How do you feed your toddler? The options seem endless – purees, finger foods, sandwiches, and more – but they can often be time-consuming and stressful to make. Don’t worry — we’ve come up with 10 great lunch ideas for toddlers that are fun, nutritious, and easy to prepare at home. Plus, you’ll also learn how to avoid everyday toddler food battles and how to get your child to eat just about anything! These 10 great lunch ideas for toddlers are simple to prepare, easy to eat and healthy to boot! Best of all, your toddler will love them!
Children go through stages when it comes to their eating habits, and during the toddler years, they can be incredibly picky. If you struggle to get your child to eat lunch without throwing a tantrum or going to bed hungry, look no further than these 10 great lunch ideas for toddlers! Some of these ideas may even work on adults!
1. Frozen Peas + Honey Mustard
Stick a few frozen peas in a plastic bag with honey mustard, and you have a leisurely lunch your toddler will love. Make sure to pack some carrot sticks or yoghurt so that you give your little one all three food groups.
It is great for toddlers because peas are one of their best sources of vitamin A, which helps with vision, cell growth, and can even help them avoid infections. Honey mustard also has a lot of benefits; it’s packed with antioxidants and manganese, which supports bone development.
Though you can use any type of dressing you want, know that many commercial varieties have preservatives, artificial colours, and flavours. Making your own dressing at home will give you control over what goes into your child’s food—and be better for their overall health in the long run!
2. Cream Cheese and Feta Wrap
This lunch idea is so easy; your toddler could probably put it together on his own. Put 1 tablespoon of cream cheese onto a whole-wheat tortilla, then add a thin layer of feta and roll up. Serve with fresh strawberries and baby carrots for dipping or munching straight out of your toddler’s hands!
If you want to make things fun, pack these wraps in their favourite lunch box along with some pastels and paper to draw on while they eat their snack. At that age, toddlers will get a kick out of doing what mommy does at work every day.
3. Chicken Nuggets
Cut chicken breast into nugget sized pieces. Pan fry or bake, add ketchup, mustard and serve with a side of broccoli spears or french fries. It is an easy lunch idea that kids and toddlers love! The breading will make them feel like they’re eating junk food, but it’s super healthy, so you don’t have to worry about it. And breaded chicken is a fun way to get your picky eaters to expand their horizons. I was never a fan of chicken until my mom started breading it!
Bonus points: kids love play food too! The beauty of nuggets is that they can be shaped into any shape your child wants: stars, hearts, flowers—you name it! You can give them as many toppings as they want or even let them make their fun creations with sauces and veggies. Best part? Most kids will eat them right out of their hands instead of on top of a plate, so cleanup is easy peasy.
4. Banana + Nutella
If you have a toddler, you can understand that lunchbox ideas aren’t always easy to come by, especially if you want to keep sugar intake at a minimum. That’s why one of our favourite combinations is simple: banana and Nutella. Not only is it an easy way to get some healthy foods into your child’s diet, but it also can help introduce them to fruit (which they might not otherwise try).
No, we’re not crazy. A mash-up of bananas and Nutella is a healthy option that your toddler will love! Try putting a small amount (only 1 tsp.) of Nutella on a sliced banana to make an easy, healthy and nutritious snack. If you prefer more classic sandwich style lunches, spread Nutella onto whole-grain bread and add some banana slices. Perhaps throw in some raisins or dried cranberries as well. Banana and Nutella make a tasty lunch combo no matter how you slice it!
5. Avocado Toast
Slice up some ripe avocados at night before bed, so they’re ready to eat in the morning. You can toast a slice of whole-grain bread (or better yet – serve on brown rice crackers) and layer avocado slices over the top.
Besides, this is an easy, quick lunch option that your toddler will love! Toast 2 slices of bread. Mash up 1/2 an avocado and spread on top of one piece of toast. Top with another slice of toast, cut into triangles and serve!
A tasty and healthy lunch, avocado toast is full of protein. It will help keep your toddler full throughout their afternoon playtime. Plus, avocado is a good source of magnesium and an excellent source of potassium. Magnesium keeps bones strong, and potassium helps with muscle contraction and nerve transmission. In addition, it helps your child’s muscles recover from an activity like playing on the playground or riding their bike to school.
6. Fruit Salad
Fruit salad is a great lunch idea because it involves good nutrition and a nice fun aspect. Incorporating fruits into your toddler’s diet will add vitamins and nutrients to their daily intake. In addition, it is an exciting way to get your kids involved in cooking – let them help make it!
To make a fruit salad, simply get some fresh fruit that is in season and cut it up into bite-sized pieces. It will give your toddler something to play with while eating their food, making them feel like they are having an actual meal instead of just something they eat. It can also be good if you have picky eaters in your house. Some perfect fruits for a fruit salad include apples, bananas, berries, pears, etc. Try not to mix too many different types of fruits at once, though, as you don’t want things getting soggy or spoiling before lunchtime arrives!
7. Fish Sticks
Fish sticks are a straightforward lunch to prepare. They’re easy to make and don’t require any fancy ingredients. Simply bread some frozen fish sticks and cook them in a nonstick pan on your stovetop. Top with ketchup or a simple homemade barbecue sauce if you have some on hand (it also works great on chicken nuggets).
Kids love fish sticks. If you have time, consider making homemade fish sticks with your toddler. They can help shape and mould them into fun shapes. Not only will they feel extra special when their sandwich is served in their very own creation, but it’s also a great way to get them used to help with meals at home. Fish sticks can be served with sweet potato fries or green beans. It’s nice to switch things up from time to time because introducing new vegetables and fruits will help encourage your toddler not to be so picky about what they eat!
8. Mini Turkey Meatloaf Minis
This mini turkey meatloaf is a great idea if you’re looking to get your kids to eat healthier. It is not only delicious, but it’s also effortless to make and has a kid-friendly flavour profile.
Take a classic comfort food and shrink it to toddler-sized proportions. For example, instead of a two-pound meatloaf, make these mini meatloaves that are just one or two bites each. They’re easy to eat—and they make a great after-school snack when served alongside ketchup and mayo. We especially love these meatloaf minis because you can easily add extra veggies before putting them in their mini muffin pan! For example, try grated zucchini or shredded carrots in your mini meatloaves—they add flavour, moisture, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
9. Shrimp with Herbs and Lemon Zest
Grab some shrimp and chop it up into bite-sized pieces. Zest a lemon and squeeze some fresh juice over that: mix olive oil, fresh parsley, fresh tarragon, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss in your shrimp with some of that mixture. Bake in an oven at 425F for about 20 minutes or until done; turn over once during cooking. Serve with toasted bread or rice crackers or on their own!
10. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
A classic lunchtime favourite, grilled cheese sandwiches are a great way to get your toddler to eat. It is an easy way to add nutrition into your child’s diet without overloading them with extra calories or sodium.
Choose two different kinds of cheese, such as cheddar and mozzarella, and have him pick out which one he wants on his sandwich. Then, toast up some whole-wheat bread, and you’re good to go! If he decides not to finish his meal at lunchtime, make sure that he takes it with him to snack on it when he gets hungry later in the day.
To conclude, the same lunch options that work for adults may not work for your toddler. In addition, you’ll find that your little one will have particular preferences about what they want to eat and drink, which makes lunchtime something of a challenge!
Kids love to explore food. One minute they’re snacking on crudités, and an hour later, they’re munching on scrambled eggs and avocado toast. Although children can eat a lot more than we give them credit for, we must serve balanced meals alongside fun snacks at mealtimes. The following 10 lunch ideas are a delicious way to get your toddler excited about their midday meal. Try out one or two of these combinations today!