Need Lunch Ideas for Toddler

Updated on September 21, 2008
R.J. asks from Ferndale, MI
19 answers

I have an 18 month old. The days he goes to day care I pack a lunch. I usually make pasta or mac n cheese but I am looking for some variety and I just need ideas. He is too small for sandwiches, as he just likes taking them apart and putting them back together, never eating them! He is a great eater, likes almost everything we've given him. I don't want his day care to think I am a lazy mom that can only make mac n cheese!!! I always adda fruit to go with but still feel stuck in a rut! Thanks for any advice.

3 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?

You guy are awesome, thanks for all the ideas! I will definately try the sandwich sealer thing and many of the other suggestions.

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answers from Saginaw on

My 22 month old loves soup. Sometimes he drinks the broth through a straw but generally we strain the meat, veggies out and he just eats those. They also have the little microwaveable tubs that have chicken noodle o rings, lasagna, ravioli, chicken & rice, etc. I prefer to give him the soup though and he absolutely loves it.



answers from Saginaw on

Have you tried cheese cubed into very small peices, fruit, also cubed very small or animal crackers? I will try to find more ideas for you too!

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answers from Detroit on

My 22month old likes peanut butter balls, yoplait custard style yogurt(thick, non-messy, and 180 calories!), fruit bar, cheese sticks, crackers...if they can microwave stuff then instant oatmeal if not for breakfast, frozen burritos, spaghettios, pizza bagels.

Here is a bulk size recipe for peanut butter balls...3cups creamy peanut butter, 2 cups honey, 6 cups oatmeal, 3 cups dry milk, 1/3 cup flax seed. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then together. Form into balls, freeze to keep for a long time. Remove from freezer at least 10 minutes before eating or nuke for 10 seconds or so. Play with the ingredients to make it as dry/wet as you like or add or change ingredients to fit what you like or what you have...raisins, finely crushed nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, wheat germ, cranberries, whatever. Usually I stick with the basic recipe and sometimes roll the ball in cinnamon sugar or baking chocolate powder. Yumm. That recipe makes about 50 golf ball sized balls. Half it or 1/3 it to make less. Obviously make sure there is no peanut allergy to worry about, and make sure its okay to send peanut products to day care. Its messy to make, but oddly clean to eat if you make it slightly dry. My kids live on it...and I like two and an apple as lunch myself!

Good luck!

M.-mom of 4 girls, age 22mo-6.5 yrs, married 12 years.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

When my daughter was a toddler she was a very picky eater. Her favorite food to eat was oatmeal with real apples and cinnamon on top. It really quick and simple and very filing for them. I sliced up an apple or a half of an apple put it in a small amount of water adding some cinnamon boiled it just until the were tender enough for her and added it to the top of the oatmeal. She loved it and still does even though she 6 now.



answers from Toledo on

What I cut lunch meat in different shapes...or roll them up! Or make the sandwiches "his" size.

It's simple but works well.




answers from Detroit on

Shockingly, my son likes green beans out of the can. If the daycare doesn't mind microwaving stuff, you might want to try this.

Have you tried the fruit cups? They sell in plastic 4-packs.

What about yogurt?

Hey, I live in Ferndale too, with a 20-month old son. Maybe they should play sometime :)



answers from Detroit on

When I had to sent lunch with my todder I would make sure to pack lots of cut up fruit, cut up veggies (my son loves tomatoes and cucumbers), yogurt, chesse cubes and crakers instead of a sandwhichs are good or some left overs from the night before. Kids are hard to please sometimes-- so as long you are packing something healthy that he will eat, don't worry about what the day car workers think:)



answers from Toledo on

Try, thay have all kinds of ideas for lunches and you can get all kinds of other cool ideas.



answers from Detroit on

when my daughter was a toddler, we would make her sandwiches, but then cut them up into tiny squares. That way it's more like a finger-food and not easy to just take apart and put back together. Even if the pieces fall apart, he will probably eat most of it. Maybe you could try that. :)



answers from Daytona Beach on

How about some of the Gerber graduates? My daughter loves them! They have cheese ravioli, soups, and several other varieties. There is also a Del Monte brand too that is cheaper and my daughter seems to like them just the same. She also loves Spaghetti O's, have you thougt about packing a dish of that? How about cheese and crackers.



answers from Detroit on

leftovers from dinner from the night before are always a great lunch the next day, does your daycare warm up stuff, if so this is a winner for my 18 month old. K.



answers from Detroit on

Here is a list of some of the things I feed my 19 mo old for lunch:

Chicken Nuggets
Sandwiches with out bread ( i just cut up the meat, cheese and give her crackers to go with)
S'getti Noodles with a little olive oil
Fish Sticks
Mac & Cheese

I also give her a side of a veggie. She likes canned that works great.

She also loves the Gerber toddler meals. They are like a Tv dinner for toddlers. I have found them cheapest at Target.



answers from Detroit on

I packed those Gerber Graduate meals - the pasta pick ups and various potatoes and ham, etc... my daughter loved them at room temperature, which was easy for the daycare. I also got lunchables - ham/cheese and turkey/cheese - she liked those and they were easy to eat. I would always pack fruit cups or applesauce or a banana to go along with it. She's not a big veggie eater unless it's dinner time, so cut up veggies didn't work for us. Hope that gives you some more ideas.



answers from Jackson on

Hi. My son isn't quite as old as your child but he totally skipped the baby food stage and went right to table food. He eats most of what we eat and I make enough at dinner for left overs for lunch. I reccomend slowcooker or crockpot meals. Not only are they easy and use minimal dishes, it makes food soft and easy to cut up. Also, there are 1000's of different nutritious meals to choose from.


answers from Kalamazoo on

I agree that leftover dinner makes for a great lunch. Also try making you own version of lunchables and such. Try to stay away from the prepacked stuff, it's too expensive and full of preservatives and/or extra sodium. Look for a lunch tupperware that has a few divided compartments and fill in with different little things. Scrambled sandwiches( chunks of whole wheat bread, cheese cubes, sandwich meat, tomatoes) anything like that he normally eats. The mac & cheese and canned ravioli is really borderline junk food.



answers from Detroit on

I agree with most moms that leftovers are great. I always make extra for that reason. Fruit cups and bananas are good. My 16 mos. old loves nutrigrain bars and lean pockets as well.



answers from Grand Rapids on

Hi R. -

Here are some lunchtime suggestions:

* meatballs (I either make mine or get them from D&W deli)

* pasta ruffles - with ground turkey, peas, tomato sauce

* sandwiches - get a sandwich cutter. It seals the bread, cuts off the crust, and divides the sandwich into 4 pieces. My 16m old loves sandwiches this way (got mine from One Step Ahead

* chicken nuggets - I use amish chicken breast, beat them kinda thin, dip in egg, use either shake and bake or bread crumbs and bake them. It's healthier than buying frozen.

* chicken-noodle casserole (like tuna-noodle, but I don't like tuna, so I use chicken) - I add confetti vegetables (peas corn carrots), cream of something soup (chicken, broccoli, etc.) and the egg noodles or elbow macaroni. It's a hit.

* broccoli and rice casserole. Or broccoli and pasta twirls casserole (broccoli, rice/pasta, chicken bits, cheese)

* acorn squash or sweet potato casserole (squash/potato, chicken bits, peas)

I think that's about my entire lunchtime arsenal. As you see I'm big on sneaking the veggies into the meal. I use the Glad storage containers, 8oz size. After I make his lunchies, I store them in the Glad containers and stick them in the freezer. In the morning it's wham, bam, thank you ma'am getting his lunch assembled. I typically send him with a Yo Baby yogurt, mandarine oranges or apple sauce, his frozen dish and a drink.





answers from Detroit on

It sure would be easier if your provider fed the children. I am a provider and do feed them meals and snacks. I find it is much easier for me and the families.

It would be tough to try and come up with meals for your child everyday in a bag. Will they warm up things? You could send nuggets, cut up hotdogs,Sandwiches. Even just cut up cheese and meats, add a veggie like canned peas, carrots, green beans, corn. Then a fruit. You want to cover all the food groups.

You also can buy Meijers brand french toast sticks. They have them in a bag in the frozen food section, apple cinnimon, blueberry, Original. Yogurt is good to with cheese crackers or granola. I feed my kids Mini ravioli, colored rotini noodles and sauce or just butter. Boxes fettutine(sp) with chicken.Pancakes, eggs with toast.

I hope this helps if you need more ideas I will be happy to help out.



answers from Detroit on

How about cheese and crackers with fruit-that's healthy and most kids love crackers. You can even buy cheese in different shapes or you can cut them yourself. Or you could make turkey roll-ups with lunchmeat and cheese, my kids always liked that and I was happy cause they were getting protein. I think every kid goes thru the food rut thing but they eventually grow out of it just keep offering different things and it may take a few times but he will start to upgrade his menu. Best of luck.

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