Adding a side of veggies to lunch can often seem like too much work—but these ideas are super easy to make in the moment or ahead. Find my go-to vegetables for lunch recipes including picks for raw and cooked options!
Vegetables for Lunch Recipes
I always feel like I’m struggling to add easy veggies to kids lunches that the kids actually want to eat—so not too boring or plain and actually easy enough for them to chew. To help if you find yourself in the same situation (and myself!), I wanted to share my favorite raw and cooked options for easy vegetable side dishes.
TIP: I’m trying to include options that all toddlers can eat, but you may have to adjust some of these based on the specific chewing ability of your unique child.
Raw Vegetables for Lunch
Raw veggies are often too hard for little kids to chew, but there are some that are great—especially if you know how to cut them so they are easy for the little ones to chew. Use the image above for reference and start on the left with one year olds and work your way from shredded to thin sticks and diced pieces to thicker pieces as they become more proficient in chewing.
- Bell pepper, cut into strips
- Carrots, shredded, thinly sliced, or cut into rounds
- Cherry tomatoes, halved for kids under 4
- Celery, very thinly sliced (for kids over 3)
- Cucumber, sliced, diced, or cut into sticks
- Lettuce, shredded or chopped
- Snap peas
- Tomatoes, cut into wedges or diced
- Zucchini noodles
TIP: Offer a dip such as ranch, salsa, guacamole, hummus, or any other dip your kids enjoy to make these raw vegetables more appealing to your kids.
Easy Cooked Vegetable Sides
To make cooking any of these faster, you can always start with a precut bag from the store. All of these can be made right before a meal or ahead of time and reheated. Roasted veggies tend to lose their crispy edges after storage, but they will still have nice flavor. Some kids aren’t too fussy about temperature, especially one year olds, so all of these can be packed in a lunch and eaten cold or at room temp—you’ll need to experiment a little and see what your kids like.
- Carrots, sauteed
- Carrots, roasted
- Cauliflower, boiled
- Corn, frozen and warmed
- Beets, precooked from the produce aisle (in a vacuum pack from Melissa’s or Trader Joes) or canned
- Broccoli, frozen and warmed
- Broccoli, sauteed
- Broccoli, roasted
- Butternut squash, mashed
- Butternut squash, roasted
- Green beans, sauteed
- Peas, frozen and warmed
- Sweet potato, roasted
- Veggie Medley, frozen and warmed
TIP: Steam and serve microwavable frozen veggies are an easy option so see what your store has—you might be surprised at the fun veggies available now days!
Easy Vegetable Recipes to Make Ahead for Lunch
Packing easy recipes with veggies right in the mix is an excellent way to help the kids eat plenty of the nutrients they need. Here are some kid-friendly recipes you can make ahead and warm up for lunch.
- Cheesy Kale Bites
- Egg Muffins with Cheese and Veggies
- Baked Zucchini Fritters
- Broccoli Tots
- Cauliflower Tots
- Sweet Potato Chicken Nuggets
- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Spinach Pesto Pasta
- Veggie Pancakes
- Cheesy Cauliflower Rice
- Chicken and Sweet Potato Bowls
If you have another quick and easy veggie side you like to serve to the kids, I’ve love to know about it so please comment below to share!Print
Here are some tips on how to cut and serve raw veggies for kids to make sure you have all of the info. Nutrition info will vary based on the veggie you use.
- 1/8–1/4 medium bell pepper
- 1 small carrot
- 1 small slice celery
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 piece romaine lettuce
- 2 tablespoons-1/4 cup snap peas
- 1 small tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons-1/4 cup zucchini
- Bell pepper: Shred with a handheld grater or cut into very thin strips
- Carrots: Shred with a handheld grater or cut into very thin strips
- Cherry tomatoes: Cut in quarters or halves (kitchen shears make this easy)
- Celery: Very thinly sliced (for kids over 3)
- Cucumber: Shred with a handheld grater or cut into very thin strips, skin removed if desired for younger kids. Diced and rounds are good for kids 2/2.5 and older
- Lettuce: Shred thinly with a knife or kitchen shears
- Snap peas: Cut into small pieces to start
- Tomatoes: Slice into small pieces, then try wedges
- Zucchini: Spiralize into noodles or use a veggie peeler to cut thin strips
- Offer a dip such as ranch, salsa, guacamole, hummus, or any other dip your kids enjoy to make these raw vegetables more appealing to your kids.
Start with shredded veggies with one year olds and work your way from shredded to thin sticks and diced pieces to thicker pieces as they become more proficient in chewing.
Store any leftovers veggies for another day in an airtight container in the fridge.
Remember that toddler serving sizes are small—2 tablespoons is a great place to start (and it’s okay if they don’t always eat that amount).
Try to make sure the veggies taste good to you by adding and offering dips and tasting them yourself for freshness.
Add any leftover veggies that the kids aren’t eating to your own salad. You can even add cucumbers and lettuce to smoothies!