As any parent knows, feeding the kids can be quite a task. Trying to make something nutritious, delicious AND quick is hard enough, but if you have especially picky eaters then finding new lunch ideas can be a real challenge.
Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of 16 great lunch ideas that your children will absolutely love – they’re perfect for toddlers but also great for young kids who may be homeschooling at the moment. Give them a go!
Lockdown lunch ideas for toddlers & young kids:
- Pasta salad. Spruce up the regular ‘pasta and cheese’ by sneaking in some of their 5 a day – just add some pesto along with the veggies of your choice (spinach and cherry tomatoes work great in this).
- Breakfast egg muffins. These are great for a quick & nutritious ‘brunchy’ option. All you need to do is mix a few eggs with some spinach, cheese, bacon or other mix-ins, then pop them in a muffin tin and bake until they’re cooked through. Pro-tip: you can make these in bulk on a Sunday and give them to the kids throughout the week – they last really well in the fridge. Serve along with some fruit, veg or any starchy carbs you have in the kitchen. They’ll be a huge hit!
- Bagels (or bagel thins). These are super versatile and make a nice change from a standard sandwich. We love adding cream cheese and a bit of ham or smoked salmon in them, and you can also hide some cucumber or leafy greens in there if the kids aren’t fans of veggies. Opt for bagel thins if a regular bagel is too heavy.
- Quick & easy egg fried rice. Ideal for when you have leftover rice in the fridge – otherwise you can use the microwave rice packs that are available at the supermarket. Simply toss an egg in a pan with some oil, scramble it around and add rice and frozen peas/sweetcorn. Season to taste and that’s it! A delicious warm meal that’s easy to double up on if you’ve got multiple children (or are just looking for something that you can dig into as well).
- Jacket potato. Split them between multiple kids or have half as part of your own lunch. You can either buy the pre-cooked frozen ones (which you stick in the microwave for 5 mins) or pierce a sweet potato with a fork, rub with a bit of oil and microwave for 5 mins (wrapped in a piece of kitchen roll). The end result is a satisfying warm lunch that takes less than 10 mins and is fully customizable. Fill it up with beans, cheese, tuna mayo – whatever your kids love.
- Hummus & Avocado Wrap. These are a delicious veggie/vegan option with protein from the hummus, healthy fats from the avocado and some carbs from the wrap to keep their energy up. , or even leftover guacamole, and protein-rich hummus to make these vegan hummus avocado wraps. Add lettuce, cucumber or grated carrot for some extra crunch, if you like.
- Healthy ‘kebabs’. This is a great hack for anyone with kids who like to play/get interactive with their food. It’s a ridiculously simple idea but works wonders when you want the kids to enjoy their fruits and veggies. Use wooden skewers to create savoury ‘kebabs’ (cheese, cooked chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives) and sweet ones (grapes, banana, apple and dried apricots). They’re a great way to put together a quick lunch with no cooking and minimal prep – just make sure you use flat, blunt-edged bamboo sticks rather than the skewers with the pointy edges.
- PB&J(ish). Although peanut butter and jam are a great combination, the sugar which might give your kids a bit too much energy (and then an inevitable crash). Instead, use fruits such as sliced up grapes or berries to add natural sweetness, along with some toast and nut butter (peanut or almond, depending on your preference).
- Smoothie time. We’ve all heard about how great smoothies are for hiding veggies in, and they don’t just have to be a snack or breakfast. Adding oats, banana and peanut butter will make them more filling (and delicious), and you can also sneak in some spinach for extra vitamins & fibre. The great thing about smoothies is that you can also prep them beforehand to make them even quicker – fill up a few sandwich bags with some fruits & veg then pop them in the freezer. When you want to make lunch just get one out and chuck the ingredients in the blender with some milk/juice and any additions, and they’re good to go.
- Veggie & egg fritters. These are similar to a classic omelette, but are another great option for kids who like things to be a little more interactive. They’re pretty simple to make, and you can also cook ahead and freeze them to reheat in the oven when needed.
- Roll-ups/pinwheels. Sometimes all you need to do to spruce up lunches is change the way they look – this recipe gives a quick overview of how to make them. They’re totally customisable so you can make them with whatever ingredients you like: jam with peanut butter or cream cheese, hummus or guacamole with chicken, soft cheese with slices of ham.
- Healthy ‘nachos’. Cut up a warm tortilla into strips and add some cheese, diced tomato and avocado/guacamole to a bowl. You can also add any other veggies you like – sweetcorn and diced sweet peppers are great with this – and top with cooked chicken or ham for some extra protein. You can also add a spoon of plain greek yoghurt as a healthy alternative to sour cream with the same creaminess & tang.
- DIY Lunchables. Cheese, crackers and either sliced turkey or ham make these a great (and much cheaper) alternative to the store-bought packed lunches. You can also add in some orange segments and blueberries on the side for some extra sweetness and fibre.
- Pitta pizza. Who doesn’t want pizza for lunch? You can make this healthy alternative by cutting a tortilla into triangles (like pizza slices), cover with a bit of pizza/tomato sauce, shredded cheese & whatever toppings you like! Pop them in the oven for a few minutes and they’re done. You can go classic with some pepperoni or keep things veggie with sweetcorn, mushrooms or peppers.
- Fish-n-dip. If you want to get your kids used to more fish in their diet, a great way to do that is through these super simple dips. All you need to do is mix some tinned tuna or salmon with a dollop of mayonnaise and a spoon of yoghurt. The result is a super simple tuna/salmon mayo filling that your toddlers can enjoy with pitta strips or veggies, and it doesn’t even require any cooking.
- Croissant sandwiches. This is definitely a step up from your usual Ploughman, but is a great treat for the kids and is super quick to make! Just use a plain croissant instead of bread as the sandwich base, and then fill it with whatever you like – sliced meat & cheese, peanut butter & banana, anything you like. You can also serve some veggies on the side to help fill them up and add in some extra fibre.
All the lunch ideas mentioned are quick, easy to make and don’t require too many ingredients – so be sure to give them a go.