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Lunch Ideas for Kids, Toddlers

Parents all over the world are unanimous in their efforts to create lunch ideas for kids that are healthy and appealing at the same time. Bland and boring is going to get you nowhere as far as lunch ideas for kids are concerned. However, coming up with lunch ideas for kids everyday for the week is no easy task for the working or busy parent. What you need are quick and fun lunch ideas for kids that will keep them happy and provide them with a nutritious fare at the same time. Growing kids need carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to fulfill their energy needs.
They also need essential vitamins and minerals to boost their immune system and support mental and physical growth. With health and nutrition at stake, parents will have to think out of the ‘lunch box’ to come up with kid’s lunch ideas. Moreover, since there are as many food and taste preferences as there are kids in the world, the lunch recipes and combinations are endless. Here are a few lunch ideas for kids to get you started.

Sack Lunch Ideas for Kids

Mornings in a household with school going kids are chaotic at best. However, make time for a healthy breakfast before you send your child out to school. A wholesome breakfast ensures that your child is alert and focused until lunchtime. For lunch, here’s what you can do in terms of packed lunch ideas:
  • Include your children when planning packed lunch idea for kids. Get to know their favorite foods and find creative ways to sneak them in into their lunchbox.
  • Invest in a fun lunch tote that your kid will love to carry his/her lunch in. Ensure that you can pack in hot and cold foods separately. Also, make sure it has space for bottled juices, smoothies, or even a bottle of water.
  • Young children prefer to eat small portions at a time. So instead of packing a large sandwich, include creative lunch ideas for kids such as peeled baby carrots with their favorite dip, small tortilla wraps filled with meat or veggie fillings, fun-shaped appetizers, and sandwiches cut into their favorite shapes or sizes.
  • Healthy school lunch ideas include hot or cold soups, stews, and salads. Pay special attention to school lunch ideas for kids and how you pack them. Small children tend to lose interest in their lunch box if they are unwieldy, heavy, or require multiple tools to eat food. Pack peeled fruits cut into small pieces, include a spoon when you provide soup or pasta, and use a tight lid when you pack any liquids. Include a tissue or small towel that they can use at the end of the meal.
  • Healthy, homemade snacks are the best supplement to healthy lunch ideas for kids. Create your own trail mix with nuts and dried fruits. Treat your kids with some chocolate chips added to it. Multi grain crackers, unsalted pretzels and low fat flavored yogurt are also healthy options.
  • Smart shopping and planning for a whole week worth of healthy school lunch ideas can help you save time and produce some great lunch box ideas that your kid will love.

Cold Lunch Ideas for Kids

You could also try a few cold lunch ideas for kids. These refrigerated treats ensure that your child does not have to worry about hot food gone cold or scalding liquids. Cold soups such as cucumber soup or creamy butternut squash soup can quickly become your kid’s favorite foods with its fresh and creamy texture. Leftover dinners such as a salad can do double duty as cold pesto pasta salad the next day. Add chicken or turkey meat to make it more wholesome and filling. Cold tuna wraps, chicken salad sandwiches on crusty bread, mini lasagnas, and even cold tacos or nachos are great lunch ideas for kids. You may also pack frozen yogurt cans, which will thaw by lunchtime.


Vegetarian Lunch Ideas for Kids

As parents, we all know how tough it is to feed your kids healthy greens. It is best to introduce them to a variety of healthy foods at a young age so that they develop a palate for it. That said, if your kid is squeamish about vegetables, it is okay to sneak them into his/her lunch in creative ways. One way to enthuse love of vegetables is to provide a variety in different colors. The more attractive and colorful the recipe, the more kids are bound to eat their veggies. Keep in mind that buying fresh produce, especially in winter, may be difficult, so stock up on frozen veggies such as corn, sugar snap peas, broccoli, and even bags of mixed veggies. Use them in your kids’ favorite dishes such as pasta, cheese and macaroni with an extra helping of broccoli, ravioli stuffed with vegetables, and even wonton wrappers filled with veggie goodness. Use fresh fruit in place of desserts. Another trick to ensure that your child eats greens is to include it in unexpected places. Kids love berry smoothies and they will never suspect the broccoli, spinach or other soft vegetables you mix along with fruits such as raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Another tip for vegetarian lunch ideas for kids includes pureeing vegetables before adding them to soups, stews, or even pasta sauces. A spinach-tomato pesto pasta or carrot and pumpkin puree soup makes a filling vegetarian lunch for kids.

Gluten free Lunch Ideas for Kids

It is hard to come up with gluten free lunch ideas for kids. You have to leave out any wheat or flour-based products, which include bread, pasta, lasagna, and even desserts such as cakes and cookies. However, explaining to your child the nature of their allergies will make it easier to trade-in gluten free products in the place of original fare. Keep the school officials and teachers informed of your child’s gluten-free diet. Gluten free products such as breads and bagels are now available in organic or specialty stores. Gluten free pizza dough topped with your child’s favorite toppings or burritos made from corn (wheat free) tortillas are easy lunch ideas for kids. Mixed fruit bowls, thinly sliced veggies with dips such as herbed cream cheese, salsa or hummus, snack cheese and gluten free crackers with a smidge of peanut butter can make healthy gluten free lunch and snack ideas for kids.

Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

You have to pay special attention to portion sizes when it comes to lunch ideas for toddlers. Most toddlers need small servings of food every two to three hours. If you toddler is in a daycare center, ensure that you provide separate bottles of water, milk and diluted juice. Toddler lunch ideas need to be easy to chew and digest. Grilled brown bread sandwiches with peanut butter and marmalade are a hot favorite with most toddlers. Pita wraps, sliced fruits, string cheese, corn chowder are all good lunch ideas for toddlers. If you are travelling with a toddler, you can pack in pre-cooked chicken or tofu nuggets, cheesy quesadillas or cheese melts, veggie sticks with dip, small containers of flavored yogurt, or store bought lunchables for toddlers.

Submitted on January 16, 2014