Try these healthy toddler lunch ideas when your little one needs a meal for preschool, daycare, or the sitter.
Coming up with toddler lunch ideas is such a huge challenge for so many parents, myself included! These ideas will help you continue to come up with easy-to-pack toddler lunches that are also yummy and healthy. Each packed lunch can be enjoyed right out of a lunchbox, no reheating required, whether your toddler goes to daycare, preschool, or just needs a meal to take on the go.
Mix and match as you like for your little one, refer to my Master Snack List for help rounding out meals, and you can include fresh veggies and fruit that your toddler usually likes as simple sides. And keep these things in mind when assembling your child’s food for the day:
- Try not to send something that your kiddo has never seen in any form or tasted in any variation before. You want lunch to be fun, yummy, and familiar.
- Check any allergy or ingredient guidelines at your center or school to help keep everyone healthy.
- Ask for feedback on how your child ate so you know what they are liking (and not liking…).
- Don’t worry too much if their appetite varies from one day to the next. This is totally normal!
15 Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare
1. Hummus Sandwich
Spread hummus between slices of soft bread or place into a container and serve with whole grain crackers or sliced soft veggies. There’s Butternut Squash Hummus, Black Bean Hummus, Edamame Hummus, Beet Hummus, Pea Hummus, or Regular Hummus to keep things varied.
2. Egg Salad
Slice or cube hard-boiled eggs and serve along side whole grain pita wedges as deconstructed sandwich or crackers. Include a fruit, a veggie, and perhaps a little treat in the mix too. Healthy treats could be fruit leather, a few pieces of a favorite dried fruit, or your kiddo’s favorite snack.
3. Spinach and Cheese Pizza Rolls
Include some fruit, a simple dessert, and/or some cubed meat or beans to round out this easy pizza-inspired lunch.
4. Toddler Taco Salad
Make a container with brown rice, black or pinto beans, diced veggies, cubed cheese, and some salsa (if your kiddo likes it) for a tot take on a taco salad.
5. Pesto Pasta Salad
Either using store-bought or homemade pesto (you can skip the nuts if need be and the flavor will be almost the same), toss into a pasta salad with halved cherry tomatoes, diced cheese or chicken, and thawed peas. Pair with fruit.
6. Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins
These are good at room temperature or heated (and they work well to make-ahead). Include whole grain crackers or pita bread, some fruit, and perhaps some beans or simple veggies.
7. Power Packed Fruit and Veggie Muffins
Pair with yogurt or a cheese stick, a piece of fruit, and maybe a little cubed chicken, turkey, or ham.
8. Tortilla Roll Ups
Spread Sunbutter or other favorite nut butter onto a soft flour or whole grain tortilla and top with a banana or whole-fruit jam. Roll up and slice. Add thawed edamame, puffs, clementine, or another favorite fruit and veggie alongside.
Or, try spreading on cream cheese, add a piece of sliced turkey, and roll up into a simple wrap.
9. Sandwich Bread Spirals
Roll soft whole grain sandwich bread flat and thin with a rolling pin. Spread on cream cheese and jelly, nut butter and jam, mashed sweet potato and nut butter, hummus, mashed beans and salsa, or herbed goat cheese. Slice and serve as spirals with simple sides to round things out.
10. Pancake Sandwiches
The next time you have pancakes on the weekend, double the batch and place leftovers in the fridge or freezer. Spread nut butter (use Sunbutter if lunch needs to be allergy-free) or cream cheese and jam or honey between for a simple, but unexpected sandwich.
11. Soft-Baked Cinnamon Chickpeas
Pair these flavorful beans with whole grain crackers, diced veggies, cheese, and a piece of fruit for a simple snack lunch. (Or pair with leftover rice, shredded chicken, and roasted veggies.)
12. Yogurt Parfait
This is one of our favorite toddler lunch ideas: Layer berries, diced mango, or even roasted diced sweet potatoes with plain full fat yogurt and granola. Or, serve all ingredients side-by-side in a container. Serve with a favorite green veggie like diced cucumber or peas.
13. Overnight Oats with Yogurt and Berries
There’s no reason you can’t do breakfast for lunch—and you could spoon this yogurt and oat mixture into a reusable pouch if that’s easier for your toddler. Include sliced fresh veggies like halved cherry tomatoes, fresh snap peas, or shredded carrots or leftover roasted veggies, whole grain crackers, and/or some beans or shredded meat for added protein.
14. Mini Meat and Cheese Stackers
Cut cheese and meat slices into small, bite-size shapes and stack with a thin smear of mayo, mustard, or hummus between. Serve with whole grain pita bread, toast, or crackers, and a favorite fruit. (You can also skip the condiments and just do a DIY Lunchable!)
15. Creamy Quesadillas
Spread herbed or plain goat cheese onto soft flour tortillas. Slice into wedges for a quesadilla that’s great cold. Add dried cereal, a small granola bar, and some produce alongside.
*Add water and milk as needed and as preferred to these toddler lunch ideas and always serve specific foods in sizes that your toddler can handle.