Healthy Toddler Lunch Ideas For Daycare

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Healthy toddler lunch ideas are the perfect way to fuel your child for the day. They will be ready to play and work hard at daycare. Plus, it will make you feel great knowing that you’re giving your little one a healthy lunch! They won’t turn their nose up at these healthy lunch ideas.

Have you ever given your 1-2 year old toddler lunch ideas for day care? If not, then you’ve come to the right place.

Healthy Toddler Lunch Ideas For Daycare

15 TODDLER LUNCH IDEAS FOR DAYCARE (NO REHEATING REQUIRED)

Try these healthy toddler lunch ideas when your little one needs a meal for preschool, daycare, or the sitter. They’re toddler meals that are easy to pack and that don’t need to be reheated to make things super easy for you.

6 toddler daycare lunches in grid

EASY TODDLER LUNCH IDEAS

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.

TIP: Mix and match as you like for your little one, refer to my Master List of Healthy Snack Ideas for help rounding out meals, and you can include fresh veggies and fruit that your toddler usually likes as simple sides.

pack-ahead-lunches-for-toddler

HOW TO PACK EASY TODDLER LUNCHES STEP-BY-STEP

Here are a few reminders to keep these in mind when assembling your child’s food for the day. (Lunches and snacks above shown in Easy Lunchboxes.)

  1. Try not to send something that your kiddo has never had before. Try new foods at home so you know how your child likes them and whether they have any difficulty chewing them.
  2. Try to make lunch a mix of foods that are yummy, healthy, easy to chew, and familiar.
  3. Check any allergy guidelines at your center or school to help keep everyone healthy.
  4. Remember that you may or may not be able to send nuts.
  5. Ask for specific feedback on how your child ate so you know what they are liking (and not liking…) so you know if you need to send more or less food.
  6. Don’t worry too much if their appetite varies from one day to the next. This is totally normal!
  7. Add water and milk as needed and as preferred to these toddler lunch ideas.
  8. Always cut and serve specific foods in sizes that your toddler can handle.
  9. Round out meals easily with the best finger foods for toddlers.
  10. Don’t stress if the kiddo eats more or less or differently at daycare than they do at home. Different environments have different outcomes.

15 TODDLER LUNCH IDEAS

Here are some of my go-to lunch ideas for toddlers. Adjust the serving sizes and what you pack alongside to both offer nutritional variety and to account for whether your child needs their snacks packed too.

hummus lunch with dippers in pink box
TODDLER LUNCHBOX IDEA #1: HUMMUS SANDWICH

Spread hummus between slices of soft bread and cut into squares or small cubes, or place into a container and serve with whole grain crackers or sliced soft veggies like cucumbers or steamed carrots. We like Carrot Hummus and Creamy (Nut-Free) Hummus.

PRESCHOOL LUNCH IDEA #2: 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. (You can pack it in a thermos—we LOVE this thermos—or cube it so it’s easy to eat chilled. These pizza rolls are soft on the inside, so they’re not too chewy even if chilled or at room temp. And change it up with pesto pizza rolls another week!

hard-cooked-egg-lunch
TODDLER LUNCH IDEA #3: 
EGG SNACK BOX 

Slice or cube hard-boiled eggs and serve along side whole grain pita wedges, leftover waffles, or crackers. I like to add some fruit and a simple fun food like fruit leather, a few pieces of a favorite dried fruit, or your kiddo’s favorite snack. (P.S. Some toddlers take a while to learn to like the texture of hard cooked yolks and that’s okay—just send the whites for now.)

TODDLER LUNCHBOX IDEA #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. We really like pureed mild salsa stirred together with plain whole milk yogurt as a yummy dipping sauce for this sort of a meal.

pesto pasta salad lunch container
PRESCHOOL LUNCH IDEA #5: PESTO PASTA SALAD

Either using store-bought or homemade pesto (like this Spinach Pesto), toss with pasta, halved cherry tomatoes, diced cheese or chicken, and an easy veggie. Pair with fruit to and a fun food to round out the meal.

TODDLER LUNCH IDEA #6: EGG AND CHEESE MINI MUFFINS

These easy to make egg muffins are good at room temperature or heated (and they work well to make-ahead). I love them since they have a veggie tucked right inside! Include whole grain crackers or pita bread, some fruit, and perhaps some beans or simple veggies along side.

carrot muffin lunch box for toddler
KIDS LUNCHBOX IDEA #7: VEGGIE MUFFINS

These Sweet Spinach Banana Muffins, Carrot Cake Muffins, Savory Veggie Muffins, or Flourless Cocoa Muffins with protein and hidden veggies are a perfect lunch option. They’re a balanced meal all on their own and are easy to enhance with a side of yogurt or a cheese stick, a piece of fruit, and maybe a little cubed chicken, turkey, or ham.

EASY LUNCH IDEA #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.

toddler-muffin-lunch
KIDS LUNCH IDEA #9: HAM AND CHEESE BOX

Pair diced ham with shredded cheese and a whole grain bread or muffin as a sort of toddler-friendly sandwich. Add simple produce options such as thinly sliced cucumber and clementine to round it out. (You can use a different lunch meat or shredded cooked chicken or turkey if you prefer.)

TODDLER LUNCHBOX IDEA #10: 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 like fruit and yogurt to round things out.

 Easy And Healthy Toddler Lunch Ideas For Daycare

1. Healthy Toddler Lunch With Lots Of Color

This lunch is made up of a tuna salad by Raising Generation Nourished, some veggie rotini by Build Your Bite, peas, grapes, and a clementine.

Gluten Free Toddler Lunch

Gluten Free Toddler Lunch

2. Gluten-Free Lunch Idea With Hidden Tomatoes

Two toddler lunch ideas: Have a small tomato slice cut in half, an egg for protein, some crackers, strawberries, and sultanas, along with some Orgran GF teddies as a treat. The other Yumbox toddler lunch box idea is for a low-gluten diet with carrots, strawberries, raisins, apple slices, and gluten-free crackers and pretzels

Picky Eater Toddler Lunch

Picky Eater Toddler Lunch

3. Toddler Lunch For A Picky Eater

This lunch box contains rice balls with thinly crushed seaweed, sesame seeds, soy sauce and sesame oil, hot dog slices, green beans, goldfish crackers and fruit.

Japanese Toddler Lunch

Japanese Toddler Lunch

4. OG Japanese Bento Box

This is a traditional Japanese bento that holds strawberries, inari sushi by Just One Cookbook, and dashimaki tamago with green onions by RecipeTin Japan.

Bento Box Toddler Lunch

Bento Box Toddler Lunch

5. Bento Box Idea That Adults Will Like, Too

This is a ketchup omurice bento box by No Recipes with carrot slaw, broccoli, sausage slices, and tomatoes.

Quorn Burger Toddler Lunch

Quorn Burger Toddler Lunch

6. Quorn Burger And Chips

Here’s a combination of sweet potato fries by Simply Recipes; a Quorn burger by Neil’s Healthy Meals on a heart-shaped, whole-grain bread “bun”; and star-shaped cucumber

Easy Toddler Lunch

7. Easy Toddler Lunch They’ll Love

A classic! PB&J sandwich in the shape of a bear, flower cheese strings, and grapes cut out like flowers.

Pizza Toddler Lunch Idea

Pizza Toddler Lunch Idea

8. Pizza-Loving-Toddler Lunch Idea

Any toddler would love pizza pieces by Today’s Parents, tomato cubes, cheese cubes, and crackers.

Unique Toddler Lunch

Unique Toddler Lunch

9. Unique Toddler Lunch Idea For Daycare

Consider turkey-sandwich skewers by The Almond Eater with lettuce, turkey slices, cheese and tomatoes, pretzel sticks, and watermelon wedges.

Simple Toddler Lunch

Simple Toddler Lunch

10. Super-Simple And Healthy Toddler Lunch Idea

So easy to assemble: Monterey Jack cheese, oranges, cucumber slices, strawberries, and organic crackers.

Healthy Daycare Meal Ideas for Toddlers

1. Sandwiches

These are probably the easiest thing to pack and for toddlers to eat! Just make sure the filling is something that won’t fall out, cause then the mess might discourage him from eating any further. A paneer sandwich or sandwiches stuffed with chutney are good picks, as are simple egg or cheese sandwiches. Cut them into triangles or rectangles for easier handling.

2. Boiled Eggs

Boiled eggs are another easy lunchbox option and are perfect to add to a light vegetable sandwich for some good quality protein. Make sure the egg is completely hard boiled and not runny at all. Some kids don’t like the yolks, so consider your toddler’s preferences when packing it. Slice the egg to make it easier for your child to eat by himself.

3. Pasta

Most kids love pasta, especially when they’re in fun squiggly shapes! You can choose from macaroni, fusili, penne or the various other shapes. You can either pack it as a dry pasta salad, or pour in some sauce, depending upon your child’s taste. For younger toddlers, a drier pasta might be easier to handle and of course, less messier! You can sneak in meat or veggies in the pasta, so you don’t have to send anything else with it.

4. Paratha

This Indian staple is ideal for the lunchbox for many reasons. It’s pretty easy to make and customizable – you can stuff with potato, cauliflower, paneer or even egg. They can be made thin and rolled up, or made thick and cut up into pieces. All you need is some simple chutney or curd to go with it too. You can also experiment with different grains besides wheat to ensure maximum nutrients get in.

5. Rolls

Another alternative to sandwiches, simple wheat rotis or corn tortillas can be rolled up with a variety of stuffings. Just make sure that the stuffing is secure and doesn’t fall out the other end. You can prevent this by sealing one end with aluminium foil, so your toddler can take it off once he’s eaten the rest. Another toddler friendly tip – make the roll, and then cut it up into pieces for sushi bites – easy peasy!

6. Vegetable Sticks with Hummus

If you’re sending a sandwich or roll with protein as stuffing, you need some veggies to balance the meal. Vegetable sticks with hummus as a dip is perfect, and you can use vegetables of your child’s liking. For younger toddlers, it might help to steam the veggies first, so they’re easier to eat. You can try carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, cucumber, celery and many more!

7. Chicken Nuggets

Is there any kid out there who doesn’t like chicken nuggets? Of course, we don’t recommend the store bought ones, but the homemade ones are easy enough to make! These go great with a rice dish or a vegetable paratha, adding the required amount of protein. If you’d like a vegetarian version, try Soya cutlets or paneer tikka instead.

8. Mixed Rice

If your toddler is comfortable enough handling a spoon without too much trouble, then a rice dish is perfect for the lunchbox. You can try all kinds of dishes like ghee rice, coconut rice or egg rice. And if it’s a mixed dish like a Soya chunks and vegetable rice, you don’t have to pack anything else!

9. Savory Pancakes

Pancakes are an evergreen favorite at daycare centers and with good reason! They’re mess free, nutritious and super easy for little hands to manage. You can try all kinds of dosas – Sathumaavu, jowar, ragi, multigrain or sweet potato. You can also try pancakes made of oats, barnyard millet or maize flour.

10. Creative Leftovers

If you’re really running out of ideas for your toddler’s lunchbox, then don’t worry – some creativity will solve your troubles! Use leftover rotis to make roti noodles, or mini idlis to make a masala idli stir fry. And of course, leftover rice is perfect for a quick fried rice or tawa pulao. Just add veggies, egg or chicken and you’re done!

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