Moms, are you in a lunch rut with your toddlers? Sometimes I feel like I’m on autopilot for the kids’ mid-day meal, and it can be hard to come up with new or different ideas in a pinch. When your kids are hungry and cranky, don’t grab the mac and cheese today. Instead, try one of these options. You might find your little one’s new favorite meal!
Pesto Pasta Wheels: This is my boys’ absolute favorite lunch. I like to use mini rotelle (wagon wheels), which are the perfect size and shape for little fingers. Just boil the pasta, drain, and stir in a spoonful of prepared pesto. Add cottage cheese (for protein and creaminess), as well as some peas, if desired. I often make this in advance, refrigerate, and then microwave to reheat when the boys get hungry.
Grilled Cheese Pizza Sandwiches: A little twist on the classic grilled cheese – spread marinara sauce on bread, top with a slice of provolone or grated mozzarella, a dash of grated Parmesan, and an additional slice of bread on top. Spread butter on the outside of the sandwich and toast in a skillet or on a griddle for a few minutes per side (until cheese is melted).
Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups: I hadn’t thought to serve deli meat this way, but for the child that has trouble with a sandwich, try making roll-ups instead. My nephew loves to eat these for lunch! Just place a slice of cheese on top of a piece of turkey and roll up. Let your child hold the turkey “stick” and take bites on his own. Serve with applesauce (or other fruit) and crackers.
Sweet Potato and Cheese Quesadillas: Add some veggies to your child’s lunch by spreading a thin layer of mashed sweet potato (or pumpkin) on half of a tortilla. Top with grated cheddar cheese, fold over, and toast in a skillet for a few minutes per side (until cheese is melted). Slice into triangles and let your child dip quesadillas in mild taco sauce or guacamole. Serve with chunks of avocado on the side.
Soft Pretzel with Cheese or Yogurt: It doesn’t always have to be a sandwich or pasta! My boys love the soft pretzels that I can buy in the freezer section at the grocery store. I just microwave for about 30 seconds and they’re ready to go. Serve with cheese cubes or yogurt for calcium and protein, as well as fruits and veggies. Frozen chopped or sliced carrots (that can be quickly microwaved), frozen peas, or frozen corn are all popular choices. Add some diced peaches, peeled apple slices, or banana on the side.
Do you have more ideas? I’d love to hear what you’re feeding your kids at lunchtime too!