Make lunchtime more like a party than a slog with easy snack trays!
I love doing something simple like this when I find myself totally over making lunch for my family every dang day.
Putting together a snack tray is one of my favorite things to do for kids when we find ourselves in any of these positions:
- We need a change-up from PBJs and grilled cheese when it comes to lunchtime
- I have a lot of little bits and pieces left over in the fridge that aren’t enough for a full meal
- I have a lot of things on my daily schedule and getting lunch ready isn’t one of them
The thing is, lunchtime when we’re all at home can become pretty boring, pretty quickly. It’s part of this whole same-old, same-old mentality; if I can change up one of our more rote aspects of our day, it doesn’t feel like every day is the same thing over and over again.
Snack trays totally fulfill that, for me. It also gives the kids a feeling of autonomy over their meals which, as I’ve talked about a ton of times before this (especially last week when we discussed feeding picky kids dinner), really helps kids eat more of their meals than when they are just handed something to eat.
Snack Tray Lunch Makes Kids Feel Like They Are in Charge (Even if You Really Are)
Children need to feel like they are in control of parts of their day. As a parent, you might outline the framework, but it helps their mental growth if they can make decisions to fill that framework.
This philosophy is super important when it comes to eating; when it’s not a matter of sensory processing issues, picky kids are often asserting control over one of the things they can control: what and how much they eat. By allowing kids to take control of that situation in a way that isn’t disruptive, it makes for a much smoother experience for everyone.
And, hey: you get to use up some of the leftovers in your fridge in the process. Everyone wins!
It Doesn’t Have to Look Perfect
If you go searching Pinterest or Google for snack tray inspiration, what you’ll usually find are big, beautiful charcuterie boards. Overflowing with Instagram-worthy fruits, vegetables, and perfectly smeared spreads, these platters are perfect for parties but way too fussy for a normal family’s snack tray lunch idea.
Don’t worry about making this perfect. Don’t even worry about putting it all on one tray. A snack tray lunch can mean just opening up or making easy access to a number of different items, and then letting the members of your family assemble lunch, their way.
Think Picnic Items
Another thing to watch out for: try to stick with items that don’t need to be heated in order to be enjoyed. Think cold cuts, nuts, sliced fruit. Think picnic items. The easier it is to access and eat, the better snack tray lunch it is.
Here’s my big list of Snack Tray Lunch Ideas for lunch days when you’re just not feelin’ making a big lunch. I hope you enjoy them- and it gives you a bit of a break!
- Hard boiled eggs
- Sliced lunchmeat
- Cooked sausage
- Cheese cubes
- Sliced fruit
- Nuts medley
- Snap peas
- Baby carrots
- Peanut butter
- Ranch or dip
- Finger sandwiches
- Leftover fried chicken
- Sliced cucumbers
- Roasted chickpeas
- Tortilla chips
- Pita bread
- Raisins or dried fruit
- Sundried or cherry tomatoes
- Jarred artichokes
- Dark chocolate squares
- Veggie straws