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There’s nothing worse than trying to come up with lunch on those days when daycare is going crazy. You lost Suzie’s shoe and Bobby won’t quit pulling hair. These 5 minute daycare lunches are going to save your bacon! Running a home daycare is not easy, but check out tons of articles on the blog that are going to make it easier for you.
I’ve done family childcare for 26 years, and I have come up with some hail marys in all departments. Lunch is no different. We all have days when we need 5 minute daycare lunches! So what do you need to meet CACFP requirements? Some protein, some grains, a fruit, a vegetable, and some milk.
- If you’re wondering about the child and adult care food program for daycare providers, check this out.
Milk is a given, so we’ll assume it’s being served in all of these dishes. Since it has to be fluid milk, there are no recipes or changes we’ll make to it.
There are the obvious choices such as cheese and crackers or sandwiches. You can use sides like sliced up fresh cucumbers, baby carrots, fresh snap peas, oranges cut in wedges, bananas cut in half and peeled, or slices of apples for quick sides.
You can also do canned vegetables, toss them in a microwave-safe container or saucepan, and heat them up in a snap. Canned fruit is a great quick side as well. And don’t forget about applesauce or pickles for an open and eat side dish.
Easy daycare lunches
Along with cheese slices on sandwiches or crackers, you can also use those bags of cheese cubes for your protein element. Just open and serve them out with crackers on the side. Kids don’t care if it’s sliced. They take them apart to eat them anyway (and sandwiches too).
You can make cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, or even tuna salad sandwiches.
Another great quick protein that can go with crackers or bread is cottage cheese. Kids eat this stuff up and it’s so easy. Pork and beans or other canned beans are a protein too. You can serve that with any bread and sides as well.
You could probably whip up grilled cheese or cheese quesadillas in close to 5 minutes for a quick main dish. I buy the Sargento sliced cheddar cheese for a time saver for things like that. It’s so good and so easy.
If you buy a turkey breast and cook it, or they even have them pre-cooked. You can cube that up and pull it out in portions for a quick protein. Again, these easy proteins can be served with bread, crackers, croissants, bagels, biscuits, buns, rolls, tortillas, or whatever grain item you have on hand. It doesn’t have to be a sandwich on sandwich bread, you can just as easily use a hot dog bun. Kids don’t care at all.
If you have a few minutes to whip up some noodles, you can do ramen or cook some elbow macaroni and toss it in butter and a crushed clove of garlic. I have never met a kid that didn’t like garlic butter pasta, no matter the shape. And some pasta only cooks for 3-5 minutes. You can toss real ham in that or the turkey breast chunks, or add a few cans of chicken or tuna for a super quick 5 minute daycare lunch.
Another great idea is one my friend Tracy shared with me. It’s called a cheesarito and sounds delicious. You take a flour tortilla, add cheese on top and microwave it to melt it, and then roll it up. Kids would LOVE this! And so easy.
Any kind of cheese, slices, shreds, cubes, whatever would work. You can add salsa if you like as well. And another way to do it is to use mozzarella and add a spoon of pizza sauce and then add a few pepperoni when it comes out of the microwave. A pizza cheesarito. I promise the kids will love these.
Easy toddler lunches
Wraps are fun and easy to make in just a few minutes. Try this easy hummus wrap, full of protein and it has vegetables right inside. Think of all the things you could roll up in a tortilla.
You can also turn them into pinwheels or roll ups like these turkey roll ups. Kids love stuff like that.
Don’t forget about whipping up some quick scrambled eggs. Add some cheese for flavor if you like.
You can also get a few premade sausage patties to keep on hand and just microwave them if you get in a pinch. You can do the same with chicken nuggets or other convenience foods as well.
Don’t forget about refried beans. You could open up a can and put it on some tortilla chips with some cheese for nachos. Or even just some shredded cheese on chips in the oven for cheese nachos. And you can use refried beans or canned whole beans in a tortilla for a quick bean burrito. All it needs is beans and cheese rolled up in a tortilla.
I always cook up a big crockpot of beans and freeze them in quart bags to make bean burritos and add to chili or whatever. My kids LOVE that. I think bean burritos might be their favorite all-time over all these years. Or taco soup?
They are a close tie. And speaking of taco soup, if you use canned ingredients and heat it up really quick, you could have it ready in 5 minutes. It’s better if it cooks longer, but if you only have 5 minutes, you have a meal that kids like.
And don’t forget that you can prep food ahead and make these daycare freezer meals to save you even more time on the day-to-day with lunch. I love having things prepped ahead. In fact, meal prep is one of my favorite time savers. It can turn out a ton of 5 minute daycare lunches in the future. (If you have planned ahead)
I like to meal prep on the weekends. I’ll boil eggs, roast a bunch of vegetables on a sheet tray and pack them up, make cucumber salad, wash up lettuce, baby carrots, and snap peas.
I love to cut up a bunch of apples and oranges, squeeze one of the oranges over the apples so they won’t turn brown, and put them all in a big bowl. Then the kids can choose apples or oranges for multiple meals.
On my food paperwork, I call it mixed fruit since it’s mixed together and they get both. This is a great way to serve fresher fruits and veggies but still save time at mealtime while the kids are there. For years I’ve done meal prep on Sunday afternoons after church.
They even sell some fruits and veggies already cut up if you don’t have time to meal prep yourself. Use what is convenient when you need to.
You can also bulk cook ground beef or chicken or whatever and bag it up and freeze it for later like you did a big ham or turkey breast. Then you could throw together a quick taco, spaghetti, or whatever in a few minutes flat. Anything to save you time can save you big time in home daycare. That would give you even more 5 minute daycare lunches.
Check out these CACFP daycare lunches to inspire you with even more ideas for lunch for your daycare kids.
And for more inspiration for daycare meals that will save you money too, check out these dirt cheap meals for daycare.
The point is, we all have days when we need a hail mary, so don’t sweat it and pull one out. You’re already wonder woman, you’re doing this daycare gig. But when you run out of time, see what you have and make it work! You’re amazing and I’m rooting for you!
For more ideas on increasing your productivity, check out these time saving ideas.
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And if you’re looking for more low maintenance ideas, check these mess free activities out.