21 Toddler Lunch Ideas For Home, Day Care, & School

Packing a successful lunch box for your toddler — one that they’ll actually eat and not immediately deny — can be a lot harder than it sounds. Sure, in theory they should love a carefully prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwich and side of raspberries, but in reality? One day they’re into PB&Js and the next day they don’t even want to look at them, let alone try a bite. If you’re struggling for ideas, these fun toddler lunch box ideas are so adorable and unique that they *should* pique your little one’s interest.

Sometimes, part of getting a toddler to eat isn’t just about what you’re feeding them. You might need to play around with textures and different shapes, like changing up the way a PB&J is cut. I find that with my very particular 2-year-old, I can often get her to eat things she’s unsure of by placing it right next to something I know she loves. She’ll start eating the thing she loves, realizes she’s hungry, and then eats the other food as well.

A toddler lunch box is a great idea for all of these reasons, and you can use them whether your toddler is in daycare, school, or just at home. Start by getting a cute toddler bento box—Bentgo Bento Boxes for kids are a super popular and inexpensive option —and then fill it up.

The below ideas are creative and will make lunch seem exciting, which is exactly what you want. Feel free to copy them completely, or just use them as a source of inspiration. Change up little parts of them (like swapping celery sticks for carrot sticks) depending on what your child likes. A well-balanced lunch box should include a protein, some dairy, fruit, veggies, and a crunchy snack.

1

Banana Roll-Up Lunch Box

This cute little banana roll-up lunch box from Family Fresh Meals is perfect for a toddler who loves fruit and snacks, but isn’t really into meat yet (which basically explains my daughter). The roll-ups are a whole wheat tortilla, a banana, and peanut butter, and they’re a great alternative to PB&J. Add a small orange, some pretzels (or another crunchy snack), and some celery sticks to round it out. The peanut butter adds some protein and keeps this filling, and they’ll love picking at the snacks.

2

Turkey Pinwheels

Turkey and cheese make for another great pinwheel idea — these mini roll-up sandwiches are easy for toddlers to grab and make for simple portion control. Using this idea from Two Peas and Their Pod, fill a whole wheat tortilla with turkey, mustard, cheese, thin apple slices, and spinach, then roll up and cut. Add sides like grapes (cut them in quarters for toddlers), potato chips, a small granola bar, carrots (also modified for toddlers), and cucumbers.

3

DIY Uncrustables

This idea from Yummy Toddler Food is very simple and easy to adapt to your toddler’s tastes. You can make your own small PB&J Uncrustables, or you can buy them and serve them out of the package. Add a cheese stick, some sliced cucumbers, and some melon pieces. It’s balanced, super fast, and very versatile.

4

Yogurt & Granola

If you scroll to the fourth slide, you’ll see a really cute yogurt and granola idea from Yummy Toddler Food that is ideal for toddlers who like sweet stuff. It includes some plain yogurt with granola (be sure to pick out any large pieces that they could potentially choke on), kiwi, strawberries, and tomatoes. It’s full of sweet options that aren’t too sugary, and the granola adds a nice crunch.

5

Ham, Apples, & Cheese Wraps Lunch Box Idea

This cute low-carb idea from Family Fresh Meals is different and easy to put together, and it’s great for gluten-free toddlers or little ones who just aren’t that into bread and sandwiches. Using thicker slices of ham, wrap up apple slides and cheddar cheese slices. Add a fruit like grapes (you’ll want to cut them up), and some crackers for a crunch.

6

PBJ Waffle Sandwich Lunch Box

Put a new spin on peanut butter and jelly with this easy idea from Family Fresh Meals. Grab two waffles (either from the freezer or homemade), and spread them with jelly and peanut butter. Cut them in half so they’re easy for little hands to grab and they look like a sandwich. Add a mandarin (you might need to peel it) and a halved hard-boiled egg for more protein.

7

Cheese Quesadilla

Another super simple and unique idea from Family Fresh Meals, this lunch box incorporates dips, which are almost always a win for toddlers: they tend to love condiments and they find it exciting to dip their food. Make a cheese quesadilla (you can add chicken if you’d like), then cut into triangles. Add small cups of sour cream and salsa, and on the side, some cut-up grapes and avocado slices.

8

Owl Toast Lunch Box

Want to get seriously creative? Then make this owl toast that is almost too cute to eat from Two Peas and Their Pod. One slice of bread, almond butter, and pieces of banana, kiwi, strawberry, blueberries, and Cheerios make up the owl, and they’ll love picking apart their sandwich. You can add some sliced grapes, more strawberries and blueberries, and some carrots, celery, and cucumbers as snacks. A little yogurt or ranch dip is a nice addition.

9

Deconstructed Turkey Sandwiches

In this post, Yummy Toddler Food gives turkey sandwich lunch box options for young toddlers about a year old, older toddlers, and older kids. You can spread bread with a little mayo or mustard, cut into pieces, and then add some sliced turkey and cheese on the side (they can put the sandwiches together or eat everything separately). Add some sliced grapes and thinly sliced red peppers for snacks, and some avocado for a healthy fat.

10

Deli Meat Rollups

This versatile idea from Good Life Eats is really easy to change up according to your toddler’s tastes and works for a variety of ages. Roll up a few slices of their favorite deli meat, and mix that with crackers and sliced cheese. Orange slices or a mandarin make a yummy fruit choice, and granola with yogurt and chocolate covered raisins is a healthy and sweet addition.

11

Spiderman Pancake Lunch Box

If your little one loves Spiderman, then they’ll love this breakfast for lunch idea from Cookies and Cups. Add a few frozen or homemade pancakes with a fruit cup (or cut-up fresh fruit). You might also want to add a little container of maple syrup for dipping. Pistachios are good for older kids, while small granola might be better for toddlers. Add some pretzels, and a a decorated Babybel cheese or tomato on lettuce. You also don’t have to add the spider details if you don’t want to!

12

Copycat Starbucks Protein Box

OK, so this Starbucks copycat box from Damn Delicious wasn’t specifically made with toddlers in mind, but it’s a great idea for toddlers regardless. Make your own at home with apple slices, carrot and celery sticks, and chunks of cheddar cheese. Peanut butter or almond butter is great for dipping, a halved hardboiled egg makes for extra protein, and a small muffin or pita bread is a nice carb.

13

Sandwich Sushi Roll

How adorable is this sandwich sushi roll idea from Eating Richly? It’s pretty easy to put together and makes sandwiches fun, and can be great for meal prep. With a rolling pin, roll a piece of whole grain bread until it’s very thin (or use a tortilla), then top it with their favorite deli meat, a thin carrot stick, cucumber piece, and a chunk of cheddar cheese. Roll up and cut. Put this in a box with sides like sliced apples, a piece of chocolate, raspberries, and some cooked broccoli.

14

Grilled Cheese Lunch Box

Bring it back to the basics with this simple but delicious grilled cheese lunch box idea from Family Fresh Meals. Make a grilled cheese, then cut it into fours or smaller pieces (you can cut the crust off if necessary, of course). Serve it with a small covered container of tomato soup for dipping or eating with a spoon, and some small pickles. You might also want to add some fruit.

15

English Muffin Pizzas

Another basic you really can’t go wrong with is an English muffin pizza, and this idea from Family Fresh Meals is so perfect. Spread a toasted English muffin with tomato sauce and cheese (and maybe a protein if your toddler would like it), then broil for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve with sliced cucumbers and grapes for balance.

16

Egg Muffins

This egg muffin breakfast for lunch idea from Yummy Toddler Food looks delicious and easy. You can meal prep spinach egg muffins (or any kind) at the beginning of the week, then cut them into bite-sized pieces and add them to the lunch box. Serve with sliced cucumbers and melon pieces, and add some cereal or puffs (or a mix). It’s easy and fast, making this great for busy mornings.

17

Cornbread Waffles

Waffle sticks are another genius way to serve breakfast for lunch, and this idea from The Yumbox Mama nails it. Cornbread waffles or regular ones can be cut into easy-to-grab sticks. Add a side of maple syrup for dipping, some cut-up strawberries, a piece of cheese, and a mini pepperoni stick for protein. For more protein, a squeezable yogurt pouch is an easy addition.

18

Preschool Lunch Box

Made with preschool aged toddlers in mind, this lunch box idea is a vegetarian option with some delicious and healthy snacks. There’s a black bean and cheese quesadilla, Goldfish for some crunch, sliced cucumbers and strawberries, and a pouch of Made Good cookies for dessert. It’s easy and satisfying.

19

Kindergarten Lunch Box

For toddlers who are a little older, there’s this kindergarten lunch box idea that is really easy to put together as well. Meal prep chicken salad to add to the box, then add sides like carrots, tomatoes, blueberries, crackers, and a Nature’s Bakery bar. There’s a wide variety here and it’s all good for the little ones.

20

DIY Lunchable Brunchable Sausage Box

Another breakfast for lunch idea that toddlers will love is this mix of sweet and savory from Family Fresh Meals. Stack pancakes with sausage patties and some cheese — you can do this on fun food picks, or if you’re not comfortable with that, just stack them next to each other. Add some sliced fruit and a little bit of flavored yogurt. You can also add a cup of maple syrup if you want.

21

Pasta & Peas

If you scroll to slide two in this set of images from Yummy Toddler Food, you’ll find a fun way to incorporate pasta into a lunch box. Mix up pasta, butter, cheese, and peas for a satisfying lunch, then add sides like energy bites or granola and a pouch of applesauce. This is really easy to meal prep.

Remember, if these lunch ideas don’t work for you the way they are, just use them as a jumping point to come up with your own. We think you’ll find at least one your toddler will love!