Simple Real Food Toddler Lunch Ideas

Packing a lunchbox can really pull on those creativity strings. Especially when you have to make 5 a week. And that’s just for one kid. My sister has 4 kids at school – that is 20 lunchboxes a week. Argh! I will share some inspiration today with simple toddler lunch ideas. They might work for bigger kids too – I just know that they work for my little one.

Try these toddler lunch ideas for your little one. You can pop them in a lunchbox or eat them at home. I share my best toddler lunch ideas.

My toddler goes to childcare 5 days a week and we need to supply his lunch. The childcare prepares morning and afternoon tea (often vegetable sticks, rice crackers, etc). I also know that my little one isn’t one to sit down for a big serve of something hot for lunch. He’s a nibbler, a muncher and likes variety. That’s why I chose a bento style lunchbox for him when he started childcare last year. We have a Yumbox lunch box – which you can look at here. Alternatively, my favourite online healthcare shop, Shop Naturally, has a wonderful variety of bento style lunchboxes here.

The Yumbox is extra helpful because each of the bento style compartments are labelled with a food group: vegetables, protein, grains, dairy, fruit. Some may find this really obvious – but I actually like the gentle reminder.

Quick Tip: Pack the Lunchbox the Night Before

Honestly – this is the BEST tip for getting out the door in the morning. We pack our lunchboxes either during dinner – or just after, as we clean up. We then pop them in the fridge. That way, in the morning, we simply grab them and go. Easy.

That being said, even if we are at home – I still serve lunch in his lunchbox, or just on plate. Consistency is a big hit with my little one, so keeping to the lunchbox sometimes works well. Occasionally I miz it up a bit for a surprise. We might have a picnic on the floor, or eat on the couch. Whatever way you choose, I hope these toddler lunch ideas help you fill your little one’s plate.

To share my ideas, I’ll group them in categories too – and you can take your pick for what you’d like to include in your next lunchbox.

Toddler Lunch Ideas: Vegetables

  • Carrot, celery, cucumber sticks
  • Capsicum slices
  • Snow Peas
  • Leftover roasted vegetables
  • Mashed pumpkin, sweet potato or potato
  • Frozen Peas (they defrost, but they are yum!)
  • Corn (frozen or tinned – although check the ingredients for any hidden nasties)

Toddler Lunch Ideas: Protein

  • Hummus (homemade is easy, or if you buy it – check those ingredients!)
  • Bean Dip (there are lots of recipes for a good bean dip, like this one)
  • Leftover Meat (sausages, roast lamb or beef)
  • Chili Con Carne
  • Chicken Breast (easiest way to cook them? check this out)
  • Grilled Haloumi
  • Sunflower Seed Butter (make your own – it is simple. A great alternative to peanut butter for school days).

Toddler Lunch Ideas: Grains

  • A simple sandwich (do try and avoid white bread though – try something hearty like a rye or a sourdough)
  • A wrap with banana, or Vegemite, or Sunflower Seed butter, or grated cheese and carrot (check the ingredients on the wraps though. I am going to give these wraps a try soon).
  • Pasta salad (this can be as simple as leftover pasta from dinner, tossed with some olive oil and lemon juice and some
  • Brown rice (cooked in broth for a little extra flavour) or with a teensy bit of tamari or soy sauce added
  • Quinoa mixed with salsa (less mess this way as it all sticks together)

Toddler Lunch Ideas: Dairy

  • Cheese – be creative though. Slice up some block cheese into triangles, use a small cookie cutter to make shapes, or buy some pre-packed little cheese bites (check those ingredients!)
  • Yoghurt with sultanas or granola or blueberries. Yoghurt can be a notorious sugar source – so make sure to choose one that does not contain added sugar. Ideally opt for a full-fat greek style and you should be fine.
  • If you are going dairy free – you could try something here like a good nut or seed butter, some cashew cheese or other plant based alternative.

Toddler Lunch Ideas: Fruit

  • Small Fruit – like blueberries, grapes (cut in half), blackberries, raspberries
  • Chopped Pieces – apple, pear, peach, nectarine. You can squeeze some lemon juice on the apple to stop it going brown
  • Whole Fruit – a small apple, a mandarin – will all be a good size for a toddler
  • Melon – always a hit in my house. Watermelon, rockmelon, honeydew. Or a little mix of everything. Again, try and be creative – use one of those old-fashioned melon ballers to cut out spheres of the fruit.


How are those toddler lunch ideas? What will you write on your shopping list this week? Tell me in the comments below – I’d love to hear what you’ll choose.

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