Motherhood is a little bit like being in the middle of a war zone… especially at meal time, am I right? But, us moms have to stick together, so the next time you’re drawing up meal plans (or should I say battle plans), keep these 25 toddler lunch ideas in mind! Seriously, this list of toddler lunch ideas includes something for everyone—even the pickiest of eaters.
As a mom who has been in the trenches, I know a thing or two about preparing lunch for toddlers. I’ve spent a lot of time honing this list of toddler lunch ideas, focusing on recipes that are quick, easy, and healthy—and still pass muster with my kiddo! I hope they work for you and your fam as well!
Be sure to let me know how it goes AND share your favorite toddler lunch ideas in the comments!
By the way, if you’re on the hunt for something a little lighter than lunch (like a snack), I’ve got you covered. Here are 38 healthy fun snacks for kids!
Toddler Lunch Ideas That Are a Twist on Classics
The first four recipes in our list of toddler lunch ideas go back to the basics but with a bit of a twist! 🙂
1. Turkey & cheese sandwich, cheddar rice cakes and strawberries (Life in Random Bits): This lunch for toddlers is equal parts healthy and yummy. A couple of snack suggestions to complement this meal are a banana muffin and carrots or celery and hummus.
2. Turkey, broccoli, crackers and grapes (Life in Random Bits): Here’s another simple yet well-balanced option that can easily be adjusted for what you have on hand. For example, if you’re out of broccoli sub in another veggie like carrots!
Tip: When making broccoli for my little guy, I buy microwaveable bags to steam the veggies in. This method is not only healthy but also quick!
3. PB&J rollups, carrots and cucumber and strawberries (Life in Random Bits): What could be more classic than PB&J, right? I love these PB&J rollups as an alternative to a standard sandwich. They’re the perfect size for little hands!
Tip: Worried about a nut allergy? This recipe, like most of the toddler lunch ideas in this list, can easily be adjusted to fit your needs. Sub peanut butter for a no-nut alternative like SunButter!
4. Corn dog muffin, broccoli with parmesan cheese, and strawberries (Life in Random Bits): Hot dogs are a lot yummier when they become corn dog muffins. Add a side of broccoli with Parmesan cheese and strawberries to make a balanced toddler lunch idea.
Toddler Lunch Ideas – 2 Year Old and Up
These next four toddler lunch ideas are suitable for toddlers (duh, right?) but they aren’t limited to toddlers. You might even find your older kiddos or yourself picking at them.
5. Cheddar cheese, sliced apples and kiwi, raisins, lemon pepper chicken breast, and baby carrots (Joyful Abode): With fruits, veggies, a healthy fat source, and lean protein, this is a meal any mom can be proud of!
6. Turkey and cheese hearts, applesauce, carrots and hummus (Life in Random Bits): This option is a thoughtful way to remind your little one how special they are! Simply carve out turkey and cheese hearts and serve them with applesauce, carrots, and hummus.
7. Plain yogurt with frozen blueberries, celery sticks with cream cheese and pecans, homemade applesauce, and half of a banana (Joyful Abode): Combining frozen blueberries with plain yogurt is a great way to add a burst of flavor and nutrients to this easy lunch for toddlers, and if your child isn’t a fan of nuts or he is allergic to nuts feel free to swap out the pecans for raisins.
8. Hot Dog Nuggets (a.k.a. pigs in a blanket) (Lil’ Luna): Hot dogs meet chicken nuggets? What kiddo isn’t going to love this? My son actually sucks the pig (i.e. hot dog) out of the blanket and eats that first before devouring the blanket (i.e. crescent roll).
Tip: If you’ve got the time, consider making your own fish sticks at home. You can use healthier breading options.
Creative Toddler Lunch Recipes
Sometimes, as a mom, you just have to get creative, especially if you want them to eat something healthy! Here are a few out-of-the-box toddler lunch ideas.
9. Gluten-Free Pizza Lunchables (Strength and Sunshine): Forget those overpriced store-bought Lunchables and make your own! Here’s a yummy gluten-free pizza option that (trust me) your kiddo won’t even realize is gluten free.
Tip: If store-bought “Go-Gurts” are also something your kiddo enjoys, give your budget a break by serving up this healthy, homemade alternative Go-Gurt with veggies!
10. Pumpkin bread, blueberries, bananas, cooked mushrooms and fried egg (Super Healthy Kids): Okay, don’t dismiss toddler lunch ideas, like this one just because they seem odd. It’ll amaze you what your kiddo will (and won’t) eat. Trust me; the picture for this meal could have been taken at my house. This is one of my son’s favs (with a hard boiled egg swapped in for the fried egg).
11. Hard-boiled egg, rye crackers, peppers, celery, and watermelon (Super Healthy Kids): Change up your child’s protein with a nutritious hard-boiled egg and instead of pairing it with plain saltine crackers give him rye crackers. Don’t hesitate to have your child try new veggies too like peppers. They make great toddler snacks.
12. Celery with nutbutter, cucumber and celery sticks, roasted sweet potatoes, and a hard boiled egg (Little Froggy Feet): If your family is trying to maintain a Paleo lifestyle, this lunch for a 2 year old might just fit the bill. It’s healthy, well-balanced, and varied… meaning your picky little eater has a lot of different options.
Toddler Lunch Ideas That Are Worth the Effort
As a busy mom, I don’t always have time to put together an elaborate lunch, so time was definitely a consideration when putting together this list of toddler lunch ideas. However, there are a few toddler lunch recipes that were certainly worth just a little extra time!
13. Grilled Cheese Roll-ups (Spend with Pennies): This unique take on a grilled cheese sandwich is easy for little hands to eat—not to mention it’s portable! The perfect lunch for toddlers at home, preschool, and beyond.
14.Mini Chicken Pot Pies (Princess Pinky Girl): Invest the time upfront, and this option will pay off in the long run! It’s freezer friendly so simply make a whole bunch on your designated meal prep day, freeze them, and reheat as needed.
Tip: Seriously, meal planning + freezing is a game-changer for busy moms! I can’t tell you how many times this has saved me when I’ve realized I don’t have time to cook.
15. Baked Chickpea Patties and Sweet Potato Fries (Girl vs. Dough): For a healthier take on fried foods, look no further than this veggie-packed lunch. It’s a great option whether you’re just looking for healthy food choices or are adhering to a vegetarian lifestyle.
16. Ladybug open faced sandwich with American cheese, tomato, black olives, and pretzel sticks (ConservaMom): What 2 year old will be able to resist this adorable ladybug sandwich? Let him help you construct this fun toddler lunch idea too.
Toddler Lunch Recipes That Push the Envelope
Okay, I’ll admit, I was initially skeptical about some of these toddler lunch ideas, but swapping things my son is familiar with and enjoys (like peanut butter and jelly wraps) for healthier alternatives (like lentil avocado veggie wraps) has worked surprisingly well. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope a bit; remember, nothing ventured nothing gained!
17. Lentil avocado veggie wraps (Any Reason Vegans): This yummy recipe is a great way to sneak veggies into your child’s diet. Roll them up in a wrap. Then add a couple of sides like carrots and apple slices and you’ve got a delicious and healthy toddler lunch idea a 2 year old will love.
18. Peanut butter and honey puzzle sandwich, half a banana, homemade chocolate yogurt, and strawberry slices (What the Girls Are Having): A peanut butter and honey sandwich shaped like a puzzle? Now there’s a toddler lunch idea 2 year old kids are sure to enjoy! And the chocolate yogurt is a great substitute for pudding or other sweets!
19. Ranch chicken poppers (Feasible Feast): Tired of serving your child the same chicken nuggets? Change it up with these delicious and flavorful poppers. This easy toddler lunch recipe is so good you may want to sneak a few.
20. Cheddar and spinach muffins (A Baking Journey): These muffins were a big hit with my son and they are perfect to pack for on the go. Add a fruit like blueberries, peaches, or pears to complete this easy toddler meal.
Tip: If you’ve got an extremely picky eater and just don’t think these recipes will make the cut, check out these 34 healthy recipes for picky eaters!
Rounding out the List of Toddler Lunch Ideas
Well, we’re almost to the end of our list of toddler lunch ideas… are you still hungry? If you’ve got room for another helping, here are 5 more easy toddler lunches!
21. Baby Pasta Bolognese (Red Kitchenette): This recipe is a toddler-friendly version of a grown-up favorite! (What kid doesn’t love pasta?)
22. Broccoli and Cheese Fritata Fingers (My Fussy Eater): Quick, easy, cheap, and packed full of veggies—what’s not to love? Seriously, this is one toddler lunch idea I might be repurposing as a general family side dish for dinner!
23. Celery, raisins, sugar snap peas, watermelon, cheddar cheese (Joyful Abode): Teaching your little one to count? Try this easy lunch for toddlers! This specific recipe is themed around the number 4 but you an easily bump it up or down to work on other numbers.
Tip: You can leverage this same idea to incorporate a specific shape or color. I love this because it makes learning fun and it gives your kiddo a variety of foods to try!
24. Shredded pork roast, rice, broccoli, onion, mushrooms and watermelon (Super Healthy Kids): Toddler lunch ideas like this one are flexible. You can easily swap in other vegetables (ex. carrots) to use up what you have on hand!
25. Ham, American cheese, cookies, holly shaped cereal bar, and melba toast rounds (What the Girls Are Having): Here’s another (non-pizza) homemade take on Luchables. Compared to the store-bought variety, this version is filled with healthier options. (Psst! It’s also healthier for your wallet!)
Whew! I don’t know about you, but I’m stuffed! These 25 toddler lunch ideas have filled me up. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I (and my son) have. (Psst! If you aren’t quite satiated yet, here are 44 more healthy lunch ideas for toddlers!)
Please share your experience with these recipes and your own favorite toddler lunch ideas in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.
These all sound amazing… But what about a toddler like mine who will pick the one thing off the plate she likes (grapes or cheese) then swear she’s not hungry unless she gets more of what she wants?
I feel your pain, Jessica, trust me! 🙂 I have tried not giving my son what he wants until he eats a few bites of what he needs (i.e. vegetables, fruits). For instance, I’ll say “You can’t have pretzels until you eat four scoops of mixed vegetables.” You can also try withholding stuff they love like Elmo or going swimming. Good luck!
How can I get my kid to eat her vegetables? I meant she likes fruits but she won’t eat vegetables or a tuna sandwich for instance
Tiffany Curtis says
I give mine the squeeze pouches. He’s fairy and gluten free Shi out gets tough making sure he gets all the nutrients he need.
You give her one thing at a time, offering the “favorite” items last
Great idea! I’ll start with the healthiest items…
This was a like saver for my grandkids who only sweets . Thanks so much
Happy to hear it, Kim! 🙂 Kelli
Thank you for sharing all of these ideas with us!
I could use these for myself! No toddlers yet, but plenty of work lunches to pack!
Shirley Symon says
I was thinking the same thing. My daughters are grown but I am a substitute teacher and only get 20 minutes for lunch.
Love love love these ideas and I’ll probably use them for my five year old too!
Most if not all schools and daycares are nut free, so you should make mention that they shouldn’t be brought into a class/daycare. Other nut butters are also prohibited.
Love your suggestions. Going to try! What lunch box do you use… Links to buy silicone muffin tins?
This is amazing. Added plus for the photos. Thank you!
Glad these ideas are helpful for you, Sherry! 🙂
Alta Beekhuizen says
I am desperate! My 2 and a half year old granddaughter seems to be living on fresh air. She does not eat any fruit (no apple, banana, strawberry, grapes, pear, oranges, watermelon, etc.); she refuses carrots, peas, potatoes, beans, pumpkin, lemon squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, etc.
It may be easier to say what she does eat: some chicken, a little cheese, Vienna sausage, pasta and sometimes a bit of rice. She is drinking milk and will sometimes eat a bit of sandwich.
What is going on with her?
Do other mothers have the same problem?
Yes my 3 year old is the same way. His pediatrician told me to focus on protein as much as possible and don’t worry about the rest for right now. I can count on 1 hand what he’ll eat!
My two year old is the same way she’s three pounds underweight and they put her a two pediasure a day, said she was failing to thrive….I feel like a horrible mother but I can’t hold her down and force food down her…that’s why I came here to find some cool fun ideas for mealtime
Nga Rabalais says
Appreciate your sharing those helpful ideas to us. Thank you Sherry!
You are very welcome! 🙂
tell her that you will get her a toy an dmaybe she will eat
I know this is an old post but where the container dividers?
Vegemite is what Australians use instead of peanut butter. I had a teacher visit Australia and bring some back for us to try when I was 10, it smells sweet like chocolate but definitely tastes like skunk spray/licking a tire. It’s an acquired taste, that’s for sure. Haha
I know this is an old post but this may help. I don’t use a single container because it gives them the option to pick. I use several tiny containers and I numbered them in the lid so the personal at daycare know what to give first. It has work great my child. Sometime she doesn’t eat all but she always try one or two items from each container. And in our way back home she always ask for what she had left. 🙂 good luck
Thanks, Candida! 🙂
Cindy Landmesser says
Thanks so much for the ideas! My daughter is a really picky eater, and I have to start packing her snacks and lunches next year. These are not only really creative ideas for a balanced cold lunch, but she will probably eat everything this way! You are a lifesaver. Thank you so much.
Hi Cindy, I am so glad these toddler lunch ideas will come in handy for you. My son is also a picky eater so I understand. 🙂 Kelli