February 07, 2012

Toddler Lunches: Going Beyond Chicken Nuggets, Hot Dogs, and PBJ Sandwiches

I recently realized that Squish and I have gotten into a lunch rut when he gave me this awful look saying, "PBJ again?! You've got to be kidding me mom." And then tossed it over the side of the table. Time to branch out and find good healthy alternatives!

I'll be updating and expanding this list often, so check back. (last update 6/12/12)

mini calzones (make a bunch and freeze them!)
English muffin pizzas (almost whole wheat English muffin recipe)
Quesadillas (think beyond chicken and cheese!)
Hummus and pita bread (or veggies if your child will eat them)
Hot Hummus Sandwich
Roll Ups (nut butter and banana, meat and cheese, hummus and veggies)
Whole wheat macaroni and cheese
Whole wheat pancakes (freezes well)
Applesauce pancakes (freezes well)
Whole wheat waffles (freezes well)
Seasoned brown rice or wild rice
Cheese slices and crackers
Steamed veggie sticks
Soups (chicken noodle, vegetable, bean)
Grilled cheese (try different cheeses and adding things like meat slices, tomato slices, and even spinach)
Rice and beans
Whole wheat applesauce muffins
Yogurt (read the labels to avoid sugar and HFCS!)
Pasta salad with veggies
Egg and cheese burritos
Mini quiche (basic quiche recipe - bake in muffin tins instead, these do freeze well)
Pasta in butter and cheese
Pasta in tomato sauce (easy to hide other veggies in there)
Soft cooked apple slices or apple slices
Grapes (cut in half or quarters, frozen grapes are tasty too!)
Mandarin oranges
Pineapple chunks
Couscous with vegetables
Boiled eggs, sliced
Scrambled eggs
Cheese cubes or sticks
Baked sweet potato wedges or fries
Blueberry and zucchini bread
Pasta and pureed vegetables (perfect for using up old baby food!)
Freeze dried yogurt
S/mashed sweet potatoes
Zucchini chips
Toast and fruit spread
Zucchini parmesan cakes
Avocado slices
Blackberries and raspberries
Tuna salad
Egg salad
Chicken salad
Corn, cut off the cob
Fresh steamed green beans
Fresh steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets
Tomato slices
Whole grain bread or toast
Baked fish (tilapia and salmon are easy to find and not too strong tasting)
Lightly sautéed yellow summer squash and zucchini slices
Cucumber slices, skin peeled
Pumpkin bread muffins
Vol au Vent
Playgroup granola bars
Banana oat cookies
Oatmeal and apple bars (can easily cut the sugar WAY down!)
Cheese and veggie omelets
Veggie burgers

And don't forget - leftovers from last night's dinner!

Squish at 15 months enjoying whole wheat crackers, sliced cheese, and a banana.

Squish at 18 months enjoyed a grilled cheddar cheese, tomato, and chopped spinach sandwich. He picked out some of the tomato, but ate the rest!

Special thanks to the October and November 2010 moms over at pregnancy.org for sharing their lunch ideas. Love you ladies! :D


Shelley said...

Found you from pinterest. This is extremely helpful! My daughter was also born November 2010, and I'm constantly looking for new foods for her to try. I will be checking back for more ideas frequently, as you suggested!

Mrs Sea Monster said...

Glad you stopped by Shelley!
I've added a few more ideas today. I also have several recipes ideas floating around in my head to try, but sadly it'll have to wait until after we've completed our cross country move.

Amy said...

Thank you for this post! I eat Paleo but I still feed DS non-Paleo for lunches. I have been in a rut too and thanks to you will no longer have that problem!

Ivette said...

I found you on pinterest too, think i will print this out and put in my kitchen so i have a reference... :)

Joanna said...

I found you on pinterest, and I am so picky about what I feed my son. He eats everything as is not picky, but lunch seems to be the hardest for me to get variety to him. I can't wait to try some of these ideas. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

My 20 month old will not eat over half the things on this list. It'd be nice but just isn't gonna happen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I have a 14 mos old and I am constantly trying new healthy foods with him. It seems like its always the same old frozen processed foods that he will only eat. This was very helpful and I am definitely going to use this :)

Marisa D said...

My son will be 4 next month, and this list has helped me also!

Katrina said...

My 14 1/2 month old is a very good eater and seems right now to perfer the healthier foods but I am always looking for new ideas and these really cool! I found you on pininterest!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous, I know kids can be picky eaters, but 20 months is still a great time to introduce new foods. My kids LOVE avocados and Yo Gabba Gabba. They had a great song on there, "try it, you'll like it." Where the monster didn't want to try his avocado snack but once he at least tried it, he liked it. I at least try to get my toddlers to try something before i believe they don't like it. even then, i'll try again on another day and even call it something else! you'll be surprised if you call something a fun name or even "hide" fruits or veggies in something they already like. Now is the time to introduce a variety of different things. They might love hummus or something else but there is only one way to find out!

Thanks Mrs. Sea Monster! (also came from pinterest)

Anonymous said...

This is list has a wide variety of different foods, but unfortunately leans heavily towards grains and dairy- foods that can have an effect on the body similar to sugar in terms of insulin reaction, as well as cause other health-related issues. Grains can also become very addictive. I hope to avoid these foods while focusing on veggies, fruits, healthy fats & lean proteins.

Paula said...

Thank you so much for this!! I found you on Pinterest and am so thankful for all the good ideas to help me keep my child healthy!

Anonymous said...

So glad I found you through pinterest! I'm a nanny and I'm always trying to find something other than mac & cheese to serve the 2 yr old I take care of for lunch. I get so tired of making the same thing day after day. At least she loves lunch meat wrapped around a cheese sticks so on days when we're short on time I can get something different in her. I can't wait to try a bunch of new things from your list. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

Great ideas! My son is 22 months and goes days where all he'll eat is blueberries or sweet potato fries! I keep trying meat but one thing that makes me feel better about his protein intake is cottage cheese! He loves it. I know they aren't the healthiest but if I give him a bit of ketchup or aoli to dip, he will sometimes eat more. Hopefully his tastes will change as right now he's not a fan of pasta, pasta sauce, meat or many veggies (only likes peas, beans, sweet potato pretty much:(

Johanna said...

Just a note. Whole grains contains phytic acid that interfere with iron and other minerals.And if your kids have a troublesome stomach you might reconsider the whole grain intake.

Some scientist say that no kids under five should eat whole grain, some say you shold give small doses.

Now, I don't mean that you should stop giving it to your kids if it works for you and your todlers.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome list! Thanks for the tips. It is so easy to get in a boring rut. I recently started making spinach smoothies to get in some veggies for myself and my 19 month old loves them! I even tricked my six year old into drinking them too!

More Than A Mom said...

I have a home daycare and I always try to include 3 if not 4 food group choices for the children. As I am about to prepare my April menu, I'll just pick and choose from your list. Thanks for compiling it! I too found it on Pinterest.

Jonathan, Lindsay, and Brooks said...

Awesome! Thank you so much! My son was born October '10 and has been going through a picky phase...very picky. There is so much for me to try here, and it all sounds great! :)

Nicole said...

I have an a 5 year old and a 2 year old still at home during the days, and it's hard to give them variety! I'll definitely bring this list next time I go shopping! Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

This might sound ridiculous, but I'm a graduate student with a busy daytime schedule that includes little/no time for a real lunch. Your list gave me some great ideas for easy things to just cut up, throw in a baggie, and keep it in my backpack for mid-day snacking. I'm not a picky eater but often have trouble staying full or not wanting to reach for a bagel from the cafeteria. Thanks for the great ideas for backpack baggie lunches! :)

Anonymous said...

This is really helpful! I usually get the fruit cups from the store, but make sure they say in juice! (And not artifically flavored or "sweetened"juice!) That way the sugar content is way down and its healthier. Also, yogart with granola is good. You could even sneak in some fruit or something. Oatmeal is good for sneaking I'm fruit too! Or grilled sammies .. even plain sammies cuz they have so many options. Try whole wheat bread with avacods turkey, provolone, and bean sprouts. The possibilities are endless. I also feed my girly a lot of bananas. She loves them and I can just peel it
and hand it to her. Quick and simple :)

Carrie said...

for some reason I can't pin this page because the link has been reported as linking to spam ?!?!

Clint van eps said...

Do you have the recipe that is for the picture on the background of this page, It looks like sushi

Ashley said...

Very repetitive nd not much protein

Lori Orman said...

For all the anonymous post about not enough this and that and eating that will do this" she is making a list of foods that you may forget about, that you can add to your kids diet. Y'all are a bunch of gabby old hens I swear. Just this morning I was thing I'd start a blog and geez if I had to deal with comments like this I would not be a nice person. Tutals !

Anonymous said...

fellow Pintrest person.... just looking at the picture I wanted to frown... not because this isn't a great set of ideas but because I can't get my now 18 month old to stop shoving food in his mouth and under chewing. He does it to the point of choking when I just let him go... :( wish i knew how to rectify this. :( in any case, these are GREAT ideas. :) My name is Amber

Anonymous said...

Amber, My 15 month old is also doing this! It's so scary because she eats. So fast to point of choking! I'm trying smaller fruits abd veggies and have to literally ration her food. Great ideas- Is peanut butter safe fir 15 month old? Not sure due to allergies? Thanks!!! Aly

Mrs Sea Monster said...

Amber, is he chocking or gagging? There is a difference. I would talk to your ped about all else of course. My son gets ahead of himself at times and funny enough I give him smaller pieces now than I did a year ago at 7 months! When in doubt go with softer foods (well steamed veggies for instance) because while gagging may happen (which is a scary learning process for them!) it's not a cause of concern like actual chocking (which most kids don't chock on these really soft mushy foods). Good luck. Food can be very tricky at the toddler ages!

Aly, talk to you ped and discuss the pros and cons of your family of starting peanut butter. My son had no food sensitivities from foods I had eaten when he was exclusively breast fed and there are no food allergies on either side of the family. My ped said we could try peanut butter after our 9 month well check. My son did well with it. For other families this is not the best route to take and 9 months is way too early. There are benefits and major concerns for high allergen foods that you should research.

Mrs Sea Monster said...

Clint van eps: Sorry no recipe for my background picture. I took the picture at a restaurant in La Jolla, CA while on vacation two years ago. It's called the caterpillar roll. Sadly I was pregnant at the time and decided to pass on the deliciousness, but one of my best friends enjoyed every single bite. :p

Kristina Bennett said...

I saw this on Pinterest and it has some great ideas! As a mom of six and as an early childhood educator (with a degree and more than 15 years of experience in both fields) I can tell you his portion sizes are too large - toddlers only need about 1 TBSP per year of age per item you are serving - which means he doesn't need more than 2 or 3 crackers or more than half a banana.

You seem to be in to healthy eating, but your pictures show that you aren't thinking portion control. Toddlers don't need much - I've seen a TON of food go to waste at home and the schools I have worked in because toddlers get overwhelmed with what is being offered; not to mention, for those who love to eat - we have to be careful to watch how much our children should eat to avoid the obesity battle. Helpful tip: start small with the portions - you can always give more later and you will have less waste and be teaching healthier eating habits at the same time!

Rebecca said...

Great ideas! heck i may try some for ME! :) my 9.5 month old daughter thanks you... esp for the soft foods as we are still toothless!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for compiling these ideas! I have 13 month old twins that are going to enjoy this!

Anonymous said...

had to laugh when i saw this on pinterest as im always giving my son hot dogs, pb&j, and chicken nuggets! he was born nov 2010 also! love the ideas! thanks so much!!

Kimberly said...

Found you in Pintrest also.Thank you, these are great for my two year old.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the ideas! I also like to mix PB & J together in a bowl and then spread on crackers. Grilled peanut butter (with or without banana) is also yummy!

Sue at Wub Boo Mummy said...

Found you on Pinterest. Great list and I'll be trying some of them out on my kids.

Anonymous said...

Seen on pinterest as well. My almost 11 month old daughter prefers table food over baby food. Thank you for the wonderful ideas! I will be printing the list out.

Anonymous said...

Seen on pinterest too, always looking for different thing to try!

Anissa said...

Saw this on pinterest...I am your newest follower.
Anissa from Chasing Hailey

C. Elleanor said...

I found you on pintrest! I have a 14 month old son and this week I have been needing new ideas for things he can eat and pintrest is the site to search for help for issues of that nature. :) This is awesome! Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Love this list! We're always in need of new ideas, as my 14 month old refuses to eat the same thing more than two or three times in a row.
We actually leave the corn on the cob so he can feed it to himself more easily. Obviously that wouldn't work for someone who doesn't have a full set of front teeth, but he sure loves to hold it and bite it himself!

Alaina said...

I found you on Pintrest and I love your ideas. My older son is a November 2010 baby too! He has been super picky lately so I will have to try some of these ideas for him. Thanks!!!

Kristi Neff said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I found you through pinterest as most others did too! I just became a nanny so these ideas will come in handy!

Tracy said...

Love this list! I refer to it often when I'm feeling like we're in a lunch rut. Just looking through it again and realized I should probably leave you a comment to say thanks :)

Some of these comments are hilarious...thank goodness there are so many "experts" floating around the internet to set you straight!

littleabraham said...

Saw this post on pinterest, and just got to check it out today! I have a 6 year old, but some of these would still make good weekend lunches or after school snacks for him! He likes most of these things as well, so that's good! Big variety! :) I also have a 7 month old, so this will come in handy as she gets a little older too! Going to have to print out this list next time I head to the grocery! Thanks! :) Going to follow you, from http://littleabraham-princesscharming.blogspot.com :)

Anonymous said...

Found you on Pinterest and this is AWESOME! I have a 17 month old who won't eat from the spoon anymore and she is sick of pb&j!! You gave me great ideas! Thanks so much!!!

Rebecca said...

Wonderful ideas! Pinterester agian, this list is a big help. I have four kids from ages 7 to 2 and I get moans when I pull out the pb&j. Love that you call your son squish....one of my sons has the nickname squash. Blessings on your upcoming birth!

Lizard said...

It would appear I am a 27 year old toddler; I can't wait to try some of these for myself! I am a bit of a grazer, but making snack plates would be a great way to graze on healthy things instead of say... cheetos. Plus, if I just put a little bit of effort into preparing and presenting the food (ie cutting up an apple and putting it on a plate with some sort of nut butter or cheese cubes) I'm much more likely to enjoy it instead of it feeling like a chore to make healthier choices.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, found it on pinterest! My 23 month old is starting to become pickier but she grazes all day and a lot of these things are perfect for her.

Anonymous said...

I'm a college student and I make some of these for my meals....

I also really appreciate that you incorporate veggies and iffy foods for picky kids like hummus and fish. I'm studying nutrition and food neophobia just honestly isn't an excuse. If you start by placing new foods in front of kids, and then slowly incorporating them, they will learn to try them. I'm not saying they'll love it all (I hated bananas and still do). Just saying not trying something isn't an excuse, and I hope that when I have kids I'll have the same motivation!

Laura | My Little Gourmet said...

What a great list you've got going here. Thanks for the inspiration. :) -Laura

موسوعة الطبخ said...

very nice thank you so much =)

Katie said...

I absolutely loved this list!! So many things I have in the house, but never thought as offering them as lunch. My son is 2 1/2 and is very fickle. I feel this list has so many great ideas! Thanks for posting!!

Mary B. said...

It's crazy that you wrote this almost a year ago and are still getting new comments (like mine!)

So glad I found this post. I've been borderline stressed out lately trying to figure out what to feed my little dude without giving him junk food! He's almost 13 months and has only 2 teeth, so it's definitely tricky. I'm going to print this and post it on our fridge.

My husband and I thank you! And I'll be trying the applesauce muffin recipe very soon!