30 Easy And Healthy Toddler Lunch Ideas For Daycare

Cherlaine Tabo LittleThings writer by Cherlaine Tabo
Cherlaine is a freelance writer for LittleThings based in Canada.

One of the most dreaded things about bringing your child to daycare (other than the fact that you will miss them like crazy!) is having to prepare their lunches and snacks.

Yeah, you can just throw something together for yourself unworthy of any taste, health factors, or style, but when it comes to your toddler lunch ideas, you must get Michelin five-star-restaurant creative!

When I was growing up, bologna sandwiches were the norm. However, in today’s age of bento boxes and Yumbox, toddler lunch box ideas are more than just a popular choice. If you aren’t the avid homemaker or just get intimidated when you see those Pinterest-worthy masterpiece toddler lunches, never fear, we are right there with you!

Here at LittleThings, we have put together a good-sized roundup of healthy lunch ideas for toddlers and preschoolers that can be served cold without the hassle of having to be reheated during school. We have also taken the guesswork out for you with these amazing healthy toddler lunch recipes.

You can now stop stressing out over toddler lunches for picky eaters and focus more on being the Zen mom you’ve always wanted to be.

Thumbnail Sources: Flickr

Toddler Lunch Equipment Needed

1. Bento Box
Basically, “bento” is the Japanese word for a lunch box. Bentos are traditionally single-portion, prepared meals secured in boxed containers. The idea has moved to the West thanks to their compact and portable features. They can be stacked and come in various shapes and sizes, customizable to your appetite and what you plan to pack. I recently bought one from Ikea, but you can find bento boxes just about anywhere.

2. Yumbox
Leak-proof and durable, Yumbox lunch boxes have taken the market by storm due to their ability to keep wet foods like hummus and fruit purees at bay with tight seals that keep the contents in place. Each Yumbox comes with multiple compartments to keep your meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains separate until lunchtime. Check out their website for various styles and sizes.

3. Food Picks And Forks
To add a fun element to your toddler lunch box, consider fun little food picks and forks that you can use to quickly decorate any healthy toddler lunches. They come in so many designs, colors, and sizes that your choices are endless. You can find these anywhere online, such as Bento USA.

4. Sandwich Stamps
At online retailers like Little Bento World, you can find a huge selection of cute sandwich stamps that will help you decorate your toddler lunches for picky eaters. Healthy toddler lunches can be distracted by interesting shapes and designs, so that your picky eater will dive into their food with ease.

5. Cookie Cutter
If you don’t want to invest a fortune in sandwich stamps, you can use cookie cutters that you already have at home. Again, the designs are endless, making toddler lunch boxes a blast to open every day. You can also get creative and use cookie cutters on pitas, cheeses, fruits, and even puff pastries!

6. Silicone Baking Cups
Additionally, baking cups are something to consider to pack with a toddler who can break them, lose them, or downright misuse them. With silicone baking cups, you can quickly turn any lunch boxes into a Yumbox and create your own compartments. They are easy to wash, durable enough to hold any little snacks, waterproofed to keep crackers from getting soaked by your fruits, and most importantly for kids, they come in many cute colors to choose from.

7. Good Paring Knife
If you are a seasoned food decorator, a good and sharp paring knife goes a long way in creating those masterpiece bento boxes you see on Pinterest. From carving out grapes to slicing your sausages, paring knives will require occasional sharpening for upkeep and a safe place for storage.

Toddler Lunch Techniques

Yumbox and Bento boxes are typically very compact and small, which means that when it comes to toddler lunch ideas, you must get creative in how you pack your foods. Here are some basic techniques to keep in mind when choosing food and how you’ll package it.

1. Rolling Up Foods
Just like packing a suitcase, rolling up items will give you maximum space for your toddler lunch ideas without squishing the contents. Think of flat food items that you can roll up together to make little pinwheels, which you can package into your Yumbox or bento box.

2. Making Everything Neat And Tidy
You get a lot more room for packing your food when you line everything up neatly and orderly. If apple slices and carrot sticks are strewn across your toddler’s lunch box, this will give you minimal room for other items.

3. Cutting Them Into Shapes
It is always more fun when food is in different shapes for your toddler’s lunches. Their curiosity for the cute shapes and different sizes may entice them to pick up the food items and try them.

4. Make Them Tiny
Compacting your items is key, as you want to be able to fit as many varieties of foods as you can into your healthy toddler lunches. The small sizes also make it simple for your toddler to self-feed with finger foods and other easy toddler lunch ideas.

Toddler Lunch Ideas

1. Healthy Toddler Lunch With Lots Of Color

Colorful lunch idea for kids

This lunch is made up of a tuna salad by Raising Generation Nourished, some veggie rotini by Build Your Bite, peas, grapes, and a clementine.

2. Gluten-Free Lunch Idea With Hidden Tomatoes

Colorful lunch idea for kids

Two toddler lunch ideas: Have a small tomato slice cut in half, an egg for protein, some crackers, strawberries, and sultanas, along with some Orgran GF teddies as a treat. The other Yumbox toddler lunch box idea is for a low-gluten diet with carrots, strawberries, raisins, apple slices, and gluten-free crackers and pretzels.

3. Toddler Lunch For A Picky Eater

Colorful lunch idea for kids for picky eaters

This lunch box contains rice balls with thinly crushed seaweed, sesame seeds, soy sauce and sesame oil, hot dog slices, green beans, goldfish crackers and fruit.

4. OG Japanese Bento Box

Japanese Colorful lunch idea for kids

This is a traditional Japanese bento that holds strawberries, inari sushi by Just One Cookbook, and dashimaki tamago with green onions by RecipeTin Japan.

5. Bento Box Idea That Adults Will Like, Too

friendly lunch idea for kids

This is a ketchup omurice bento box by No Recipes with carrot slaw, broccoli, sausage slices, and tomatoes.

6. Quorn Burger And Chips

Quorn burger lunch idea for kids

Here’s a combination of sweet potato fries by Simply Recipes; a Quorn burger by Neil’s Healthy Meals on a heart-shaped, whole-grain bread “bun”; and star-shaped cucumber.

7. Easy Toddler Lunch They'll Love

Easy lunch idea for kids

A classic! PB&J sandwich in the shape of a bear, flower cheese strings, and grapes cut out like flowers.

8. Pizza-Loving-Toddler Lunch Idea

lunch idea for kids

Any toddler would love pizza pieces by Today’s Parents, tomato cubes, cheese cubes, and crackers.

9. Unique Toddler Lunch Idea For Daycare

lunch idea for kids

Consider turkey-sandwich skewers by The Almond Eater with lettuce, turkey slices, cheese and tomatoes, pretzel sticks, and watermelon wedges.

10. Super-Simple And Healthy Toddler Lunch Idea

lunch idea for kids

So easy to assemble: Monterey Jack cheese, oranges, cucumber slices, strawberries, and organic crackers.

11. Turkey Meatball Cold Lunch Idea

lunch idea for kids

You’ll need homemade, no-reheat turkey meatballs by Hilah Cooking, zucchini muffins by Super Healthy Kids, and a selection of cheese, fruits, and vegetables.

12. Southern Ham And Swiss Waffles

lunch idea for kids

So tasty! These are ham-and-cheese waffle sandwiches by Southern Bite, accompanied by strawberries and sliced cucumbers.

13. Toddler Lunch Work Of Art

lunch idea for kids

A lunch composed of homemade organic spinach tortillas with herbed turkey, Muenster cheese, and mayo as the leaves; pretzel sticks for the trunk; and basil for the grass. Caprese pesto salad with feta, star fruit, and chocolate coins round out the meal.

14. Homemade Uncrustables Yumbox

lunch idea for kids

Carrots and snap peas, popcorn, homemade Uncrustables by Mrs. Happy Homemaker, strawberries and half a cereal bar — now that’s the making of a great lunch!

15. "A Bit Of Everything" Toddler Lunch Box Idea

Bit of everything lunch idea for kids

Love the way she shows us what tools she used to make this toddler lunch box idea: Pretzels, popcorn, apple slices, heart-shaped sandwiches, tomatoes, cheese strings, and fruit squeeze.

16. Fun Bread Puzzle Lunch Box Idea For Toddlers

Bread puzzle lunch idea for kids

Here’s a gluten-free bread puzzle sandwich made with a puzzle-bread cutter from Amazon, plum, tomatoes, blueberries, and grapes.

17. Sushi Bento Box Idea

Sushi bento lunch idea for kids

The spotlight falls on tuna and avocado sushi by She Knows (with soy sauce), seaweed rice crackers with cheese, organic dried peach, blueberries, chocolate peanut butter zucchini muffin by Kudos Kitchen by Renee, and cucumber and red capsicum sticks.

18. Peanut-Free Yumbox

Peanut free lunch idea for kids

Avoid allergens with banana and sunbutter sushi by It has grape jelly for dipping, apple slices, and plums.

19. Healthy School Lunch Idea

Healthy school lunch idea for kids

Whip this up with a hard-boiled egg, raspberries filled with chocolate drops, a fruit bar, cashews, corn-off-the-cob, picks with black olives, leberkäse (a German sausage), and tortilla rollups with butter, Parmesan and hemp seeds. Add a squeeze drink made from a coconut milk and banana smoothie.

20. Beef-And-Carrot Sushi

lunch idea for kids

A lunch made with sushi (egg, three colorful carrots, marinated beef), strawberries, green and red apples, blueberries.

21. On Top Of Spaghetti, All Covered With Cheese

Spaghetti lunch idea for kids

This one’s a crowd pleaser: Pasta with tomato sauce, sausage, and broccoli; avocado with balsamic vinaigrette; coconut yogurt; and blueberries and pomegranate.

22. Homemade Lunchables For Toddlers

Homemade lunch idea for kids

Who wouldn’t love this? Whole-wheat crackers topped with Black Forest ham and sharp cheddar cheese, snap pea crisps, and a GoGo squeeZ peach, apple, and sweet potato sprinkled with organic black chia seeds.

23. Easy Hot Dog Roll Toddler Lunch

Hot dog roll-up lunch idea for kids

Everything about this sounds great: a hot dog rolled with cheese in bread by My Expat Mommy, a hard-boiled egg, an apple slice, and seedless grapes.

24. Plentiful Yumbox

Plentiful lunch idea for kids

Here’s the list: Greek yogurt with berries; a banana; spinach; a Philadelphia cream cheese pinwheel by Get in My Belly; red pesto, sweet potato, and cheese pinwheel by Jen’s Food; sausages; and mixed veggies.

25. Disguised Dessert Toddler Lunch

Disguised lunch idea for kids

Homemade cheese and Vegemite scroll by Stay At Home Mum, diced apple, rice cakes with peanut butter, blackberries and mini green cupcakes by Family Food on the Table. We could get behind this, no problem!

26. Puff Pastry Toddler Lunch Ideas

Puff pastry lunch idea for kids

Go for a homemade puff pastry filled with organic potatoes, carrots, peas and corn; some pan-grilled tofu hearts; steamed golden-yellow beets; and green-delicious apple slices.

27. Teriyaki Meatball Yumbox

Teriyaki meatball lunch idea for kids

This includes teriyaki meatballs by Buzzle, cheese and pickles, apple, carrots, pumpkin hummus, and homemade crepe and ham roll.

28. Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free Yumbox

Egg free soy free lunch idea for kids

Try some no-flour veggie frittatas by Plant Based on a Budget with broccoli, colorful bell peppers and carrots, potatoes, onions, olives, purple cauliflower with sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, and some cheese, strawberries, and apple slices.

29. Easy-Peasy Toddler Yumbox

Easy lunch idea for kids

It really can’t get easier than this: half a banana, a mozzarella quesadilla, blueberries and raspberries, sliced cucumbers, and tomatoes.

30. Chicken Salad Grain Bowl Lunch Idea

Chicken lunch idea for kids

We love how appetizing this sounds! It’s vinegar-and-soy sauce-marinated chicken, rice, a tossed salad of shredded cabbage, grated carrot, and grapefruit segments, pan-roasted brussels sprouts, and halved grape tomatoes.