30 Indian Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

Whether it's lunchbox for day care or preschool, most toddlers tend to bring the filled lunchbox as it is back. There's something about vegetables and fruits that might get on your toddler's nerves, refraining him from even looking at it. Amidst all this, finding the right Indian recipes for toddlers (12-18 months) to get them to eat their midday meal can be daunting.

As a parent, you constantly try to make a variety of healthy lunches for kids only to have them rejected by them. However, worry not; whether or not your little one has joined the picky eaters' club, here are 30 lunch ideas that will surely get him to finish up his lunchbox.

30 Healthy Toddler Lunch Ideas

Whether it's for a quick and easy lunch at home, or for a day care or preschool lunch box, get your creative juices flowing with these lunch ideas for toddlers. Check out the list of Indian lunch ideas for your toddler below.

1. Corn Palak sandwich:

This grilled cheese sandwich is easy to make with blanched spinach and boiled corn kernels combined in a flavoursome mixture of mayonnaise and herbed seasoning. Add in a whole fruit and a handful of smashed almonds and pistachios for accompaniment.

2. Mini paneer uthappam:

Top the soft and savoury uthappam with grated paneer, finely chopped carrots, onions, tomatoes, and coriander. Serve warm with some tangy ketchup and freshly diced carrot sticks.

3. Carrot rice:

Cook rice, peas, and freshly grated carrot with spices to make healthy and wholesome lunch. Add in some sliced cucumber as a side dish.

4. Healthy pancakes with sprouts salad:

Make tasty potato spinach pancakes and serve them with moong sprouts and corn salad.

5. Vegetable pasta with chikki:

Mix cooked elbow macaroni or any pasta of your baby's choice with boiled peas, corn diced carrots, and capsicum. Stir in some ketchup or pasta sauce that's not too spicy. Serve along with peanut chikki.

6. Palak thepla with jeera aaloo:

Make a colour-packed lunch for your baby by serving her with spinach puree-infused chapati. Make jeera aaloo or any vegetable your toddler loves to serve it as a side dish. Also, add in a peeled orange on the plate to complete the lunch.

7. Dal paratha with pineapple raita:

A popular dish from Rajasthan and Gujarat, it is made using whole wheat flour, dal and spices. Serve warm with pineapple raita.

8. Pineapple fried rice with fryums:

Stir fry rice with finely chopped veggies and pineapple. Serve warm with fryums.

9. Vermicelli upma and peanut sundal:

One of the popular South Indian breakfast dishes, vermicelli upma is easy to make. Quickly stir fry cooked vermicelli with a handful of boiled veggies and you're good to go. Serve some peanut sundal as a side dish.

10. Palak idli with peanut chutney:

It is one of the healthy, delicious and simple way to get your toddler to eating spinach. Mix pureed spinach with the idli batter and steam like you would for regular idlis. Serve with peanut chutney and pineapple pieces.

11. Avocado paratha:

Knead whole wheat flour with avocado pulp and spices. Make round rotis and cook. This is a healthy recipe and requires minimum oil. Serve with beetroot kurma and some pretzels.

12. Lemon idli with yoghurt:

Mix some lemon juice and lemon zest in the idli batter and cook as usual. Serve with yoghurt and some fresh strawberries.

13. Tomato rice and carrot raita:

Cook rice with vegetables in tomato puree and spices. Serve warm with carrot raita. This is a tasty yet super easy way to get your toddler to eating vegetables.

14. Paneer fried rice:

Stir fry cooked rice and fried paneer along with your toddler's favourite vegetables. Serve with mixed smashed dry fruits and biscuits.

15. Mixed vegetable paratha and boondi raita:

Knead whole wheat flour with finely chopped or grated veggies and roll out small rotis. Cook and serve with delicious boondi raita.

16. Chole and jeera rice:

Prepare chole that is less spicy and stir fry some rice with cumin seeds, chopped coriander in half a spoon of butter. Serve with cucumber-carrot salad.

17. Corn spinach rice with yoghurt:

It is one of the simplest recipes that'll help your toddler to eat spinach without any fuss. Cook rice in pureed spinach and corn kernels. Serve with plain yoghurt.

18. Methi thepla with pomegranate salad:

Knead whole wheat flour with finely chopped fenugreek leaves. Roll out rotis and cook. Serve along with sprouts and pomegranate salad and a handful of dates.

19. Mixed vegetable paniyaram with onion chutney:

Mix finely chopped vegetables in idli or paniyaram batter, pour in the paniyaram plate and steam as usual. Serve with onion chutney or ketchup.

20. Moringa paratha with aaloo gobi:

Knead whole wheat flour with finely chopped drumstick or moringa leaves and make rotis out of it. Serve warm with aaloo gobi.

21. Capsicum rice with raita:

Stir fry cooked rice with diced carrots and capsicum and spices. Serve warm with plain yoghurt or boondi raita.

22. Coconut rice with masala corn:

Stir fry cooked rice with desiccated coconut, cashews, and raisins in spices. Serve warm with fried masala corn (boiled).

23. Beetroot rice with yoghurt:

Cook rice and peas in beetroot puree and spices. Serve warm with plain yoghurt and some cherries and date and nuts laddoo in the side. This recipe is packed with nutrients and taste.

24. Flaxseed roti with beetroot-chickpea stir fry:

Knead flaxseed meal and whole wheat flour to make rotis. Stir fry beetroot and boiled chickpeas in spices. Serve with some grapes on the side.

25. Paneer bhurji and carrom seeds paratha:

Knead whole wheat flour and add carrom seeds (ajwain) to it, make rotis and cook. Stir fry crushed paneer in spices to make bhurji. Serve warm with cucumber-carrot salad.

26. Creamy spinach pasta with caramel makhana:

Cook pasta in pureed spinach and cheese. Serve warm with makhana stirred in caramel sauce.

27. Broccoli paratha with boondi raita:

Knead whole wheat flour with finely chopped broccoli and crushed paneer. Make parathas and cook. Serve warm with boondi raita and fryums.

28. Mushroom biryani with yoghurt:

Cook rice with diced mushroom and spices to make delicious and less spicy biryani. Serve with plain yoghurt, cucumber slices and besan laddoo.

29. Chapati noodles with makhana raita:

Chop cooked chapatis into thin strips. Stir fry them with spices and your toddler's favourite vegetables. Serve warm with makhana raita and pomegranate kernels.

30. Rajma chawal with chia seeds pudding:

Mix cooked rice and beans and stir fry them in spices. Serve warm with yoghurt or chia seeds pudding.

What are the best tips for Planning Toddler's Lunches?

Here are some tips for planning your toddler's lunches and for dealing with certain concerns that may pop up during mealtime:

How to find the Right Nutritional Balance?

While preparing tiffin recipes for toddlers, try adding a variety of nutritious foods from the basic food groups that include:

  • Protein - Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs

  • Dairy - Milk, cheese, and yoghurt

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Whole-grain cereal, bread, pasta, potatoes and rice.

It is absolutely alright if a particular lunch doesn’t happen to include all the food groups, or if your toddler doesn't eat every type of food you've served. Continue to offer him a choice of nutritious foods with varying tastes and textures at mealtimes and snacks. As your child continues to grow, his diet will balance out over the course of the day and week. Read more about how to get kids to eat vegetables

Determining How Much Food Is Enough

The amount a toddler eats varies from meal to meal and day to day. If your child is growing and gaining weight, chances are she's eating enough. Children of this age are quite good at making sure they get what they need and don’t overeat.

Some typical serving sizes for a one- to three-year-old include: one-fourth to half a slice of bread, two tablespoons of meat, two-three tablespoons of beans, one-two tablespoons of vegetable, one-two tablespoons of fruit.

In fact, your toddler may need less food than you might think. Roughly 1,000 calories a day is about right. That's not a lot when you consider that your child might consume 300 to 450 of those daily calories in cow's milk (about 470 to 700 ml) after he turns one.

All in all, your toddler will get the right number of calories if you offer him three nutritious meals a day, along with about three sit-down healthy snacks.

If you're concerned about your toddler's eating habits and/or growth, talk to his paediatrician, who will be tracking his progress, and can offer specific advice tailored to his needs.

Surrendering to Your Toddler's Mealtime Choices

At this age, your toddler should be allowed to make as many decisions as he reasonably can—including what he wants to eat. Offer him a range of nutritious foods to choose from and let him take it from there. Read more about toddler choosing their own food and toddler nutrition.

Your toddler's needs will vary according to his growth rate, activity levels, and metabolism, so don’t worry if one day he eats everything in sight, and the next day he's pickier than ever before.

He doesn't need mushy baby foods anymore. In fact, if you give him foods with some texture to chew and swallow, his oral skills will improve, and his tastes will broaden.

A toddler's appetite and growth tend to level off in the second year, so he won't need as much as he used to. Let him choose his own food from what the whole family is eating but skip any added salt or spices.

How to Deal with Picky Eaters

When your toddler doesn't want to eat anything or refuses to eat anything other than a specific food, mealtimes can feel like a tug-of-war on such days. You will encounter many moments like these, and it doesn’t mean that your toddler won't eat a balanced diet ever again. This picky-eating phase is quite normal in toddlerhood.

Avoid pushing the subject of eating or trying to force any particular food when such a phase occurs, as it may make things worse. Try offering him different varieties of foods, let him choose what appeals to him in that moment and allow him to try new foods at his own pace. Read more about what to do if your toddler is a fussy eater.

Avoiding Food Bribes

It’s a good idea to avoid using food bribery during mealtime, like promising a reward such as sweets if he eats broccoli, and to avoid making comparisons with siblings, such as by saying, "Look at your big brother; he loves his vegetables."

These tactics can lead to future eating problems. Making mealtime a casual, relaxed, social time is the best way to help your child pick up good eating habits and acquire a healthy attitude toward food and nutrition. Read about how to get your child to try new foods

Frequently Asked Questions

  • An easy lunch option for a toddler can include a half sandwich of chicken, tuna salad, egg salad, or even peanut butter. Serve with a half cup of steamed green vegetables, like green beans. Finish with a half cup of berries or a small low-fat oatmeal cookie. Your toddler can wash it all down with a half cup of whole or 2 percent milk.

  • If your toddler wants to eat an egg every day, then yes (unless there's a specific reason your healthcare provider recommends otherwise). Some toddlers go through phases where they eat the same foods for a period. Just keep offering him a variety of different foods, including ones he may have refused in the past, until he decides to try something new. But until then it’s OK if he reaches for the same foods every day.

  • There are certain foods that are considered unsafe for toddlers because they can be a choking hazard. You shouldn't feed your toddler the following foods:

    • Chunks of peanut butter
    • Chunks of meat, potatoes, raw vegetables, or fruit
    • Nuts, particularly peanuts
    • Raw cherries with their pits
    • Round, hard candies, including jellybeans
    • Chewing gum
    • Whole grapes
    • Whole cherry tomatoes
    • Marshmallows
    • Raw carrots, celery, or green beans
    • Popcorn
    • Seeds like pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Your toddler needs foods from the basic nutrition groups: protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and carbohydrates. This last category includes popular foods like cereal, bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta. So, no, pasta is not bad for toddlers as long as it's in moderation.

The Bottom Line

Planning your toddler's lunch will no longer feel like an overwhelming task. You can now make it relatively simple and even fun. At times your toddler may not want to eat at all, or only wants to eat one type of food, or seems to refuse anything green, or even a food that he loved just yesterday – it's alright! This is all a part of his toddlerhood. Eventually, this picky-eating phase will pass, and he will become more adventurous eater as he continues to grow. Continue to offer him a variety of tasty foods and let him choose and determine what he wants to try.

Remember, preparing your toddler's lunch doesn’t have to mean double the cooking. It can be so that your family might also enjoy the ideas on your list. So, try cooking up a big batch and get everyone's meals ready in one go.

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