    But boy oh boy, I can’t wait for the day when he’ll eat loads of vegetables (like me)! Does that ever happen, LOL?!?!

    • Rebecca A Meier says:

      Forgot to mention, I even tell him white lies to get him to drink the juices I make…like the green ones are “hulk juice” and the red ones are “ironman/spidey juice” and if he wants to get big and strong and fight crime like those guys, he should drink them too. But hey, it tends to work 😉

  15. I think it’s funny how pizza is universally loved by kids (and most adults)…I don’t know what it is, but when I was a kid I probably would have eaten it every day if my parents let me!

  16. Great post! My 2 year old eats similar, we lucky we have girls that eat so well! 🙂

  17. Hey Gina!
    Great post! Would you mind posting a link to the cookie cutters you use for the vegetables? My daughter would love that and I feel like mine are all way too big??? Thanks so much, Xo

  18. i love that liv is learning to eat the rainbow at such a young age. when i have children someday, i hope to give them a variety of fresh and healthy foods, as well. i must say, i’m really impressed with her meals and snacks! she probably eats better than most adults 🙂

  19. I think it is so cool to watch children grow, and I bet it is even crazier to watch it firsthand with your own daughter! I love your disney inspired french toast! So adorable!

  20. I don’t have kids but I always get a kick out of seeing Shutterbean’s school lunch Instagram pics! She’s got some great (and creative/fun) lunchbox ideas for her son. 🙂

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