Healthy Lunch Ideas for a 3.5 Year Old

Updated on October 19, 2010
P.G. asks from Fort Worth, TX
4 answers

Hi Moms - I'm not a big lunch variety person myself, but I'd like to give my little guy an opportunity to try stuff. It's very easy to get caught in the "easy food trap" for kids, and I'm somewhat in one - you know, the mini-pizza, chicken nuggets (tyson, not mcdonalds), mac n cheese, etc. He eats a lot of fruits, veggies, yogurt, string cheese, but I want to spice it up. I just sent a menu request to his daycare so I can get ideas from that (he goes 3 days/week).

What are your suggestions re. healty, easy, reasonably priced lunch foods? He's somewhat picky (not too bad), but that's OK, I just want to expose him to stuff.

Thanks for your help.

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answers from Dallas on

I like easy too.. but I try for a little more variety without too much cooking time.

I use leftovers from previous nights that I have cooked -- soups, stews, etc.

Sandwiches and wraps-- deli sliced chicken breast is great (my kids love it), egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, peanut butter, grilled cheese. The nice thing about egg salad and such is that you can make it the night before and pull it out, throw on some bread when it's lunch time.

Burritos are also SUPER easy - can of refried beans heated up, add some grated Colby jack on a tortilla - yum! If you want some meat ground turkey with some taco seasoning browned in a pan makes a delicious taco/burrito meat.

Quesadillas also super easy -- I just put cheese between two tortillas and brown either side like a grilled cheese sandwich. You can add meat if you have something leftover from a dinner. Steak, pork, chicken.. anything works.

Salads are a big hit here... I buy the mixed salad bag. Add some left over grilled chicken or hard boiled eggs.

Yogurt, fruit salad/fresh fruit - (grapes, apples, bananas), string cheese, cut up cheese cubes, fresh veggies like peeled carrots, baby carrots, cucumber slices, celery sticks. You can offer dipping sauces or do something like peanut butter on the celery sticks, hummus with the cucumber, etc. I do these as sides with other suggestions.

I also use canned veggies and fruits - like asparagus, mandarin oranges, green beans as easy sides.

Frozen veggies steam in the microwave ALSO open up a ton of options.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Fruits, veggies and dips, cheeses, whole grains, peanut butter, hummus, yogurts, waffle, pancake, pasta, meatballs, salads, chicken (real chicken), homemade mac & cheese, turkey sliced down, ham and cheese.
The more you can stay away from the processed foods, the better.



answers from Spokane on

I let my girls make their own sandwiches and they LOVE it! They're 2 and 4. I give them the bread and a plate with some cheese, lunch meat, lettuce, tomatoe, cucumber, etc and let them at it. And they will both eat the WHOLE THING!

What about soup with goldfish crackers and cheese on the side? Fruit and veggies with dip? (fruit dip = yogurt) You could make a batch of mini burgers and freeze them individually; then just reheat one or two at a time as needed.



answers from San Diego on

I have a 7 month old, so I'm not there... yet. But, my sis-in-law bought the cookbook by Jessica Seinfield "Deceptively Delicious." Her recipes mixes in vegetables without altering the original taste of food that most toddlers love! I just picked up the cookbook at Kohl's for $5 and skimmed through it. Hopefully, it'll help you.

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