June 20, 2013

Fast Toddler Lunches

*cherry tomatoes / pea snacks (trader joe's) / cheese / kidney beans with dulse flakes

*hard-boiled egg / brown rice with nutritional yeast / sliced steamed brussel sprouts / veggie pot-sticker (leftover)

*sourdough with cream cheese / curried kidney beans / roasted beets (cubed)

* avocado / cheese / veggie hot dog pieces / apple slices

*hard-boiled egg / soba noodles with nutritional yeast and sesame oil / zucchini and carrots sauteed with ginger 

Lunch time is one of my favorite rituals in our house. Of course there are those days where we are out and about and eat on the go (our favorite meal-on-the-run is peanut butter and jelly with a side of string cheese), but whenever possible I try to make it home for a mid-day meal. It's a time for Little Smith and I to sit together at the table, to babble in half sentences recounting the morning's activities, and hopefully to lay the ground work for a nice, long nap to follow. 

Although I want to provide nutritious and varied lunches, I generally don't have the time to do much cooking in the middle of the day. Leftovers are always winners, but lately those have been scarce (could be my 33 weeks pregnant appetite!). I look for foods that require little to no cooking and do my best to offer a fairly balanced plate.

Above is a week's worth of our fast and easy vegetarian toddler lunches... and generally I am eating some variation of the same ingredients. Often I will add a wrap or raw greens. Little Smith is open to many types of food, but can also be picky about textures. He won't eat raw vegetables, still likes his food to be cut into small pieces, and his fingers remain his favorite utensil. I keep his plate pretty clean and not too packed or else he gets overwhelmed and throws things around. He almost always requests seconds (especially with cheese) and we usually have a 'dessert course' of some fresh fruit too. He is a small kid but a good eater!

My must-have items for quick meals include:
  • eggs (LS loves scrambled and hard-boiled most)
  • beans (I like Eden brand, no bpa in the cans!)
  • frozen peas / corn/ brussel sprouts (for when there are no fresh veggies on hand)
  • carrots (they store well. so I keep a giant bag of these in the fridge and cut them small or grate them for a fast saute)
  • avocados (LS loves them, they're green and don't need to be cooked- score!)
  • hummus / bean spread (LS actually prefers white bean)
  • cheese
  • sunflower seeds / sliced almonds (we throw these in with rice and pastas)
  • soba noodles / quinoa / rice (quinoa is the best because it's so fast)
  • bread (toast is an obsession)
  • fresh fruit (we go through it like crazy, I wish it wasn't so pricey or was easier to grow here!)
I'd love to hear your suggestions for quick and yummy foods that are toddler friendly. Do you bother sitting down for lunch or prefer to grab it on the fly? I'm sure our routine will continue to change as Little Smith gets older and our family grows, but I'm the type that will always require a pretty filling lunch... or maybe that's just this growing belly talking.


  1. I'd eat any of those lunches in a second! They look delicious.

    Alice is getting better with what she will and will not eat. Last night I got her to eat homemade pesto with elbow macaroni! I held my breath as she turned the noodle over and over in her hand before popping it in her mouth. Score!

    1. Thanks Briana, and it is so funny how fast their 'tastes' change. I feel like it gets better then worse, then better again but W wouldn't even eat pasta at one so you're ahead of the game :)

  2. so many good ideas! annies organic mac and cheese with peas is our friday lunch tradition:) other than that, yogurt, fruit, occasional leftover and chicken nugget make it on the scene. unfortunately, eggs are on the no list the past couple of months.

    1. I love Annie's mac and cheese too. When I was first pregnant and not feeling up to cooking we lived on it. Eggs have always been a favorite here, but yogurt used to be as well and that's off the list, so you never can tell! Thanks Jesse.

  3. So good to see such a variety & all looking so delicious! Thats the way you inspire a good eater! My kids always liked sweet red pepper slices & cucumbers too-- I've been racking my brain trying to remember what we gave them when they were small, and that is what is coming to mind!

  4. That brings back memories! My kids were big on avocado (not so much anymore though). I also gave them a lot of leftover soups and stews. It was all-consuming feeding them at the time yet I can hardly remember what I gave them now!

    Looks like great meals and I agree lunch is not the time to start cooking much! :)

  5. Yummmm, I know it's meant for toddlers but this is the way I like to eat my lunch. Lots of little bits to pick at on a plate!! My mum used to give us wholemeal soda bread with butter and marmite - deeeelicious. And grapes and blueberries. I used to like making them pop in my mouth (and still do).


  6. I really appreciated this post-- thanks! You've composed such attractive and nutritious lunches :-). We're vegetarian too, though my son is a year younger than LS so some of your crunchier options aren't yet in rotation here. Some of our quick convenience favorites are Dr. Praeger's spinach patties (microwaved) and 'lentil balls' (I mash cooked lentils with a fork and form little balls. This works great with Trader Joes French lentils so I usually keep a pack in the fridge.)

  7. You're doing a great job with those lunches - I would personally eat any one of those! Little S eats so well - that's awesome. My guys' preferred utensils are still their fingers!


  8. These look great. We're raising our own little veggie baby so I'll be keeping some of these ideas in mind. :)