12 On the Go Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare or Preschool

Packing lunches for daycare, preschool or anywhere on the go present a whole new challenge for feeding toddlers. We figure out how to create healthy, yummy meals at home but packing lunches to go can be confusing at first. It doesn’t have to be though!  These 12 toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool will give you some ideas for packing easy lunches for your little ones.

Related: 5 Steps to Take the Stress out of Lunch! (Weekly Make Ahead Lunches)

When Miles started camp this summer, he got really excited about his new lunch box and picking out some of the items he was going to have. I would give him simple choices- like bananas or strawberries, carrots or cucumbers, etc. They don’t have to be elaborate meals. Just get a few foods in each food group at your weekly grocery trip and rotate them around for the week.

**Make sure you scroll to the end of the post and download your own list of easy lunch ideas! Has over 50 items you can reference to create even more yummy lunches. 

General Tips

  • Aim for a Balanced Meal- Each lunch doesn’t have to be perfect, but it helps in figuring out what to include if you think about having something from each food group and making it as colorful as possible.  They won’t always include everything and that is okay, but aim for a protein, grains, dairy, vegetable and fruit to round out the lunch.
  • Include your Child- Have them help with lunch preparation. It can be in the simplest  way as making a few easy choices or actually helping make items like sandwiches. Don’t include lots of things they have never seen, but once in a while I like to add something new along their favorite. And I don’t give up after the first day!
  • Be Patient and Relaxed- Don’t take it personal if it doesn’t all go well. But lunch won’t always come back completely eaten. They may not even touch their vegetables- but that doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow! Repeated exposure to certain foods usually helps a child be more comfortable and give it a try. It is a long term process, little by little they start to eat different foods. The quantity isn’t a perfect science either- their hunger will also change daily based on how active they were or how large their breakfast was.

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Best Toddler Lunch Boxes

You do not have to get a special lunchbox. I personally have loved these and my son Miles in particular gets really excited about taking them for lunch. You can use tupperware or any container, but I have loved these for a few reasons. The compartments just make it so easy to include different food groups. It only requires one container instead of multiple. And they don’t leak! Easy for them to eat out of and easy for us to clean- win, win.

YUMBOX Original Bento Lunch Box– I’ve loved these- the design is really cute and functional. The bottom of the container is labeled with the different food groups to help you organize your meals. They are also lightweight and easy to wash.

Bentgo Kids Lunch Box– My other favorite. They are more suited for sandwiches than the Yumbox, so I usually grab one of these if I am putting something bigger in their lunch. It is a little heavier, but it fits in our Pottery Barn lunch bag a lot easier than the other.

12 Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare or Preschool

Related: Quick & Nutritious Breakfast Ideas for a One Year Old and 2 Year Old Refuses to Eat? Try these Super Helpful Tips

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 1) Cream cheese, bell pepper and olive pinwheels, carrots with hummus, salami and raspberries.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 2) Tuna salad with crackers, tomatoes, olives, green apples and HappyTot yogurt.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 3) English muffin pizza, popcorn, snap peas, pineapple with Annie’s chocolate bunnies.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 4) Turkey, salami and Babybel cheese with crackers, carrots with ranch, blueberries and greek yogurt with honey.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 5) Hard boiled egg, pretzels, red bell peppers, hummus, grapes, greek yogurt with honey and blueberries.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 6) Cheese quesadilla, avocado, salsa, red bell peppers and blueberries.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 7) Banana, peanut butter pinwheels, cheese cubes, cucumbers, Happykid granola bar, strawberries and trail mix.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 8) Pasta salad, cubed chicken breast, carrots, bananas, GoGo applesauce and Annie’s chocolate bunnies.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 9) Chicken, cheese and tomatoes tacos, avocado, salsa, Annie’s cheese cracker bunnies and RXBar.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 10) Turkey and cheese sandwich, tomatoes with ranch, clementines and almond/cranberry trail mix.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 11) Avocado sandwich, red apple, cucumbers, trail mix and graham crackers.

Toddler lunch ideas for daycare or preschool that can help you put together easy and healthy lunches on the go for your little ones. 12) Whole grain waffles with maple syrup, hard boiled egg, Gouda cheese strips, kiwi and yogurt with granola and strawberries.

Please let me know in the comments below about your challenges with feeding toddlers or if you have other great lunch ideas that I should know about!

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Lunch ideas for school or daycare printable

Use this list to create healthy & delicious lunches for your little ones!

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24 thoughts on “12 On the Go Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare or Preschool

  1. Does the bento box fit in the square lunch boxes?

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      We have the Pottery Barn lunchboxes. They fit in there, the Bentgo is a tight fit while the Yumbox fits perfectly.

  2. Does the avocado brown in the sandwiches or do you add something to keep it from browning. My picky eater loves avocado toast at home and that would be a great peanut/tree nut free lunch.

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      A little lemon juice!

  3. Hi! Love these ideas! Question about the quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches cuz my kids love anything with cheese. Do they eat them cold??? Do they hold up in a cold bentgo ?

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      My kids do eat them cold, but they also have a microwave at school where they heat things up. Usually for a very short time though. They do hold up in the Bentgo. Lunch has definitely been a trial and error thing- sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t so I don’t pack it again. You’ll start seeing what they really like and don’t. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  4. I don’t want this to sound silly but when can you give toddlers nuts? I give my toddler lots of exposure to peanut butter and almond butter but I have never given her whole nuts. When does it stop being a choking hazard?

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      I think the official age is 4 for nuts and popcorn. But you know your child best, my 3 year old is eating nuts. He chews pretty thoroughly, but I made the judgment alone- didn’t ask anyone. Your pediatrician may be a good source!

  5. So dumb question here, I love the banana/peanut butter pinwheel idea – but with cutting the bananas ahead of time, do they turn brown quick?

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      It depends on how ripe it is. I’ve also found that in the pinwheel, it doesn’t brown easily. OR it’s hidden inside and toddlers don’t notice. 🙂 The banana is still good, it just doesn’t look the same which doesn’t always go over well in toddler land.

    2. I find running cold water over the cut end for 5-10 seconds while rubbing that fresh banana sap off with my finger stops it from browning through. It dries with a very light brown top that doesn’t taste gross

      1. Shantall Bond says:

        Great idea. I’ll have to try this!

  6. I’m a first time mama and still figuring all of this out. These are great ideas but I’m so confused about whether their lunches need to be cold whenever it includes dairy and deli meat…etc. just an ice pack?

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      We use the pottery barn lunch bags. The bento boxes fit in great with a couple ice packs if needed. I don’t use ice packs every time, but if there are a lot of perishables. Then there is a pocket on the side for a water bottle or drink.

  7. The kids will surely love to have this kind of lunch in daycare everyday! Ugh, even I want to have these lunch boxes in the office. Thanks for these great ideas. Love lots, xoxo

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      LOL. They do have some adult ones that people love!

  8. Thanks for these lunch ideas. First time mom and the lunch boxes have got me stumped. My child is a picky eater.

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      Thank you! Glad you found it helpful!

  9. Great ideas, but I can’t believe you can get your toddler to eat all of those things!!!

    1. Shantall Bond says:

      My toddlers do NOT always eat everything in their lunch box! And both my boys pick different things to actually eat and what foods they leave. I just keep trying- especially with veggies, because eventually they start to eat them with a dipping sauce. The more they see it, the more familiar they are with the food and willing to give it a try. Sometimes things come back untouched but that is just part of feeding toddlers. My oldest ate shrimp tonight and he wouldn’t touch it before. I still serve him a little and he ate them up and asked for more! You just never know when the shift will happen. 🙂

  10. Hello! I’m a fellow toddler mommy and I LOVE these ideas for lunches- my toddler will love these combos! I’m trying to reach you to see if I can reblog this, but I don’t see an email for regular old questions! My email is jstartari@yahoo.com, I’d love to hear from you! Thanks!

    Jess Gent

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