Twenty Lunch Ideas for your Littles
It is so easy to get stuck into a rut when it comes to feeding kids. We need easy, we want healthy, but we also know they may only eat one or two bites on any given day. This can create a mixed bag of emotions. Anything from stress, worry, concern, or maybe frustration. I get it. Even though I am a dietitian and understand the daily fluctuations and that I can trust my son to eat when he is hungry and stop when he’s full. It doesn’t stop those thoughts or feelings from coming!
With that said, I want to help answer a question I see on so many Facebook groups, “What are some ideas for lunch for my ___ month old!?” While it is helpful to offer a variety, it is also important not to create so much stress for yourself over it. There’s an easier way to offer variety, and keep meals simple and balanced. Offering a variety does not have to mean a completely different meal every single day. It can mean different sides, fruits, or a repeat meal all week that you change over the weekend.
Just remember, if a toddler does not like what you serve on day one, you might find they love it on day two, and then they throw it on the floor by day three. Hence where the feeling of frustration can come from. Hopefully the rest of this post can give you enough ideas to help plan out the next few weeks or months worth of lunches for your littles.
Diced ham, frozen steamed peas, and canned peaches in 100% juice
Homemade meatballs (try these!), pasta, and tomato sauce with no salt added (but try throwing in some oregano and basil!)
Toast, peanut butter, and halved blueberries
Scrambled eggs, cheese, and cooked carrots
Ground turkey, bell peppers, canned diced tomatoes (not salt added) or quartered cherry tomatoes
Red lentil noodles, pesto, and roasted or boiled sweet potatoes
Canned black beans (halved or slightly smashed, preferably in no salt added, drained and rinsed), mandarin oranges, and shredded mozzarella
Hard boiled eggs, yogurt, and diced kiwi
Shredded pork, green beans (canned is fine I like using french beans, low sodium, drained and rinsed), and whole wheat crackers
Strawberries, shredded cheddar cheese, and shrimp
Banana pancakes, peanut butter, and whole milk Greek yogurt
Baked tofu, cauliflower and pineapple
Spaghetti squash, tomato sauce mixed with pureed pumpkin, and ground beef
Sautéed chicken, bell peppers, and avocado chunks
Mac and cheese (I like Annie’s brand), raspberries, and sweet peas
Toasted bagel, cream cheese, and quartered grapes
Shredded zucchini, peaches and pork tenderloin
Chicken sausage, pears (canned in 100% juice is fine, drain and rinse), and roasted asparagus
Whole wheat crackers, hummus, and unsweetened applesauce
Salmon (can do fresh, frozen or canned), noodles (whole wheat, lentil or chickpea), and sautéed or boiled celery
As you may have noticed, I listed three food groups for every meal. I try to always include a combination of three different food groups: fruit, vegetable, grain, protein, and dairy/fat. Sometimes his meals include four or five different foods but I always aim for three. If you want to add more to any of those combos, below will be a list of more ideas! Also, we pack his diaper bag with an extra pouch and plain cheerios or other snacks as needed throughout the day too. This helps provide him balance, options, and we are lucky to have our parents watching him so if his meals aren’t going great they often have different backups to try.
Optional add ins
(if you’re at three food groups you can always add more to start or try any of these below!)
Hemp hearts (1 tsp), flax meal (1 tsp – no need to do a full tsp of both of those daily), spices, sauces, olive or avocado oil, butter, nut butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, shrimp, tilapia, the list is endless! Just take things one day at a time. Continue to offer different options and repeat foods too. If you find some lunch meals that work for you, write them down to help you when you’re meal planning. Or start keeping some staple canned and frozen items on hand that you can use to put a toddlers meal together.
If you need more personalized assistance, ask your pediatrician to refer you to a dietitian. We’re trained to help! 🙂 Don’t forget to let me know if you try any of these meals and how your toddler likes them! It is seriously the highest compliment when you share how any of my suggestions or recipes goes with your family. Either comment below or come hang out in my community on Instagram and share there!