Posted by: littlebitofparadise | April 2, 2014

Toddler Lunch Ideas (for when Mom is stuck in a rut)



I’ve really been feeling like we’re stuck in a rut with our lunch menus lately. My toddlers are ages 3 and 2, and I feel like I’ve fallen into (or back into?) the trap of just making for lunch what I know they like and I know they’ll gobble up…which is only a few different lunch menus, usually.

My pediatrician keeps warning me that if I only give my kids grilled cheese and PB&J for lunch at this age, that’s all they’ll eat for lunch when they’re nine. And fourteen. So I’d really like to do a better job of giving them a wide variety of foods for lunch. And doing my best to make it fun, too.

Spring is the perfect time of year to make my boys’ lunches fun because we can eat on our porch or outside for backyard picnics – and my boys LOVE eating outside. It makes them feel like they’re on a special adventure.

I put my plea for creative toddler lunch ideas out on social media at lunch time today, and within minutes I had some truly creative, fun ideas from lots of others moms. I’m excited to try these new ideas in my home, and figured maybe some of my blog mama friends were also feeling stuck in a lunch rut…so I’ll share some of those ideas below.

My toddlers’ five favorite lunches are listed below. Unfortunately these are the ideas we’ve been sticking with a little too closely, so I’m hoping to try your ideas and get away from ours for a little while. But maybe some of these are new to you and would be fun new menus at your house. (Note – my kids are about 80% gluten free so you’ll notice the GF influence in these menus). 

1. Grandma’s Pancakes. I shared the recipe a while back here, but this is my toddler’s favorite meal, for any meal. I love making it because they gobble up huge stacks of these pancakes, which are packed with eggs, cottage cheese, and coconut oil. I usually serve these with a side of kefir and fruit for dessert.

2. Trader Joe’s Gluten Free (frozen) Waffles, toasted and smothered in peanut butter or almond butter and cut into toddler bite sizes. Served with cheese cubes and fruit.

3. Grilled cheese on Ezekiel (sprouted) bread.

4. Annie’s Gluten Free Mac and Cheese, served with a side of peas and fruit. (BTW, the cheapest place I usually find this gluten free mac is at Target when it’s on sale and I can also use my 5% off RedCard deal).

5. Smoothies. I make my kids and myself a green smoothie almost every single day, since it’s one of the only ways I can convince them to eat green leafy veggies. The problem is they are getting sick of my recipe, so I either need to change up the recipe or give smoothies a break for a bit. They’re just too boring to my kids at the moment and it’s becoming a fight to get them to drink ’em up.

So those are our five favorites. Starting tomorrow we’re going to branch out and try some of YOUR ideas. Here are the ones posted on my Facebook page today, and if you could share your toddlers’ favorite lunches with me here or on Facebook, I’ll love you forevah. Hopefully so will my toddlers. ;0)

And now for the good stuff: YOUR Toddler’s favorite lunches: 

  • If your little one can eat carrots raw I would cut them in small pieces that were easy to chew. Or, I would cook them and then chill them. They would be softer to chew.
  • Any sandwich use small cookie cutters do I would get three or four heart shapes out of it. Sliced banana or strawberries, sliced. I would arrange all the foods to make shapes or faces. Cinnamon toast. Oatmeal and mix up toppings for it. I would set out a few different fruits and/or nuts and let them make their own oatmeal bowl.
  • Hard boiled eggs seem to be a fav lately. Takes some time to boil then cool but you can cook a few and put in frig.
  • To actually answer your question…chips! LOL!!! But since they can’t always have those, the above are a couple ideas.
  • My two will only eat PB&J or grilled cheese, but I try to add yogurt/applesauce pouches/veggie straws/smoothies for added healthiness. I invested in a 100 piece cookie cutter set from Wilton and make new shapes everyday. They seem to eat better when it’s cute. Good luck….
  • Bananas slice in half lengthwise, spread peanut butter on top, sprinkle with raisins and drizzle with honey. Or you could toast bread, spread PB on top and use bananas and berries to make a bear face.
  • Mine love smoothies(I hide lots of stuff in those) also has lots of awesome kid friendly recipes. We do lots of fruits (fresh and dehydrated), veggies like avocados are easy to hide in homemade pudding, we make those energy bits and granola bars. Also homemade mini muffins and mini donuts- we make big batches and freeze so we have them on hand. They also have some good paleo recipes for both.
  • Hummus, pita chips, grape tomatoes, olives, canned wild caught sardines and herring (trader joes), avacado, edamame, Lima beans, blue or feta cheese. Yes, my kids like strong flavors. A lot of times they beg for the stinky fish in the A.M. Lol.
  • Can single girls with no kids pitch in?  Stephanie, allow me to change your world and introduce you to the amazingness that is bento. I love love love finding reasons to make these for people! This blog in particular centers around making them for kids:
  • Carrots and hummus work any day, one kid likes only jelly sandwiches and one only likes PB. smoothies are good too
  • Chicken nuggets with sweet potato fries and my kids r into mashed potatoes and gravy now. Weird
  • I also notice when we use kid chop sticks or funky flatware they eat better too
  • Throw a blanket on the ground anywhere and call it a picnic
  • A mix between pb sandwich cucumbers carrots prunes raisins nuts
  • Mine like “snack plates”…cheese, crackers, lunchmeat on toothpicks (or chicken cubes), samples of fruits, etc…think samples at Costco.
  • Omelets stuffed with lots of veggies and cheese? A hearty soup? My boys like especially like cream of broccoli/potato and chili.
  • Rice & beans, pb&j, cheese slices, mac n’ cheese, and any kind of thick stew are favorites around our house right now.
  • My kids love quesadillas…just a tortilla with cheese and some apple slices or half a banana. Peanut butter sometimes is a hit and other times not so much. My kids also really like boiled egg whites!
  • Stephanie, I’ve been wanting to ask you for ideas! I’m in a rut. The boys don’t like veggies right now. I’ve tried so many ways of cooking them. And they are allergic to milk so they can’t do cheeses and all well unless it’s goats milk.
  • Sometimes, throwing a blanket in the yard and calling it a picnic makes a difference, and takes the focus from whatever is offered for the outside-fun-of-a-lunch. Avocados with a spoon work here sometimes!
  • Shredded taco chicken (I make a bunch and freeze) with avocado and tomatoes, soups, we do lots of left-over lunches, grilled chicken with veggies, sweet potatoes…

Have a great lunch!

xo, Steph


Linking up with Moxie Wife for Five Favorites



  1. Used to love toasted bagel with cottage cheese. Basically I ate anything if my mom told me a story. They were like choose your own adventures and I had to take (whatever number of bites) to find out what happened next. I remember her asking my brother and me things like and what did rachel see when she opened the door…so I got to help write the story. I remember loving lunchtime even though I was the pickiest of eaters!

  2. It is sooo Lunchtime Rut Central around here right now—wow, I was feeling so guilty about just continually serving what I know my kids will eat, and now I can take comfort in the fact that I am not alone! Thank you! The new ideas are great! Sometimes when I’m just overwhelmed, I serve protein bars with fruit and milk…

    YoBaby can be an awesome meal, (especially for 2 year olds who may be growing in more teeth and it hurts to chew…) it is whole milk yogurt that comes in many tasty flavors. They usually have it in the organic section of regular grocery stores. Whole Foods also carries other brands of yummy whole milk yogurts. If the child won’t eat any grains, I sprinkle wheat germ on the YoBaby and mix it in. I usually serve the yogurt meal with some kind of fruit– fresh or dried or store bought puree…God bless all of us mamas and help us to feed our babies!!!

  3. Great ideas! Would you mind sharing your green smoothie recipe? I am new to smoothie making and could use a good recipe!


    Find a copy of “Feed Me, I’m Yours” by Vicki Lansky. It’s the classic cookbook for small children.

  5. Yipes! Sorry, didn’t mean to create a graphic. I just wanted to give you the link. But at least now you can see the cute cover! 😉

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