Skip to main content

6 healthy toddler lunch ideas

Finding healthy toddler lunches can often be compared to finding The Lost City of Atlantis. In other words, parents know better than to believe it if it’s too good to be true. Toddlers can be stubborn, fussy little mini-teenagers who love to strut their independence, all while rocking a diaper or pullup, and drinking from a sippy cup. Healthy lunches for toddlers can seem boring, or monotonous at times. If you are looking for ways to fit more healthy options into your little one’s diet or are simply looking for some fresh recipe ideas, then we have a list of tasty treats and savory morsels that your “threenager” will love.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Whole wheat yogurt waffles

For a lunch your toddler will happily eat up, serve these super healthy, whole wheat yogurt waffles. Not only do these food champs pack a tasty punch, but they are also soft and delicious while remaining blissfully freezer-friendly. Make ahead and freeze them for days when you’re short on time. Top with honey, fruit spreads, or peanut butter for a healthy step away from sugary syrups.

Turkey bacon and egg rollup

This “recipe” doesn’t require much effort from parents but gives toddlers a balanced and healthy lunch to keep the day moving in the right direction. Start by browning turkey bacon in a non-stick skillet. Drain it on a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe out your pan, add some butter, and crack in an egg. Add seasoning to taste. Gently break the yolk to cook the egg completely, about 3 minutes. Once the egg is set in the pan, flip it over and continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes. Grab a whole wheat tortilla shell, add the bacon, warm egg, and a sprinkling of your kiddo’s favorite shredded cheese, and roll it up into a burrito shape. Cut it in half and serve when cooled slightly.

Yogurt parfaits

These downright delicious snacks are welcomed at any time of day in most houses, so you could actually serve them for lunch or breakfast. Like the turkey bacon and egg roll-ups, yogurt parfaits don’t have much of a defined recipe, it simply requires your toddler’s favorite yogurt, a sprinkling of granola, and their favorite fruits. A few favorites of toddlers are bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and cherries.

Pizza quesadillas

Following the “no recipe” recipe theme, these easy-to-make, portable, and handheld lunch favorites are a staple a lot of homes. You’ll need sliced pepperoni (substitute ham, salami, or ground turkey if your little one isn’t a fan of pepperoni), shredded mozzarella cheese, tortilla shells, and a jar of pizza sauce for dipping, which is optional. To prepare the quesadillas, spray a non-stick skillet lightly with cooking spray and add one tortilla shell. Lay out your protein of choice, sprinkle on a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, and cover with the second tortilla shell. Cook for 2-5 minutes on medium low heat, flipping when the shell is toasted and brown. Cook on the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes and remove to a plate. Cut into 8ths and serve immediately with a side of pizza sauce to dip.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Broccoli and chicken alfredo

Broccoli, pasta, and alfredo come together to make something mouthwatering and fresh for your toddler – and the rest of the family as well! Not only is this dish delicious, but it’s also a classic favorite among kids of all ages. Additionally, this recipe is versatile and fast, making it ideal for busy weekday meals that need to be on the table in a short amount of time. Substitute proteins and veggies to make this dish truly your own!

Homemade chicken nuggets

To wrap up this list of toddler friendly, healthy meal and recipe suggestions is the number one staple in just about every home kitchen — chicken nuggets. These crispy and golden sections of chicken breast are lightly tossed in a dredge of milk and crunchy corn flakes to add maximum crispiness, without the added breading and grease. Forget the drive-thru lines, extra deep frying, and hefty price tag and swap out free-range chicken breasts and healthy corn flakes to elevate your toddler’s palate to new heights, without sacrificing their favorites.

When it comes to toddlers, the word “meal” is a more fluid term. Toddlers can often be unable to finish their food, or clear their plates, and that’s ok! Not every meal has to be gut-filling, or even require a ton of work to prepare. Simple fruits, veggies, and proteins are often the go-to lunches parents utilize. They’re great when you’re in a rush, meal-prepping for the week, or quickly throwing something together between work projects, homework, etc. Including your toddler into the prepared meal at the table will help them associate themselves with sitting down to eat together, deepening the connection of bonding and family.

Editors' Recommendations

Emily Pidgeon
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Emily's work has appeared in the Tube City Almanac, Tube City Online and our Affinity Sites. When she's not writing, she is…
How much water should a 1-year-old drink? What you need to know
Here's how to keep your little human hydrated
Toddler drinking glass of water

The transition from baby food to solid food is an exciting one for parents and their children. Once your child has fully transitioned to eating solid foods, they must also drink enough liquids to balance their diet. Milk is likely still a huge part of your child's daily diet, and they are most likely drinking it more than water. Although milk is important for toddlers to drink to help with the development of their bones and teeth, they must also drink water. If you're wondering how much water should a 1-year-old drink, here's what you need to know.
How much water your child should drink

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 1-year-olds should drink 1 to 4 cups (8 to 32 ounces) of water per day and 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) per day of whole milk.

Read more
The feeling words all parents should teach their little ones
Help kids learn how to verbally express their emotions
Building with words asking about feelings

Emotions can run the gamut with kids. A child can be happy and content one minute and then be a puddle of tears the next. Managing emotions becomes increasingly difficult as kids get older. Feelings of frustration often erupt seemingly out of nowhere. Many times, a teen doesn't understand why feelings of anger take hold much like a toddler having a tantrum in public.

As adults, we recognize that feelings are complicated, but understanding them is vital. Feelings are an abstract concept for children. Take the answer to some common parent questions like, "How are you feeling?" or "How was your day?" Kids will typically respond with fine or OK, even if their body language and demeanor are saying something else. Teaching your child how to verbally express their emotions through the use of feeling words forms a firm foundation for emotional well-being.

Read more
Why do toddlers hit themselves? The reasons may surprise you
Toddlers hitting themselves is on the list of strange behaviors a parent needs to know about
A little upset boy pulling at his hair

Kids often exhibit behavior that many parents can't understand. Toddlers especially know how to bring a bit of pizazz to the day. Their behavior can often be silly and spontaneous, but it can also be worrying. It's a jarring experience for any parent the first time their sweet baby reaches up and hits them. It's even more confusing for parents to see their toddler turn their anger inward and hit themself in the head or on their body. Why toddlers hit themselves can be something every parent struggles with.

Children who have never been physically disciplined may still hit themselves, scratch themselves, or pound their heads against walls or the floor when they're frustrated. Why do toddlers do this? Do they grow out of it? What do parents do to stop it? And when do you know whether you might need to seek professional guidance for your child? Let's dig into this part of toddlerdom most parents will have to deal with.
Why do toddlers hit themselves?

Read more