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Toddler Lunch Ideas

  • Jon Whittle

    Honey, Almond Butter & Banana
    Spread 2 slices of whole-wheat bread with almond butter or peanut butter. Top 1 bread slice with a drizzle of honey (for kids 1 and up) and a layer of banana slices. Cover with the other slice, butter side down.

  • Jon Whittle

    Pear & Avocado
    Mash 1/2 ripe avocado in a bowl. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the avocado evenly on 2 slices of sourdough bread. Add a layer of thinly sliced Bosc or Asian pear to 1 bread slice. Cover with the other slice and press gently to adhere. Swap in pomegranate seeds for the pear, if you like.

  • Jon Whittle

    Apple, Cheddar & Peanut Butter
    Split a focaccia square in half crosswise. Spread the cut side of 1 half with peanut butter. Top with a layer of cheddar-cheese slices and then a layer of thin apple slices. Cover with the other half, cut side down and press gently.

  • Jon Whittle

    Strawberry & Goat Cheese
    Split an English muffin and lightly toast the halves. Spread each half with softened goat cheese or plain whipped cream cheese. Top with a thin layer of strawberry jam, followed by a layer of thin strawberry slices. Place the top half of the muffin over the bottom half, and press gently.

  • Jon Whittle

    Slice It Right
    If it seems like that sandwich you packed in the morning makes a soggy return uneaten in the afternoon, swap in Pepperidge Farm Goldfish—shaped bread. It'll remind him of a familiar snack and get him to eat up. $3 to $4; grocery stores.  Try our Healthy Lunch Maker Tool for more more kid-friendly ideas.

  • Here are some healthy lunch ideas that kids will love.

  • Laura Hinely

    Leave a Message
    Whoever said you can't package hugs and kisses? Surprise your little scholar by tucking a love note into her lunch box so she knows you're thinking about her even though you're far away. And you'll know that every day at 12:30 p.m., she's reading your note and thinking of you, too!

    Love this lunch box? Find more kid-inspired packs here.

  • Laura Hinely

    Cut It Out
    Turn the ordinary lunch-box staple into a menagerie of animals with these sandwich cutters. Check out Munchkin's elephant cutter, above ($3; Walmart stores).

  • Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Turkey Pinwheels
    Serves 1
    Spread dollop of store-bought hummus on whole-wheat tortilla, then layer a slice of turkey and some spinach leaves. Roll up and cut.

    Serve with:
    Cheese cubes
    Fruit salad

    Pack it up: Svenja Lunch Box, $34, beatrixny.com; Small Round Containers, $16 for two, kidskonserve.com; Light My Fire Spork Little, $7 for three, amazon.com; Teacher's Pet Picnic Pouch, $7, oonae.com; White Traveler water bottle, $25, mysigg.com

  • Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Egg Salad Sandwich
    Serves 1 to 2
    Mix two crushed hard-boiled eggs, ½ tsp mustard, 1 tsp mayo (or plain yogurt) and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on whole-wheat or multigrain bread.

    Serve with:
    Oranges
    Pretzel sticks

    Pack it up: Maxi Storage Box in Blue, $36, mysigg.com; Sigg Cuddle Monsters water bottle, $20, mysigg.com; Light My Fire Spork Little, $7 for three, amazon.com; Jam Session Picnic Pouch, $7, oonae.com; Snack Disk, $6, oxo.com; large and small bowl set, $10, oxo.com

  • Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Vegetable Pasta
    Serves 4
    Mix 6 oz cooked tricolor rotini pasta, ½ Tbsp melted butter, ½ cup cooked peas, 2/3 cup quartered cherry tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.

    Serve with:
    Carrots
    Applesauce

    Pack it up: Frog Zoo Lunchies, $13, skiphop.com; Large Round Containers, $19 for two, and thermos, $21, kidskonserve.com; Love, Not Waste hand Towel, $7, peopletowels.com; Beverage Bottle With Solid Cap, Spring Green 9 oz, $13, lifefactory.com; Light My Fire Spork little, $7 for three, amazon.com

  • Photo by Brian Kelly (CC Licensed)

    Pita-Butter and Jelly
    If your child's main food staple is PB&J, but peanut butter is a no-no at her school, here's a peanut-free option. Substitute butter or cream cheese in for peanut butter and spread on whole-wheat pita bread. Top with jelly, or if she loves apple pie, try cinnamony apple butter.

    Serve with:
    Hard-boiled egg (If you child hates the yolk, serve two servings of egg whites instead.)
    Squeezable yogurt tube
    Sliced grapes & sliced grape tomatoes

  • I Heart Turkey
    A plain ol' turkey sandwich gets a little love with this Thanksgiving-inspired, heart-shaped version. (Kid not a heart-lover? Stars or dinosaur shapes work, too.) Spread a thin layer of cranberry sauce on two pieces of whole wheat bread. Layer two slices of roasted turkey breast and sliced cheese. Use a cookie cutter to cut the sandwich into the shape of a heart.

    Serve with:
    Baby carrots with ranch dressing dip
    Squeezable applesauce tube

  • Photo by Angus Fraser (CC Licensed)

    Build-Your-Own Sandwich
    Let your little chef test his culinary skills by packing the ingredients to a sandwich á la Lunchables. Assembling his own meal right at the lunch table may inspire him to eat it as well. Slice lunch meat and cheese into small squares. Serve with whole-grain crackers and individual packets of mayonnaise or mustard.

    Serve with:
    Pear or apple slices (squeeze a bit of lemon juice on them to prevent browning)
    Store-bought cinnamon pita chips

  • Photo by Jennifer (jspatchwork) (CC Licensed)

    Mini Pizzas
    This kid-favorite gets a healthy makeover to fuel your child's busy body all day long. Make these the night before to save time in the morning. Top English muffin halves with jarred marinara sauce (if your child won't object, add chopped steamed broccoli or spinach to the sauce.) Sprinkle pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Let cool, then wrap up.

    Serve with:
    One half cup of blueberries
    Individual chocolate pudding

  • Photo by yoppy on Flickr (CC Licensed)

    Brunch for Lunch
    Who says French toast and eggs are just for breakfast? This traditional morning meal makes a power-packed lunch. Feel free to make these the night before. French toast cinnamon sticks: Add pureed squash or sweet potatoes to egg-milk batter for an extra boost of beta-carotene. Cook French toast and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Let cool and slice into sticks for an easy-to-eat fork-free option.

    Serve with:
    Hard-boiled egg (If you child hates the yolk, serve two servings of egg whites instead.)
    1/2-cup fruit salad

  • Veer

    Go Fish!
    An under-the-sea adventure right in your child's very own lunchbox: Tuna fish sandwich shaped like a fish. Cut a corner off of the bread and reverse it, placing the point at the middle of the cut line. Use a round slice of baby carrot for the eye.)

    Serve with:
    Baby carrots (Write "Fish Food" on the plastic bag)
    Blue-raspberry "water"—an individual Jell-O container
    Mini goldfish-shaped cheese crackers

  • Photo by Peter Lindberg (CC Licensed)

    Fruit Roll-Up

    While your child would no doubt enjoy diving into a meal of sticky sweet fruit leather, this guilt-free version offers nutrients and energy to keep her going for the second half of the school day.

    Spread blueberry or strawberry-flavored cream cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla wrap. Top with fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries and roll tortilla.

    Serve with:
    Small container of hummus
    Celery sticks and sliced cucumbers for dipping
    A real fruit roll-up for dessert

  • Kid-friendly Chicken Salad
    Sliced grapes and cubed apples add sweetness to plain old chicken salad. If your child eats nuts, add crushed cashews for extra crunch. Serve in a small container with whole wheat crackers or flatbreads.

    Serve with:
    String cheese
    Cook-free S'Mores: Spread Marshmallow Fluff on one graham cracker square, nutella on the other and press together and enjoy!

  • Photo by Jessica (WordRidden) (CC Licensed)

    Rainbow Wheel
    A colorful, super-healthy lunch choice. Spread white bean dip on a whole-wheat or spinach tortilla wrap. Layer with lettuce, sliced tomato, cheese, thinly sliced cucumber (or pickle if your child is a fan), avocado and other favorite vegetables. Roll up the tortilla. Then slice into 4 1-inch cross-sections to make the wheels.

    Serve with:
    Banana
    Chocolate milk

  • Photo by John (star5112) (CC Licensed)

    Cube Food
    Kids love finger foods—why not serve up a whole meal of uniform, easy-to-eat cubes? Serve with a toothpick if your little one doesn't want to use his hands.

    Cubed rotisserie chicken
    Cubed cheddar cheese
    Cubed sweet potato (microwave the whole potato for 8 minutes, let cool, then cut.)

    Serve with:
    Cubed cantaloupe
    Cubed brownie bites

  • The Lunch Box by Weldon Owen Publishing

    Ham and veggie pinwheels
    Pinwheels aren't just cute toys. Try these tasty sandwich alternatives.

  • Brian Hagiwara

    Don't forget the snacks!
    It's always a good idea to toss some after-school snacks in their lunchbox, too. Stock your pantry with these delicious and nutritious munchies, sure to keep them happy until dinner.

    Brain Snacks for Kids
    These yummy, healthy treats make great back-to-school snacks

    7 No-Mess Snacks
    These neat eats are yummy, healthy and easy to clean up

    7 Delish Snack Mixes
    Salty pretzels, cheesy crackers, protein-packed nuts, sweet raisins and more—all mixed up for some yummy snack packs

    6 Naturally Sweet Treats
    Your kids will love these dessert-like snacks—just don't tell them how healthy they are!

    7 Snacks that Teach
    Kids can learn about numbers, letters, colors and even bugs with these yummy treats

    8 Fruity Snacks Kids Love
    They see: cookies, gummies and chips. Yum! You see: fiber, vitamins and calcium. Score!

    7 Healthy Kid-Friendly Dips
    Kids will have fun getting their fruits and veggies with these yummy sauces and spreads

    7 Snacks That Won't Spoil Dinner
    Stave off "when's dinner?!" whining with these nutritious treats

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