50 Toddler Lunch Ideas Even the Pickiest Eaters Will Love

·8-min read

In an ideal world, your toddler’s lunch would look something like this: A fruit, a veggie, some protein, a healthy complex carb and source of fat. In reality, it’s more like whatever they’ll consume without crying because the seedless watermelon has seeds, the hot dog is staring at them and the peanut butter and jelly isn’t cut diagonally. No worries, friend: Here are 50 toddler lunch ideas they’ll actually enjoy (fun riffs on hot dogs and PB&J included).

RELATED: Here’s What 7 Real Toddlers Ate in a Day

1. Peanut Butter and Banana Rollups Snack Box

God forbid those PB&B rollups touch that celery, right? These snack boxes let you meal prep—and give kids plenty of options to choose from.

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2. Broccoli Pesto Pasta

We’re not saying you should lie, but if you don’t tell ’em there’s broccoli in there, they won’t know.

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3. Soft and Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

They’re made with whole wheat flour for a boost of nutrition.

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4. Tic Tac Toe Sandwiches

Whoever came up with “don’t play with your food” had never eaten one of these sandwiches.

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5. Sweet Potato Noodle Ham and Cheese Cups

The ability to eat their lunch with their fingers is a major plus.

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6. 4-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

Pancakes for lunch? Listen, it’s all about choosing your battles.

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7. Sweet Potato, Bacon and Broccoli Egg Muffins

They’re quick, filling and healthy to boot, and you can swap the fillings for whatever your kid likes best.

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8. Homemade Spaghettios

It’s not that much more effort than the stuff from a can, and you have the added benefit of knowing what it’s made of.

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9. Homemade Crispy Baked Fish Sticks

The eternal question: To dip, or not to dip?

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10. Sesame Noodle Bowls

Easy on the chiles, heavy on the cheese.

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11. Baked Quinoa Chicken Nuggets

They might not be shaped like dinosaurs, but they’re just as easy to make and taste a lot better, too. The quinoa breading is crispy, the chicken is moist—they’re practically begging to be dipped in barbecue sauce.

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12. Baked Mac-and-Cheese Bites

Macaroni and cheese is always a good idea, but when it comes in a portable, pre-portioned package, it’s even better. Since the leftovers store beautifully, you’ll even have lunch for a few days.

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13. Baking Sheet Quesadillas

Instead of making a bunch of individual quesadillas, save time by making one big one and cutting it into manageable squares. (Bonus points if you can sneak in a veggie or two.)

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14. Meal-Prep Creamy Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Raisins

Our advice? Make the raisins optional.

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15. BLT Pasta Salad

What’s the secret to getting your kid to eat romaine? Toss it with lots of fun, ruffly noodles and a bunch of bacon, of course.

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16. Turkey Spinach Pinwheels Meal Prep

Kiddo hates turkey? Swap in ham or chicken. No-go on the spinach? Skip it. These easy lunchboxes are endlessly adaptable—pick whatever fruit and veggie they like.

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17. Crispy Cauliflower Tacos

Good news: Crispy cauliflower looks a lot like chicken nuggets. Start ’em on taco Tuesday early.

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18. Homemade Healthy Fish Sticks

They’re even easier than the ones you buy from the freezer section.

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19. Sandwich on a Stick

Cute? Check. Fun to eat? Check, check. We think all sandwiches should be served on a stick.

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20. Veggie Sushi

This is just practice for when your kid graduates to the real thing. (OK, maybe they’ll start with California rolls).

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21. Mini Corn Dog Muffins

You didn’t think we’d forget your toddler’s favorite food group, did you? These hot dog bites come together in no time and keep well in the fridge. Don’t forget the ketchup, of course.

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22. Healthy Mac and Cheese

Since every meal can’t possibly be smothered in cheese sauce (believe us, we’ve tried), this one has a secret: It’s made with butternut squash instead.

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23. Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

Wanna know a secret? There’s zero frying involved. We knew there was a reason you loved chicken tenders.

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24. Peanut Butter Apple Cinnamon Sushi Rolls

His two favorite food groups in one fun-to-eat package.

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25. Ham, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Quesadillas

If you can have breakfast for dinner, you can have breakfast for lunch. These ham and cheese quesadillas take only 30 minutes to make, and they even have a little broccoli snuck in there for good measure.

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26. Roasted Broccoli Grilled Cheese

Broccoli sneaks its way in again, this time in a kid-friendly (and healthy-ish) spin on grilled cheese.

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27. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad

Because even your three-year-old isn’t immune to the appeal of corkscrew-shaped pasta.

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28. Mini Potato and Carrot Quiche Cups

Swap the traditional crust with a kid- and parent-approved potato exterior. (Psst: You could even use sweet potatoes if you want.)

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29. Chickpea Salad Lunch Box

Matchstick carrots, seedless grapes and a small side of naan make this easy chickpea salad a full meal.

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RELATED: 6 Kid-Friendly Vegan Recipes from an Actual Kid Nutritionist

30. Cheesy Chicken Quinoa Enchilada Meatloaf Muffins

Worried about spice level? There’s just one teaspoon of chili powder in this recipe.

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31. Chicken Parmesan Bites

Cheesy, crispy, bite-size and dippable. What’s not to love?

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32. Chicken and Carrot Cups

The cheddar cheese is optional but encouraged.

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33. Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

Just like grandma’s…except with a sneaky serving of cauliflower.

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34. Easy Parmesan Buttered Noodles

Plain noodles with Parm? Your kid has good taste.

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35. Mini Quesadillas

Beans and cheese stuffed into pint-size wonton wrappers make for a delicious midday meal. So delicious we might sneak one for ourself.

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36. Brown Butter Sausage Penne Pasta

We’ve found your new mantra: Peas, penne and Parmesan.

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37. Sesame Noodles Meal Prep

A slightly sweet sauce and slurpable noodles are the key to expanding your kid’s palate.

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38. Carrot Pigs in a Blanket

Will they believe you if you tell them it’s hot dogs?

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39. Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

The trick to easy homemade pizza? Use flour tortillas as the crust.

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40. Crispy Cauliflower Nuggets

If a salad and a chicken nugget had a baby.

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41. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

Junior might not eat the bell pepper boat, but he’ll gobble up what’s inside: A creamy, yogurt-y chicken salad that’s packed with hidden vegetables.

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42. Potato Toast Dippers

Aside from being tasty, these potato “toasts” are great for gluten-sensitive tots. All you need now is her favorite toppings for dipping.

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RELATED: 18 Nut-Free Recipes for Kids with Allergies

43. Mozzarella Meatball Frittata

So that spaghetti and meatballs you lovingly made last night went untouched. No worries: Repurpose those leftovers into a frittata, cut it into kid-size slices and watch them disappear.

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44. Crispy Baked Cauliflower-Corn Nuggets

Admit it: You child could live entirely on things marketed as nuggets.

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45. Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

Here’s proof that you don’t always need to hide the veggies to get them eaten.

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46. Veggie Fried Rice

She’ll love that it looks like confetti; you’ll love that it takes only 20 minutes to whip up.

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47. Sweet Potato Fritters with Avocado Dipping Sauce

Who needs French fries when you have sweet potato fritters? Make them even more toddler-friendly by scaling down the size.

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48. Taco Pinwheels

Presenting the failsafe ingredient that will make your kid want to eat anything: cream cheese.

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49. Broccoli and Cheddar Brown Rice Muffins

With whole grains, protein and veggies, these cheesy rice muffins are a complete package. Serve them with some sliced fruit, chef’s—er—toddler’s choice.

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50. Almond Butter Stuffed Soft Pretzel Bites

Soft, salty and just sweet enough. Serve ’em with jam for dipping

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RELATED: 25 Kid-Friendly Dinners You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

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