Tired of those same-old sandwiches? Want to offer your toddler something other than chicken nuggets? We totally get it, mom and dad. That’s why we put together this list of 15 parent-tested, toddler-approved lunch ideas.
Both easy to make and yummy to eat, these recipes are for portability – meaning those little chubby hands will easily be able to pick up their lunch, hold it and feed themselves, without cutlery or help.
BREAK OUT THE MUFFIN TRAY
(image courtesy of Betty Crocker)
- Baked mac and cheese bites. Cheesy, pasta-y goodness topped with a golden crust? Yes please! A childhood classic transformed into a crunchy and creamy finger food.
- Carrot zucchini muffins. Gluten- and dairy-free, this Meaningful Eats recipe is just sweet enough to entice little ones, and also happens to be packed with shredded veg.
- Chicken and carrot cups. Up their veggie and protein intake with this can’t-fail tasty winner from Inspiralized.
- Mexican muffins. Introduce your toddler to mildly spicy flavors like garlic and cumin, courtesy of Weelicious, one of our go-to blogs (and cookbooks) for healthy children’s food.
- Sunflower butter bran muffins. Fiber- and protein-packed muffins that are ideal for nut-free toddlers (plus, there are chocolate chips!).
Spinach and corn quesadilla (pictured). Chockablock with protein like spinach and cheese, Archana’s Kitchen’s quesadilla recommends using whole wheat tortillas and including a yogurt dip on the side.
Ham, egg and cheese quesadilla. Though this Damn Delicious recipe is meant for adults, with a few adjustments, it’s a great toddler lunch too. Simply omit the onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and you have a cheesy quesadilla that even manages to squeeze in some broccoli florets.
Apple, honey & cheese quesadilla. Also from Weelicious, you can make this quesadilla with either thinly sliced, peeled Granny Smith apples or good old applesauce.
Chicken, apple, spinach and cheddar quesadilla. Courtesy of cookbook, It All Begins with Food, by Leah Garrad-Cole, here’s a quesadilla that combines shredded chicken, chopped spinach and cheddar, and even suggests a sprinkling of hemp hearts.
Broccoli and cheese quesadilla. Food blog, The Peachee Pear, blends steamed broccoli, mozzarella and shredded carrots for a lunchtime treat that can also be cut up into smaller pieces for younger toddlers.
MAD ABOUT FRITTERS, RICE CAKES & MEATBALLS
Sweetcorn quinoa fritters (pictured). Healthy Little Foodies is a fantastic resource of recipes for babies, toddlers and big kids. This fritter is gluten-, nut- and dairy-free and vegetarian to boot. Perfectly freezable, it also keeps in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Tex Mex rice cakes. We can personally attest to how tasty these Weelicious rice cakes are… Our (very fussy) toddler loved them!
Hidden veggie meatballs. With carrot and zucchini mixed into a flavorsome pork and beef meatball, this could just as easily make it onto your family dinner table… It’s that good.
Chicken and apple balls. Another firm favorite with our kids, this super-easy recipe by Annabel Karmel adds Granny Smith apple to chicken for the sweetest, juiciest meatball. We made ours using ground chicken breast, and slightly flattened the meatball into a patty shape to avoid a potential choking hazard.
Rainbow fritters. Like the Tex Mex fritters, these rainbow fritters by Healthy Little Foodies pack in the veg. Blogger and mom, Amy, mixes up zucchini, carrot, red capiscum and corn with parmesan and chickpea flour for a delicious finger food that her son, Finn, adores. (We also love her popular pea fritter recipe!).
For more of the best toddler and kiddie lunchbox ideas, visit our popular Pinterest board, Kids’ Lunchboxes.