Last Updated on January 1, 2023
Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, lunchtime can be tricky. Meals must be healthy and delicious, so children stay happy and engaged in their playtime.
Toddlers are also notorious for their picky eating habits, so these meal ideas should hopefully make it a little more enjoyable for everyone. With that in mind, Here are some of our favourite toddler lunch ideas to help you be a little more creative and keep the kids happy (and have a little fun).
24 Quick and Easy Lunch Ideas For Toddlers
Hard-boiled eggs and spinach
Healthy foods are much more appealing to parents when they’re easy to make! Simply boil two or three eggs and some baby spinach. Slice the eggs, and make the spinach into small edible balls, so your little one doesn’t experience difficulty with any long strands while they swallow. Better yet, add some thinly sliced sweet potatoes on the side for some healthy carbs.
Another one of our healthy toddler lunches is this veggie wrap come burrito. Simply mix together some boiled veggies, some healthy brown rice, crushed black beans and a tiny bit of your toddler’s favourite sauce (if you so wish). Wrap it all tightly in a lightly toasted tortilla and serve on a plate with some cucumber sticks on the side. If it all stays intact, this is the best way to get some hidden veggies into their system.
Boiled rice and lentils
A popular dish across most of Asia, simply mix some rice with red split lentils and bring it to boil like porridge on a slow gas mark. Add some ginger and a pinch of turmeric for scent and colour (turmeric has many other benefits, too). You can even add some cubed chicken, frozen peas or anything else you fancy boiling in the pot at the same time. A healthy, wholesome, tasty dish best served hot in a bowl.
Banana/apple yoghurt muffins
These are little muffins that kids love. Simply mix all the ingredients and bake, but don’t add sugar; the fruit will add sweet flavouring. You can also add a tiny amount of blueberry or strawberry jam to make the muffins even more colourful and fun.
Hummus, carrot sticks, and pretzels
These make great snacks for toddlers because it’s perfect for little ones who love being in charge of what they eat. To make hummus, simply spread hummus on a plate with carrots and pretzels on the side. To make carrot sticks, simply cut them into long pieces and place them on a plate. You could also add sliced cucumbers, which are great for hydration.
This is one of our favourite toddler lunch ideas because it’s easy to make at home without ingredients that kids shouldn’t have yet (e.g., salt and sugar). Start by mixing up some macaroni according to the package directions. Then add in cheese sauce or milk-based sauces (such as ranch or honey mustard). You can also add veggies for extra goodness and flavour.
Turkey on a pretzel roll
This is a great toddler lunch because it’s something kids love, and you can find made-in-a-bag turkey (or any other deli meat) that you can reuse for other foods (such as sandwiches). You can also buy precooked turkey slices that are already sliced, so you don’t have to mess around trying to slice up your own burgers.
Sliced apples with peanut butter, honey, or almond butter
This one is for slightly older kids, and, although apple slices can be quite filling, this one is considered more of a healthy snack than a lunch. Serve the sliced apples with peanut butter or honey on the side (provided they aren’t allergic to nuts). Perhaps throw in some steamed carrots to make it a little more substantial. This is a great way to get kids to start experimenting with fruit and veg by themselves.
Yoghurt, granola, and fruit
Yoghurt is a pretty healthy food and this recipe is perfect when it comes to easy toddler lunches. Simply try making yoghurt and granola together. For example, use plain or Greek yoghurt with some honey or your own homemade granola. Also, add in some sliced fruit for extra flavour. This portion may seem small, but it’s surprisingly filling.
Here’s a recipe for the whole family; a tasty pasta salad that will keep the adults intrigued and the kids well-fed. Mix together garlic powder, pepper, oregano or Italian seasoning, tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Add some veggies such as boiled butternut squash, broccoli or cauliflower to make the salad healthier. Mix the pasta and all of the veggies. Then mix in Greek yoghurt for extra taste. You can also add some shredded chicken or beef crumbles for protein.
Cereal on toast
It might not sound like the most appealing toddler’s lunch, but trust me, it goes down well. For example, put cereal (such as cinnamon toast crunch, honey nut cheerios, or something similar) on a piece of bread. Top with another piece of bread and toast in the oven or a sandwich maker.
This is one of our favourite toddler lunches because it’s easy to make and tastes delicious. Just mix up some cheese slices with a little jar of salsa or green salsa and wrap it up in a tortilla (you can also use pita bread). You can also add in chicken strips for extra protein.
Fruit skewers with yoghurt
To make this lunch, cut up some fruit (apples, bananas, pears, etc.) and make little kebabs of them. Use a lolly stick (not a toothpick) to put the fruit on, then serve with low-fat yoghurt. Or, stick any different fruit your toddler loves on a skewer and let them enjoy. For example, you can mix in mango, strawberries, peach slices and watermelon. A decent portion at lunchtime should give them the energy and goodness they require until tea-time rolls around.
Pizza can be healthy if made properly at home with the correct ingredients and toppings. According to the BBC, it can provide protein, fat, saturated fat, fibre, calcium and lycopene, so don’t let this put you off thinking it’s “junk food”. For this lunch, lay out some passata, basil and crushed garlic together with some soft veggies onto your base (make your own or buy from any supermarket). Sprinkle some grated cheese and olive oil, and cook in the oven until it’s crispy brown (usually 8-10 minutes). Then just slice it up into small pieces and serve.
Pasta and meat sauce
This is one of the easiest meals for slightly older toddlers because you just cook up pasta noodles and make some ground beef or tomato sauce with it. Then serve it as usual and eat together.
Egg and toast
This is a great lunch for toddlers because eggs are easy to grab and eat on their own or with almost any other food group. To make this meal, we’ll keep it simple. Boil some eggs and place them in an egg holder. If you choose to keep the yolk runny, make sure they are stamped with the British Lion Eggs logo, which ensures a reduced presence of salmonella. Then place 1 or 2 slices of bread, cut into 4 strips each. Show your little one how to dip the bread into the runny yolk. Serve it with some fruit on the side as a special “dessert”.
This is a fun way to dupe a fussy eater into thinking he’s eating a Mcdonald’s meal. Salmon burgers are an excellent toddler lunch idea because salmon is rich in omega-3, and kids love burgers! You should oven-cook or lightly fry the salmon (don’t serve raw fish to children under 5). Serve the salmon stips in burger buns and even throw in some salad or lettuce. Find some buns with sesame seeds if you can, as they are a good source of several nutrients crucial for the immune system, including zinc, selenium, copper, iron and vitamin B6.
Sandwich Ideas For Toddlers
Nothing beats a quick sarnie when it comes to easy toddler lunch ideas. Better yet, if your child is now in a nursery and needs to take a packed lunch, sandwiches are usually the best option.
Most kids love sandwiches for lunch, and you can easily make different kinds each day, so they have variety. For example, you can make a peanut butter and jam, or an egg sandwich with kale in, on one day. The next day, perhaps try a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich to mix it up. If you’re not sure what the kids will enjoy, just ask them which foods they like.
Although it doesn’t beat a balanced meal, here are some of the best and most popular sandwiches for toddlers:
Peanut butter and banana sandwich
This is our favourite because it’s a great alternative or addition to “PB&J”. To make this, toast two pieces of bread and spread with smooth peanut butter. Place bananas on the bread, and then cover with another piece of bread. You can also cut it into triangles if you’re saving it for a packed lunch.
Avocado and cheese sandwich
We love this one because it has a deliciously rich taste, but isn’t too hard to make. Also, avocadoes are essential to a child’s diet because they are full of nutrients such as vitamin C, E, K, and B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. Just spread some cream cheese on two pieces of bread, then spread some crushed avocado on top of the cream cheese. To make it even tastier, you can toast this one in a sandwich toaster!
This is another great lunch for toddlers because it’s easy to make and very healthy. Mix up some canned tuna with sweetcorn or thinly sliced cucumber (or any other type of addition you fancy). Some people like to add mayo. If so, add the light version and only a touch. Then take a slice of bread and spread on the tuna mix. Can be warmed in a toastie maker but can become very fishy and not to everyone’s taste.
Similar to the burgers we mentioned above, salmon is a great sandwich filling for toddlers as it tastes yummy and is full of goodness. You can mix salmon with other healthy fillings such as cucumber, avocado, egg and anything else your little one loves. Top it with some lettuce for some extra crunch. It’s not too smelly and off-putting for kids, making it a perfect addition to a nursery lunch box.
Egg and cheese sandwiches
These sandwiches are perfect for toddlers who like to play with their food, because they can just grab the cheese slices or egg pieces out of the sandwich, which might be messy for parents, but fun for playful kids. To keep this sandwich simple, use mature sliced cheddar and hard-boiled eggs sliced into 4 or 5 thin pieces.
Peanut butter and jam
This is probably the most famous and among the easiest toddler lunch ideas because it takes 1 minute to make; perfect for on-the-go mums! We suggest making it healthier by using whole-grain bread, and using a sugar-free jam, or at least one that has natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.
Meat or chicken sandwich
Getting toddlers to eat what adults are eating can be a real challenge. To help kids learn to like adult foods, you can make “baby-adult food sandwiches” by serving slices of your Sunday roast in a sandwich, or shredded pieces of your jerk chicken in some bread with a little sauce and salad.
Making lunch for toddlers doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. As you can see from the above, there are tons of different lunch recipes to choose from; we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg! We suggest trying out a few and then picking ones your child enjoys.
To help your children eat better at home, try giving them their own “cooking time” at meal time too. That way, they can help make some of the foods they’ll be eating (e.g., crackers, brownies), which is fun for them (and tasty too).
Ash is a proud father of two wonderful kids; a hyperactive young toddler and her sports-crazy older brother. When Ash isn’t running around doing fatherly duties, he’s researching and writing up articles on improving the well-being of children and their parents.