When Picky Toddlers Become Hangry!

Kelsey Lasher

Toddlers have an extremely discerning palate, one that rivals those of the fiercest food critics. OK, maybe that’s a nice way of stating that our little ones are “picky eaters,” but however we dress it up, it’s hard to deny the struggle that comes when picky toddlers becomes hangry! Here are a few lunchtime options that are sure to please your fierce little foodies.  


Whether it’s macaroni and cheese, ravioli or leftover spaghetti from the night before, pasta is a wonderful option for lunch this winter. It’s easy to hide a few more nutritious options in the sauce (think pureed veggies, meat or calcium via cheesy goodness). Or, if your child refuses sauce, try buttering some whole wheat pasta. If your little ones eat lunch at school or day care, pack them some pasta in a thermos and let them enjoy this warm option hours later. This is a filling, delicious and quick option that is sure to please.  


Melt whatever cheese you like between a whole grain tortilla and watch your little ones gobble it up. You might even let them experiment with some mild salsa, avocado or sour cream to broaden their horizons and pack a more nutritious punch.  


The sandwich is one of the most tried and true lunch options, and, hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? There’s the grilled cheese, turkey and cheddar, peanut butter and jelly and the list goes on. If your little one is peanut-free or eats lunch in a peanut-free environment, sub out the peanut butter for SunButter. Cut the sandwich into any fun shape you like (triangle, square, heart, circle or order a fun sandwich cutter online) and serve with whatever fruits and veggies they like. 

Breakfast For Lunch:

If your toddler enjoys breakfast food, then try leaning into some of the more filling and nutritious options a morning meal offers at lunchtime. Eggs, bacon, fruit, yogurt or even whole wheat pancakes are perfect for a midday refresh. These protein-packed foods are tasty, warm, filling and quick to prepare. Whether you’re serving it at home or sending it in a lunch box, breakfast for lunch is a great winter option.  


This delicious dip is an excellent source of protein and an easy option to make veggies or grains a little more enticing. Some great dippers include bell peppers and pita chips. Serve with a cheese stick or fruit to pack even more food groups into this yummy lunch.   

Whether your toddlers are picky eaters or they gobble up whatever is placed in front of them, we hope that these ideas make your midday hustle a little more manageable. Know that with every meal you place in front of your kids, you are showing them your love in a tangible way. You are feeding their hungry bellies, yes, but you are also feeding their hungry hearts with everything you do to nurture and care for them. You’re doing great, Mama! 

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