This is a healthy lunch toddlers recipe. Kids love chicken and fresh vegetables. What else do you need for a delicious, healthy lunch toddlers recipe. This lunch toddlers recipe was first published in 2011 and has been making kids happy since.
Toddlers are a feisty lot: when they first wake up, they’re in that special place in between sleep and awake. This means they can be fussy, cranky and grouchy. Pack the little one’s lunch box with healthy lunch toddlers the toddler will love to snack on.
Healthy Lunch Toddlers
Whether it’s for a quick and easy lunch at home, or for a daycare or preschool lunch box, get your creative juices flowing with these ideas:
Italian pasta salad: Cooked penne tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, sliced cherry tomatoes, and diced mozzarella cheese
Egg salad: Hard boiled eggs mashed with mayonnaise and served with whole-grain crackers, bell pepper strips, and apple slices for dessert
Zucchini fritters: Grated zucchini mixed with an egg and a spoonful of flour, shaped into mini pancakes and pan-fried in vegetable oil, served with sour cream
Chicken and applesauce: Fried or baked chicken tenders with store-bought single-serve unsweetened applesauce and cubed cheddar
Eggs in purgatory: Eggs poached in canned or fresh tomato sauce with chickpeas and baby spinach and served with whole-wheat bread or toast
Waldorf chicken salad: Diced grilled chicken with diced green apple, diced celery, and sliced red or green grapes mixed with mayonnaise and served with whole-grain crackers
Hoppin’ John: Diced ham steak with canned black-eyed peas, cooked long-grain white rice, and diced green bell pepper
Cold lunch plate: Hard boiled eggs with cucumber sticks, and plain whole milk Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries for dessert
Black bean guacamole: Canned black beans mixed with diced avocado, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, diced tomato, and chopped chives
PB & banana sandwich: Whole-wheat bread spread with creamy peanut butter and half a sliced banana, served with a peeled, seedless mandarin or clementine for dessert
Bagel and “lox”: Whole-wheat mini bagel spread with cream cheese and topped with sliced tomatoes so it looks like lox
Mexican pizza: Brown rice cake spread with guacamole and topped with grated Monterey Jack cheese and diced tomato
Mini sloppy joe: Ground beef cooked with chopped vegetables (onion, tomato, carrot, and celery), spooned onto a bread roll and topped with grated cheddar
Ham and cheese roll-up: Soft 8-inch tortilla wrap lined with sliced Virginia ham, sliced Muenster cheese, and romaine lettuce, rolled up and cut into four pieces
Hummus and veggies: Store-bought single-serve hummus pack with a whole-wheat pita cut into strips and mini cucumbers or sliced cucumber for dipping
Tuna sandwich: Canned tuna mixed with mayonnaise on whole wheat bread with baby spinach
Cheese and crackers: Cubes of cheddar, whole-grain crackers, sliced cucumber, and sliced grapes
Mini omelet: Egg omelet cooked with baby spinach, grated mozzarella, and sliced mushrooms (if your toddler will eat mushrooms!)
Decosntructed BLT: Cooked lean pork or turkey bacon with sliced cherry tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and whole-wheat toast cut into star or heart shapes, and mayonnaise for dipping
Savory muffin: Oat flour muffin with chopped carrots and broccoli mixed into the batter before baking, served with cream cheese
Macaroni and peas: Cooked elbow macaroni with cooked peas and cooked diced sweet potato
Meatball slider: Sliced, cooked meatballs layered on a bread roll with tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese
Chicken peperonata: Diced chicken breast and sliced bell peppers in different colors, sauteed in a little olive oil, served over pasta or rice
Southwestern pizzas: Top 6-inch corn tortillas with shredded Monterey Jack cheese, diced tomatoes, and chopped bell peppers; bake in the oven until the cheese melts
Cottage cheese with fruit: Cottage cheese with diced apple or pear, diced plums or pineapple, and sliced grapes
Tropical chicken and rice: Diced grilled chicken with jasmine coconut rice topped with diced mango, diced kiwi, and diced red bell pepper
Dippers plate: Chicken fingers and pretzels with mustard for dipping, and a dessert of sliced strawberries with yogurt for dipping
Buttered twisty pasta: Corkscrew (fusilli) pasta with melted butter and grated Parmesan cheese
Buddha bowl: Quinoa with steamed soy beans (edamame), cubed and roasted butternut squash, and diced red bell pepper
Mini pizza: Mini whole-wheat pita (or an English muffin split in half) spread with pizza sauce and shredded mozzarella, baked until the cheese melts.
What Does A Healthy Lunch For Kids Include?
When it comes to toddler lunches, or lunches in general, this is what I typically try to include (with the understanding that not every day is going to be perfect and that’s ok!)
- Vegetables: At least 1 serving of vegetables (the more the better!), cut small. For toddlers, I’ll often steam veggies somewhat soft since they’re easier to chew. For bigger kids you can prepare the veggies any way they like: roasted, sautéed, steamed, raw with a dip or dressing – the possibilities are endless!
- Fruit: 1 serving of fruit, which can be great for a snack or dessert. Try to go for lower glycemic fruits like apples, pears, oranges, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and stone fruits. When it comes to fruit, don’t do more than 1 serving for lunch. Lots of kids love grapes, but for toddlers you’ll have to cut the grapes in half (at least) so that they don’t become a choking hazard.
- Protein: 1 serving of protein, can be plant-based (e.g. beans, lentils); dairy (cheese, yogurt/Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs); or meat (chopped chicken or chicken nuggets, meatballs, fish)
- Complex Carbohydrates: The key here is to avoid all white grains. Choose whole wheat or sprouted wheat bread/tortillas/pita/crackers, whole wheat or legume based pasta, and brown rice or quinoa.
- Healthy Fats: Nut butters, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Cheeses, Avocado, Nuts and Seeds are all great options here.
Best Lunchboxes For Kids
These are my picks for my favorite kid and toddler lunchboxes – depending on whether you want to send all cold foods vs. foods that need to stay hot after they’ve been packed. I have ordered them from least to most expensive, so there’s an option for every budget!
Easy Lunchboxes – 4 Compartment
These are the perfect size for a toddler lunch, are super affordable, BPA free, and durable. Microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe. Best for cold lunches that don’t need to be reheated or kept warm, and for smaller portioned “snack type” lunches.
Easy Lunchboxes – 3 Compartment
A great option for an older kids lunchbox, or if you want to pack a full sandwich in your toddler’s lunch. Super affordable, BPA free, and durable. Microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe. Best for cold lunches that don’t need to be reheated or kept warm.
LunchBots Bento Box
A great non-plastic option for toddlers and kids (and adults!) Super durable, affordable, 100% stainless steel. Dishwasher safe (not freezer or microwave safe). Available in multiple sizes and compartment options too. One tip – the lid isn’t completely airtight, so this is best for dry/non-liquidy foods (e.g. don’t pack applesauce or soup in this lunchbox!)
OmnieBox Bento Box
This is honestly my favorite kid and toddler lunchbox and is the one I use for my kids. It can be used to store both cold and hot food, because it has a thermos insert that fits inside the bento box. And if you don’t need the thermos insert, you can remove it and use the compartment for a sandwich or something else. It’s BPA free, super durable, and top rack dishwasher safe (it is not microwave or freezer safe). It’s a little more pricey but will last forever – and you really only need one per kid!
PlanetBox Bento Box
While these lunchboxes are pricey, they will literally last forever. They also have a ton of compartments which makes it easy to pack a bunch of options all at once.
Each Rover Set includes 1 Rover Lunch Box, 1 Big Dipper food container, 1 Little Dipper food container, Insulated Carrying Bag, and Magnet Set (so you get a lot for the price!) They are stainless steel, and free of PVC, phthalates or BPA materials.
- Hummus and Cucumber Sandwich: Lightly toast two slices of sprouted wheat bread, spread with hummus, top with sliced cucumbers. Serve with your child’s favorite fruit (e.g. mandarin orange slices), and veggie (e.g. steamed broccoli cut into small florets, dressed with olive oil and salt). Optional: a small piece of dark chocolate for dessert.
- Healthy Grilled Cheese: On sprouted wheat bread, with some chopped baby spinach or diced tomatoes mixed into the cheese. Serve with a fruit (e.g. apple slices), and a veggie (e.g. roasted sweet potato “fries” – which can be made in bulk advance and last for 4-5 days in the fridge!). If you eat meat, you can always throw a slice of turkey or ham into the grilled cheese for extra protein.
- Egg Salad or Chickpea Salad Sandwich on sprouted wheat bread, served with a favorite fruit and carrot sticks (or steamed carrots) with hummus for dipping on the side.
- Avocado “Toast” Sandwich: Spread mashed avocado or guacamole on two slices of sprouted or whole wheat bread, top with cojita cheese (or your child’s favorite shredded cheese) and tomatoes. Serve with a few tortilla chips + fresh fruit on the side.
Sandwich Lunch Ideas for Kids: Sweet Sandwiches
- Nut Butter and “Fresh Jam” Sandwiches! Toast two slices of sprouted wheat bread, spread with favorite nut butter (peanut butter and almond butter always work well) or sun butter, and top with thin slices of your child’s favorite fruit (instead of the jelly/jam) – e.g. sliced strawberries, apples, pears all work well. Serve with some fresh blueberries and steamed cauliflower cut into small florets, dressed with olive oil & salt on the side. Optional crunchy snack: 5-6 crackers or pretzels.
- Apple and Cheddar: Toast two slices of sprouted wheat bread, top with slices of mild cheddar cheese and apples. Can be served cold or grilled (like a “fancy” grilled cheese). Serve with steamed or sautéed veggies (broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes would all work well).
- Brie and Pear (with a drizzle of honey and crushed walnuts!): Toast two slices of sprouted wheat bread, top with brie or your child’s favorite mild cheese + thin pear slices. Drizzle 1 tsp honey and add 1 tsp crushed walnuts on top. Serve with steamed or roasted veggies (or a fresh salad) on the side.
Kids Lunches: Burritos and Wraps
- Bean & Cheese Burrito “Sushi”: Whole wheat tortilla spread with refried black beans, sprinkled with cheese, diced tomatoes, diced bell peppers, rolled and cut into “sushi” like slices. Served with cucumber sticks + hummus + apple slices on the side.
- Breakfast Burrito: Scrambled eggs with some diced bell peppers, tomatoes, and baby spinach mixed in (seasoned with salt + pepper as needed), wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla and topped with shredded cheese. Served with your child’s favorite fruit and crunchy snack on the side.
- Rainbow Wraps: Spread cream cheese on a whole wheat tortilla, top with thin slices of fresh veggies: red and yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced carrots, shredded baby spinach. Serve with your child’s favorite fruit with Greek yogurt for dipping!
Toddler Lunch Ideas: Bento Box Style Lunches
- Mezze Platter: Add hummus or roasted chickpeas, whole wheat pita, cherry or grape tomatoes, a couple of olives, sliced cucumbers, and mild cheddar cheese slices to a bento box and let your child mix and match!
- Fancy Cheese and Crackers: Whole grain crackers and your child’s favorite cheeses + cucumbers / carrot sticks / snap peas / olives + slices of apples and pears. Serve with 1 tablespoon of your child’s favorite nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts) and a couple dried apricots or cherries on the side.
- Protein Bento Box: Hardboiled eggs, a cheese stick, steamed veggies (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower) tossed with olive oil and salt, and crackers with nut butter for dipping on the side.