Toddler Recipes: Home Lunch Ideas For Kids


Toddler Recipes: Home Lunch Ideas for Kids. We have some meal suggestions and snacks. We also have found some favorite containers to use for packing lunches and a few tips to keep that lunch warm . Some of these suggestions are perfect for the health conscious parent but we have also added a few meals that we think most children will enjoy.

Main Meal Ideas

home lunch ideas
  • Veggie Mix
    Baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, steamed broccoli or cauliflower with Ranch dressing. Switch it up and add spinach dip instead of Ranch dressing.

  • Salad
    Lettuce with croutons in a ziplock and a creamy dressing using this container, pack a spoon for the dressing

  • Egg or Tuna Salad
    Butter Lettuce or iceberg lettuce with a scoop of egg or tuna salad. No additional dressing needed. Add a sprinkle of paprika on the egg salad.

  • Fruit Salad
    Grapes, strawberries, blueberries, melon etc with a scoop of yogurt or cottage cheese

  • Cold Pasta Salad
    Pasta, Olives and cut Cherry tomatoes with a little Italian style dressing

  • Bagels
    Fill with favorite toppings such as cream cheese,honey or even peanut butter and jelly. (They have thin bagels now too)

  • Tortilla Wraps or Pita Bread
    Filled with hummus, shredded carrots, cucumbers and deli meat

  • Mini Subs
    Small Hoagies filled with favorite deli meat and a slice of cheese or chicken salad

  • Homemade Lunchables
    Pack crackers like Saltines, Triscuits or Wheat Thins, cheese cubes and deli meat cut into squares or for fun with small cookie cutters. (this is a great make ahead lunch)

  • Turkey or Ham Pinwheels
    Spread hummus on a tortilla, then layer a slice of turkey or ham and some spinach leaves. Roll up and cut into 1 inch rolls.

  • Chicken or Tuna Sandwich
    Or pack in a container with crackers on the side. We add small chunks of apples and sliced grapes.

  • Egg Salad
    Make a sandwich or pack in a container with crackers on the side.

  • Cheese and Salami
    Slice salami, pepperoni or roll up some prosciutto and pair with slices of block cheese, cheese stick and a baby bell.

Warm Main Dishes

See our container suggestions for keeping foods warm. Toaster Ovens are very handy for quick heating and wrapping in foil or for better heat retention cut into smaller pieces and place in a thermos.
  • Soup

  • Macaroni and Cheese

  • Bagel Pizza: toasted Bagel with pepperoni and melted mozzarella cheese.

  • Pizza Here is our Home Made Muffin Pizza Recipe or leftover pizza

  • Hamburger Sliders
    One will fit in the thermos suggested

  • Hot Dog
    Heat and slice. We recommend the fully cooked hotdogs, heat in microwave.

  • Baked Beans
    Add a teaspoon of honey or a few sliced Hot Dogs

  • Quesadilla
    Make ahead and zap for a few seconds in the microwave to pack. Slice into small strips. Add a little salsa or sour cream in a small container

  • Chicken Nuggets
    Zap in microwave or bake in a toaster over for quickest heating

  • Chili and Sliced Hot Dogs
    Homemade or can, just heat and pack. Add a tablespoon of shredded cheese on top.

  • Grilled Cheese Strips
    Grilled Cheese in a pan or even toasted and then cut in 3rds or 4ths. It might not stay "crispy" but still is a favorite

  • Fish Sticks
    Another easy to prepare but this too will not stay crispy

  • Pasta
    Pasta lightly seasoned with butter and Parmesan

  • Spaghetti and Chili
    Left overs from dinner make a great hot lunch idea. Just heat and pack in a thermos.

  • Canned Items
    Great for a quick lunch idea Chef Boyardee and other brands offer some kids meals


  • Cheese Sticks
  • Cheese Slices (cut out fun shapes with mini cookie cutters or into cubes)
  • Home Made Snack Mixes: Raisins, Pretzel, Goldfish, Cereal
  • Carrots, Cucumbers, Grape Tomatoes or Celery Sticks
  • Hard Boiled Egg (cut in half for young children)
  • Yogurt with fruit or Drinkable Yogurts
  • Frozen yogurt: thaws nicely by lunch
  • Fruit cups such as sliced peaches, mandarin oranges. These can be messy so I drain the juice and put the fruit in a small container with spoon.
  • Apple Sauce (best for older children since this can get messy)
  • Jello Snacks and Pudding
  • Granola Bars
  • Box of Raisins
  • Popcorn
  • Trail Mixes
  • Apple Slices with lemon squeezed to retain color and caramel dip
  • Pretzels and Goldfish varieties
  • Triscuits or Wheat Thins with a few slices of Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese
A favorite was a mix of popcorn, goldfish and pretzels. We just stored it in an airtight container and used a measuring scoop to put in a small ziplock.

For Older Kids

We switched to these Systema Branch Lunch containers which are also BPA free and love the ones with compartments which help keep bread from getting soggy and they love to "construct their lunch".

Other Ideas

  • Salad: Lettuce in main compartment, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and croutons in smaller compartments.
  • Waffles: 2 Belgian Waffles in main compartment with blackberries and strawberries, whip topping in smaller compartments.
  • Wraps: 2 Small Tortillas rolled into main compartment. Turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato, in smaller compartments. Hummus spread or Ranch dressing in small separate container.
home lunch ideas for older kids

Lunch Containers

There are many fancy ones at The Container Store that can hold different items separately. I've seen a few at Walmart as well. These are the ones we have used with success that are easy to clean and have lasted the entire school year.

We found this container to be the most effective for keeping foods warm but naturally it will depend on what time is lunch. Perfect for small portions of soups and our warm meal ideas like the Hamburger Sliders. While it will keep most items warm it will not keep items crispy on the outside like fish sticks.

We found Funtainer brand thermoses at Walmart and Target. We also use the water thermos daily and with ice, water stays cold all day.

Tip for Keeping Food Warm: Microwave 1 cup of water for a minute and pour into clean container before use. Cover and wait 20 minutes then remove water, wipe and place
thermos for kids hot lunches

Keeping Things Cool!

Cute Ice Packs

Keep yogurt, cheese and other food cool and fresh in your child lunch with these small cute ice packs. Refreeze and use again and again.

Makes lunch fun and stands out for young children to remember to bring it back home. There are waterproof name stickers perfect you can order from various companies for items like these and other lunch containers.

cute kids ice packs for school lunches

Dip Container

You can find containers like this at Walmart and The Container Store. It is perfect for snacks and lunches. Here are some ideas:
  • Perfect for fresh veggies
  • Salad and dressing
  • Chicken nuggets with ketchup or favorite dip like honey mustard or BBQ
  • Cut hot dogs with ketchup
  • Apple and Fruit slices with Caramel or yogurt dip
  • Crackers and veggies with hummus

dip container for veggies and salads

BPA Free Containers

We found these BPA free containers from the Container store but more stores are offering these type of plastic storage containers in various sizes. These range in size from sandwich size to snacks size. The Nalene brand is designed for use in storing liquids for travel and therefore are leak proof. We got a tip from The Container Store that they are also perfect for dressings and sauces. We fill them with Ranch Dressing, sour cream, syrup, butter, and taco sauce.