It’s hard to come up with healthy toddler school lunch ideas that are both happy and healthy Toddlers are really busy people these days. Between school, playtime, and homework. However it doesn’t have to be challenging if a parent is creative and has a few lunchbox hacks up their sleeve. School is starting and you want to give your toddler the healthiest lunch possible. Making homemade meals with whole foods can be hard, but there are lots of options. Don’t worry, I’ve rounded up the best easy healthy kids school lunch ideas for you along with a few do’s and don’ts so you have all the tools needed to succeed! Every mom faces the same task – packing school lunches for their growing toddlers. Not only is this a challenging job, but adding a dash of creativity can prove to be time consuming and complicate the process.
Healthy Toddler School Lunch Ideas
Parents of little toddlers and preschoolers who are dutifully packing lunches for daycare and school, you are awesome. I know how exhausted you are by those little ones right now, but I’m here to remind you that in just a few short years, you’ll be sending those same kids off to first grade with lunches they packed themselves. I know this firsthand, because I just sent my oldest off with a lunch she learned to pack watching me throughout these past few years.
Toddler and preschool lunches are often the most arduous to pack; most things need to be small and soft, which means you’re either spending a lot of time chopping or even more time steaming. That’s why I compiled 10 of my favorite preschool and toddler lunch ideas that are both easy and healthy, and will help you pack lunches more quickly until those kiddos can pack their own.
We’re pretty obsessed with this simple-yet-sturdy bento-style lunch box from LunchBots. We prefer this large size with five distinct compartments, but LunchBots also offers other sizes and configurations like this Small Protein Packer. We also love their tiny Condiment Cups for dressings and dips.
Super-Easy, Healthy Lunch Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers
Toddlers and preschoolers can eat almost everything their bigger siblings can, but keep in mind that their portions and pieces should be smaller. The below are examples of things I’d comfortably send with my 4-year-old to preschool, but you will need to cut things like eggs or chicken nuggets into smaller pieces for 2- and 3-year-olds who are still practicing feeding themselves.
1. Ham, Cheese, And Peas
It’s hard for me to think of a more classic lunch box combo. Pack tiny cubes of ham and cheese alongside peas — the perfect trifecta for a toddler mastering the “pincher” eating technique. Supplement it with a fruit pouch and your favorite crackers.
What to pack: Cubed cheese, cubed ham, diced pear, frozen peas
What to buy: Go Go Squeeze and Bitsy’s Brainfood Sweet Potato Cinna-Graham Crackers
2. Soft Soba Noodle Salad
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to pasta for your preschooler, soba noodles are for you! Their tender texture and nutty flavor make them ideal for lunch boxes. Tofu is a great protein option if your kiddos is struggling with the texture of chicken or ground beef.
What to pack: Cubed uncooked firm tofu, soba noodles, watermelon cubes, chopped snap peas
What to buy: Happy Tots Love My Veggies Pouch and Kix cereal + raisins
Whether they are leftovers from dinner or you opt for store-bought, pre-cooked meatballs are wonderful for little eaters. Packed with protein and vegetables, they will keep your toddler full until after naptime.
What to pack: Quartered meatballs (store-bought or homemade), mandarin orange slices, blanched broccoli
What to buy: Veggie Go-Go Strawberry Beet Bites, applesauce cup
4. Breakfast For Lunch
My oldest, now in first grade, was so obsessed with breakfast for dinner that we piggy-backed that idea straight into lunch. We like yogurt bites for little eaters because they are easier to eat than a tube or carton.
What to pack: Hard-boiled egg, mixed berries, cubed cucumber
What to buy: Yogurt bites/melts, applesauce cup
5. Open-Faced Waffle Sandwich
Another breakfast-for-lunch option: cream cheese or yogurt spread onto a frozen or homemade waffle. Cut this into smaller pieces for your toddler.
What to pack: Plain cream cheese spread onto a frozen waffle, diced kiwi, diced avocado
What to buy: My SuperFoods Maple Vanilla Granola bar, Happy Tot Chickpea Straws
6. Frittata Muffins
Frittata muffins freeze well, and are a filling lunch option for kids and adults alike. You can even pack them straight from frozen, and they’ll easily thaw by lunch.
What to pack: Frittata cups, fresh blueberries, quartered cherry tomatoes
What to buy: Cheerios + dried strawberries, diced pears in juices
7. Chicken Nuggets
We all know at least one nugget-obsessed kid. Find your favorite brand and keep them on hand for the days when you really don’t know what to pack. Make sure to cut the nuggets into smaller pieces for your 2- or 3-year-old.
What to pack: Quartered red and green grapes, diced avocado
What to buy: Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies, applesauce cup
8. Cream Cheese And Strawberry Sammie
If your kids attend a nut-free school, cream cheese is an awesome alternative to peanut butter. We love ours paired with jam or fresh fruit on whole-wheat bread.
What to pack: Cream cheese and sliced strawberries on whole-wheat bread, steamed edamame, shredded carrots
What to buy: Diced string cheese, Happy Tot Oat Bars
9. Taco Tuesday Lunch Box
Quesadillas are a nice way to mix up the routine of your sandwich-loving preschooler. You can tuck the black beans into the tortilla, or serve them mixed with the frozen corn. Yup, that’s right — pop the frozen kernels into the lunch box and they’ll be thawed by lunchtime.
What to pack: Black bean and cheese quesadilla, diced mango, frozen corn
What to buy: Happy Baby Puffs, dried cherries
10. Hummus Sandwich
My 4-year-old would eat hummus straight from the tub with a spoon, but a whole-wheat English muffin is a tidier alternative. Again, you’ll want to chop this into small pieces for little fingers.
What to pack: Hummus on whole-wheat english muffin, diced cantaloupe, blanched frozen mixed vegetables
11. Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches
Let’s start with the basics: a good turkey and cheese sandwich! This is always a win and go-to for a healthy and easy toddler lunch idea. Pair it with sliced cucumbers and clementines for a yummy meal!
12. Avocado Egg Salad
Make this avocado egg salad in the morning and have it both for yourself and your toddler at lunch. Paired with whole wheat toast and fruit, this makes for a delicious and wholesome toddler meal. No reheating required!
13. Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes
These higher-protein Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes are a great way to add nutrition to your toddler’s lunch. Pair them with a hard boiled egg (or scrambled eggs) for a lunch they won’t resist!
14. Instant Pot Chicken Fried Rice
As long as it’s kept cold, this recipe doesn’t have to be reheated and little ones tend to LOVE it! Adjust the recipe to your toddler’s taste buds and pair with fresh fruit for a make-ahead lunch recipe and toddler lunch idea that everyone in the family will love.
15. Spanish Rice & Beans
You can’t go wrong with rice and beans! Add a whole wheat tortilla (cut into pieces, if necessary) and plain yogurt for an easy, quick toddler lunch.
16. Healthy Chicken Broccoli Pasta Casserole
While this meal is great warmed up, it can also be served cold in your little one’s lunchbox! Make this chicken broccoli pasta casserole the night before and pair it with fresh fruit and veggies.
17. Shredded Barbecue Chicken
Anyone else’s toddler REALLY obsessed with “dipping” sauce? Shredded chicken, a healthy barbecue sauce or a yogurt based ranch dressing, sliced peaches, and sweet potato “fries” (aka roasted sweet potatoes cut into a french fry shape) make for a next level toddler lunch they can be proud of!
18. Easy Protein Waffles Recipe
Your little one will feel like they’re getting a treat for lunch while still getting loads of nutrition! Pair these protein waffles with scrambled eggs and berries for a delicious breakfast for lunch.
19. Creamy Salmon Pasta
This creamy salmon pasta is dairy-free and delicious! Pair this main dish with hummus and soft veggies for an easy toddler lunchbox idea.
20. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
You really can’t ever go wrong with a classic grilled cheese paired with fresh fruit and hummus! So easy and a toddler fave.
21. Greek Yogurt Pancakes
The best pancakes made with plain, high-protein greek yogurt! Pair with scrambled eggs and banana or berries for an easy toddler lunch idea that they’ll love. You can even add extra yogurt on top!
22. Margherita Pita Bread Pizzas
What toddler doesn’t love pizza? These pizzas are incredibly easy to make and perfect for a little one’s lunch box. Pair with hummus and steamed carrots for a yummy toddler meal idea!
23. Turkey And Cheese Wrap
This turkey and cheese wrap is so easy to make! Simply roll it all together in a whole wheat tortilla and cut into slices. You can also add a little hummus to it to help it bind and give it a creamy texture! Serve this wrap with hummus, blueberries, and any veggies you’d like for a healthy toddler lunch idea.
24. Tofu Scramble Vegan Breakfast Bowl
Does your little one have an egg allergy? Try making a tofu scramble instead! Pair the scrambled tofu with roasted or steamed sweet potatoes, cooked quinoa, and fresh avocado (or packaged guacamole to help it last in a daycare lunchbox).
25. Turkey Noodle Soup (Slow Cooker)
This is actually one of my toddler’s FAVORITE lunches! Make this turkey noodle soup ahead of time and then remove the solid pieces from the broth to add to your little one’s lunch box. Pair it with whole wheat crackers and apple slices for a wholesome, simple meal.
26. Egg & Cheese Muffins
If your toddler isn’t a fan of eggs, try “hiding” them in egg and cheese muffins! Pair these muffins with whole wheat toast and berries for a yummy toddler lunchbox idea they will love.
27. Turkey Meatballs
Meatballs are a classic for toddler lunches! These turkey meatballs are wholesome, easy to make, and so tasty. Pair them with a marinara dipping sauce, whole wheat toast, peas, carrots, and even mashed potatoes!
28. Peanut Butter + Jelly
Potentially the most loved lunch by toddlers: PB&J! Make this classic toddler friendly by topping whole wheat toast with creamy peanut butter and sliced fruit. Serve with eggs or hummus and steamed carrots for a delicious toddler lunch idea!
29. Spinach & Cheese Quesadillas
These spinach and cheese quesadillas made with whole wheat tortillas are perfect for your little one! Pair these with cooked beans and homemade guacamole (or packaged guacamole) for a deliciously brilliant toddler lunch idea.
30. Veggie Meatballs
Need to sneak some veggies into your little one’s diet? These vegan meatballs are perfect for making ahead and adding to your toddler’s lunchbox! Pair them with mashed potatoes and green beans for a wholesome, hearty meal.
31. Toddler-Friendly Falafel
Make this falafel recipe ahead of time and serve it with hummus, steamed carrots, cucumbers and pita bread in your toddler’s lunchbox!
32. Protein Overnight Oats
Needing to mix it up? Serve your toddler breakfast for lunch! Add protein with these overnight oats and pair them with yogurt and fruit. These overnight oats are a unique and easy toddler lunch idea for daycare!
33. Healthy Breakfast Tacos
Make these deconstructed breakfast tacos for your toddler’s lunchbox for a meal they all absolutely love!
34. Chicken & Veggies
Keep it simple with cooked, cubed chicken, peas and carrots, hummus, and whole wheat toast. Sometimes simplicity is best!
35. Toddler Muffins
Pair these deliciously healthy toddler muffins with scrambled eggs and soft, roasted potatoes for a toddler lunchbox idea that will become a new favorite!
36. Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
Mac & Cheese is another toddler lunchbox classic that’s brilliant as a toddler lunch idea! This version is made with butternut squash, which is a great way to sneak in the veggie. This recipe can be paired with shredded chicken and green beans!
37. Toddler Charcuterie
Whole wheat crackers + cheese slices + deli turkey. This toddler classic is perfect for taking to daycare! Pair it with berries and a cookie for a meal they will absolutely LOVE!
38. Spinach Chickpea Bites
Don’t have time to make a lunch? Serve your little one the best of the best with these Spinach Chickpea Bites which can delivered right to your doorstep!
39. Easy Turkey Rice Casserole
This easy make-ahead meal is one the entire family will love! Add it to your toddler’s lunch along with steamed carrots and peas for a yummy, fall-inspired meal.
40. Zucchini Patties
Serve these zucchini patties with hummus and steamed carrots for one of the best healthy toddler lunch ideas!
41. Healthy Shredded Chicken Tacos
Tacos are one of my toddler’s favorite meals! Omit the sriracha in this recipe for a toddler-friendly lunch idea. Pair with a whole wheat tortilla and beans or guacamole!
Tips For Toddler Lunches At Daycare
- Use an insulated lunchbox with cooler packs to keep food cold.
- Pack toddler lunches in a bento box to keep foods separate, if necessary.
- Add in a puree or applesauce packet in case your little one is still hungry!
- Be sure to talk to your little one’s teachers about any allergies or preferences when it comes to mealtimes.
Toddler lunches and mealtimes can be a ton of work and an exhausting thing to plan. But remember: fed is best, and that goes for toddlers as well as babies! You’re doing your best to nourish your little one, and that’s what matters the most. Great job mama – you’ve got this!