12 Lunch Ideas for Your One Year Old at Daycare

Are you having trouble fixing your one-year-old toddler’s lunch box for daycare? Can’t figure out what you want to pack, or what’s safe to pack?

It can be hard to think of a variety of healthy foods to put in a toddler’s packed lunch, especially when you consider choking hazards. Here are some easy toddler lunch ideas that will help your child stay healthy and full at daycare. 

Foods for Lunch with Fun Serving Suggestions!

Sweet Potato

A toddler’s lunch should be easy for them to eat, and soft sweet potatoes are great for that. They’re also very nutritious, being rich in vitamins A and C, which is perfect for your developing little ones.

If your child is used to puréed food, try mashing it up – you can even add things like beans, cheese, and bits of chicken as toppings. See what works best for your family!

Try this out:

  • Mashed sweet potato bowls topped with cheese, bits of chicken, veggies, or whatever you want!
  • Does your kid like potato tots? Try sweet potato tots!
  • You can even make sweet potato fries for fun finger food.

Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes are an excellent source of several different nutrients, including potassium and vitamin C. Making them into a yummy sauce gives you so many different lunch possibilities!

For example, you could try making homemade mini pizzas, or even make your little one some pasta for lunch. You could also pack some grilled cheese sandwiches to dip in the sauce. Like I said, lots of possibilities!

Try this out:

  • If you’re making sauce from home, try sneaking some veggies in.
  • Kids love pasta, so try mixing some tomato sauce with spaghetti!
  • Try putting some of this sauce on a bagel or a piece of bread, then add cheese. Mini pizzas!

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese can give your child a source of dairy for the day, along with some vitamin A. You could try spreading some on a few slices of bread or mini bagels, or even mix it up with mashed fruit. If you’re making cream cheese at home, try sneaking veggies into the mix.

Try this out:

  • There’s a lot of recipes out there for mini cream cheese balls – these are easy for toddlers to eat.
  • Add it as an ingredient in your child’s sandwich. It goes well with fruit and veggies.

Peanut Butter or Nut Free Alternatives

Creamy peanut butter or nut-free alternatives like sunflower butter are great for toddlers – they contain healthy fats, along with different nutrients such as vitamins B3, E, and manganese.

You can make a sandwich with it, spread it on a bagel, put it on crackers, serve it with apples, and much more. 

Try this out:

  • Find a recipe for mini peanut butter balls. These are a great, yummy snack that will keep kids energized!
  • Slice up some bananas and arrange them into little peanut butter sandwiches.

Snap Peas

Don’t assume that your toddler will turn away from anything green! Many kids like snap peas because of their crunchy texture and sweet taste, and parents love them because of their fiber and many useful nutrients.

They’re also easy-to-eat finger foods, which is suitable for a toddler that’s still learning their motor skills.

Try this out:

  • Be creative – arrange them into different shapes!
  • Include a few with lunch as a crunchy, teething treat.

Green Beans

Rich in necessary vitamins and fiber, green beans are a veggie that parents love to see their kids eat. They’re also a finger food that’s easy for little hands.

If your child doesn’t like plain green beans, try sprinkling panko crumbs on them to make crunchy french fries, or you can try adding a little parmesan cheese.

If your green beans came from a can, make sure they’re drained and rinsed to remove the extra sodium. 

Try this out:

  • You can also use parmesan to make green bean fries.
  • Green beans go well with potatoes and diced chicken, so try serving them together!

String Cheese

String cheese is another easy-to-eat snack that toddlers can eat with their hands. It’s also a good source of calcium and protein, which makes parents happy.

There’s no preparation involved at all; that is unless you want there to be. You can roll them up in deli meat, make kebabs, or even make it into a little octopus! 

Try this out:

  • Pack peanut butter and string cheese together for a protein-filled lunch.
  • Try cutting the cheese up into squares for little bite-sized finger foods!

Deli Meat

Kids could use some meat and protein in their diet, and easy-to-prepare deli meats are an excellent way to start. Sandwiches are a staple in lunch boxes, but there’s plenty of other ways to put meat in your toddler’s diet.

For example, you can mix it up with scrambled eggs, mac and cheese, or put it in a salad if your child would be willing to eat it. Do note that freshly cut meat straight from the deli is the healthiest option for your child since they don’t have as much sodium or additives.

Try this out:

  • Make some lunch meat wraps – fill them with cheese, veggies, or even cream cheese! 
  • Dice up the meat and serve it with crackers and cheese.
  • Add some deli ham to a mini homemade pizza for extra Hawaiian flair. 

Bell Peppers

Being high in vitamins A, C, and E, bell peppers are a surprisingly great choice for your toddler’s lunch box. Don’t worry.

Bell peppers won’t be too spicy for your little ones. Bell peppers don’t contain capsaicin, which is what makes most peppers hot.

There are several different ways to cut them up, or you can just clean out the seeds and stuff the pepper with whatever you want (cheese, meat, rice, etc.).

You can also puree it if your toddler’s still getting used to solid foods, or if they’d like a tasty dip for some of their other lunch items.

Try this out:

  • If you cut the peppers into strips for your child to dip into hummus.
  • Try slicing them into rings for an extra fun surprise

Apple Slices

Apple slices are a classic snack that many kids are happy to eat, and they’re a good source of vitamin C.

Whether baked, roasted or served as-is, apples are a healthy choice to pack in your little one’s lunch. You can serve them with cinnamon, yogurt, or peanut butter, or even add them to a mini salad – there’s a lot of different things you can do!

If your little eater is bothered by the apple slices turning brown, try soaking them in a lemon juice and water solution for a few minutes before you pack them.

Try this out:

  • Feel like doing a little baking? Cut the apples into fine chunks and make some homemade apple sauce!
  • You can also cut them up into different shapes – be creative!

Boiled Eggs

Eggs are an excellent choice for a healthy lunch, considering their high protein content. Boiling them instead of frying them means that they’re lower in fat as well.

After slicing them up, there’s plenty you can do with them – or you can just serve them as-is. Try adding them to a sandwich, using them to make funny faces, adding them to a salad, or even adding them to a homemade mini pizza!

There’s also a lot of fun ways to present regular boiled eggs; I’ve seen people decorate them as fish, and make them look like baby chicks.

Try this out:

  • Boiled eggs are tasty and soft food for your little one
  • Try making mini egg salad sandwiches

Bento Boxes

Need something that will hold all of this stuff? Bento boxes are durable and easy for kids to carry around when they’re away from home.

Also, if you’ve got a picky little one that doesn’t like it when different foods touch each other, bento boxes have separate compartments for each item – very handy!

There are all sorts of different designs and types of these Japanese-based lunch boxes, so see what works best for you and your toddler. 

Try this out:

  • Get one that’s durable and can handle being dropped.
  • Make sure it’s easy to open and close for your daycare helper. 
  • It helps if it has a reliable seal to keep it from leaking. 

Quick Answer

Since toddler food has to be safe for them to eat, it can be challenging to find a variety of things for them to try. It doesn’t help that kids are often picky eaters at this age, but letting them try different things will help them learn what they do and don’t like to eat.

Even if they only eat one little bite, they can still get something good out of the food they eat. Hopefully, these easy toddler lunches will help you get started in planning your little one’s diet.