It can be really hard to come up with inspiration for quick, easy lunches for yourself, let alone a toddler, too. Since Nora goes from zero to famished in 3.2 seconds (and I am sure she is not alone in that), I like to have something quick at my fingertips so we can maximize our play time, and minimize the amount of time I spend with a whiny toddler hanging on my legs as I try to put lunch together.
Here are some of my favorite lunch ideas, in case you’re in need of inspiration:
1. Mac and cheese. Cook some pasta (macaroni or whatever small pasta you have handy), mix it with shredded cheese, a little butter, and a splash of milk on the stovetop, and voila! Throw in some veggies (my favorites are broccoli or baby greens like spinach or kale), or serve some on the side for a complete meal.
2. PB&J. You can’t beat a good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a quick, easy, and cheap. Peanut butter is good protein, and kids love it on a sandwich with the extra sweetness of jelly. If you don’t like jelly, you can always do peanut butter and bananas or even nutella instead. Be sure to serve it on whole grain bread for added fiber and protein.
3. Grilled cheese. As long as we’re talking sandwiches, a grilled cheese is easy and tasty, too. Serve with fruit and veggies for munching on the side. Nora still prefers hers cut into bite-sized pieces, which she pulls apart and devours cheese-first.
4. Quesadilla. Along the same lines, a quesadilla is basically a grilled cheese with tortillas instead of bread. Easy-peasy, and you can sneak some extra veggies in, too!
5. Cottage cheese. I love cottage cheese and crackers for lunch, and guess what — so does Nora! She gobbles the stuff down with a spoon. It’s great protein, and you can either mix in some fruit (pineapples, anyone?) or serve fruit or veggies with it.
6. Yogurt with fruit and graham crackers. Nora eats YoToddler for lunch once every couple of days, because she loves it so much, and it’s so darn easy and healthy. Serve it with some berries or a peach, and add a graham cracker as “dessert,” and we’re in business!
7. Whatever you’re eating. This is my go-to lunch for Nora, actually. I often eat leftovers from dinner the night before for lunch, and save some extra for her. She loves eating what Mommy is eating, and it’s so much better not to have to fix two separate meals.
8. Edamame and rice. You can buy frozen, cooked edamame and reheat it in the microwave. Add some leftover rice, and it’s a lovely Asian-inspired lunch.
9. Cream cheese and black olive sandwich. This is another easy, favorite sandwich, and I love it, too! Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches are lovely, too. Add some fresh berries or baby carrots to munch on the side.
10. Hummus with carrots and pita. Oh, how I wish my child loved hummus like I do! It’s such a good, healthy protein, but she won’t touch the stuff. Maybe someday — I keep trying. If you are luckier, you can tempt your little one with hummus and carrot sticks and/or pita bread for dipping.
Please share your favorite quick lunch ideas in the comments. I can always use some new inspiration!