Sometimes, I post pictures of Anneliese’s lunches on Instagram and twitter, and I usually get a lot of comments like:

  • “Wow, that looks great!”
  • “Will you be my mom?”
  • “Yum! I want to eat that.”
  • “Does she really eat all of that stuff?”

Let me respond.

  • That’s because it IS great!
  • Um… don’t hate me, but no. But I will show you how to make some kick-ass lunches.
  • You should! Break out the shopping list!
  • Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. But it’s an option for her, and she usually eats some of everything even if she doesn’t finish it all. For things I know she isn’t a fan of (tomatoes, for example), I’ll give her just a little bit to taste. I keep offering, and sometimes she changes her mind about things. Like the other day, when she ate avocado slices. She NEVER liked them before, and I’ve offered them to her lots of times. Or the time when she stole half of my salad after I offered her a bite, because suddenly she loved it. She had no interest in lettuce (no matter what was in or on it) before that, but I kept offering it.

tiny tummies

So Tiny Tummies will be an occasional feature here on Joyful Abode. I don’t know if it’ll be every week, but when I have a few lunches rounded up, or a good recipe to share, I’ll do a post. You can always find them when you need some inspiration by clicking on the Tiny Tummies button in the sidebar.

And even if you already follow me on instagram or twitter and have seen some of these before, hopefully it’s helpful to have them all in one place for reference.

Sometimes these lunches are big. Sometimes they’re little. It depends on Anneliese’s appetite that day. I might include Joey’s lunches when he is eating a bit more, too. Sometimes they might not seem balanced, but I go for all-day balance… so if she ate nothing but fruit for breakfast, I’ll try to make her lunch pretty protein-heavy. So don’t take these out of context, and use your judgment when deciding what to put together for your Tiny Tummies.

Also, now and then there might be a “less healthy” food. Because we are human and certainly not perfect.

Usually these lunches are simple foods, not fancy recipes, rarely “bento-fied” or kawaii. But I do try to arrange them in a pleasing way, because we all like food that looks good better than food that looks like cafeteria slop. Toddlers included.

So are you ready for some toddler lunch ideas?

Toddler Lunch 1

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  • Cheddar cheese
  • Apples, peeled because they’re not organic, and cut up
  • Raisins
  • Sliced kiwi
  • chicken breast (leftover from dinner the day before) with lemon pepper
  • baby carrots, cut lengthwise to make them like “fries”

Toddler Lunch 2

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  • Full-fat plain yogurt with frozen blueberries
  • Celery sticks with cream cheese and pecans
  • Homemade applesauce, warmed up a little
  • Half of a banana “to hold” (Anneliese asks “Hold banana?” when she doesn’t want it sliced, and wants to peel it herself.)

Toddler Lunch 3

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  • Hummus with carrot sticks
  • Celery with almond butter
  • A “less bad” hot dog, cut up (I read all the packages and picked the one that sounded the least awful)
  • Raspberries

Toddler Lunch 4

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  • Half of a banana “to hold”
  • Deli roast beef
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Grapes

Toddler Lunch 5

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  • Chicken breast with lemon pepper
  • Mashed sweet potato with butter
  • Steamed green beans and carrots with butter

Toddler Lunch 6 – “Number 4” Theme

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Sometimes it’s fun to have a “theme” for lunches… like a certain number, color, shape, and so forth. So this one is 4.

  • 4 pieces of celery
  • 4 raisins
  • 4 sugar snap peas
  • 4 pieces of watermelon
  • 4 slices of cheddar cheese

Are you excited about more Tiny Tummies posts?

Is there anything in particular you’re wondering about the way we do lunches? Do you have questions about any aspects of lunch-prep? What are you hoping to see in Tiny Tummies?

Just let me know in a comment below!

And be sure to pin/tweet/share this post to save it for future reference, and to share with other parents!

36 Comments on Introducing Tiny Tummies! Healthy Lunches for Happy Kids

  1. Victoria says:

    Not trying to be rude, just helpful…in both pictures with bananas they were not ripe. Unripe bananas can cause constipation, upset tummy, and are nowhere near as delicious as a ripe banana. Make sure you give your kiddos (and yourself!) Nice yellow bananas with lots of brown spots on them. 🙂 their tummies and taste buds will thank you!

  2. HEather says:

    I love this! I am currently looking for healthier options for my son that just turned 2! I’m trying out different things this week! The good news is that he always wants to eat our salads!! I really want to give him healthy options as a little guy! Thank you so much for sharing your lunches! How old is your little one?! I look forward to more healthy meal options!! 😊

  3. Maria says:

    Everything looks delicious! Thank you for the great ideas!!! My toddler is only 15 months and I send his lunches with him to daycare where he doesn’t get as much assistance with eating as he does at home. I don’t know how old your daughter is, but do you chop her food up smaller for her before giving it to her? Or do you let her eat it as shown here? I saw you said she likes to peel the banana so I’m guessing she is much older than my little guy.

    • You’re so welcome! My daughter is 3.5 now, and my son is almost 2. Everything shown on the Tiny Tummies posts is how I presented it to the kids. This post is from over a year ago, so my daughter would’ve been 2 years old at the time. But even when she was younger, I often gave her larger chunks of food she could pick up and bite (not small enough to shove the whole thing in her mouth and choke, but large enough to need to bite).

  4. Mandy mistler says:

    My son is allergic to dairy producys . Do you have any meal ideas. He is 18 months.

  5. MARIA KROU says:

    GREAT IDEAS

  6. Virginia says:

    Thanks so much for Tiny Tummies. I’m starting Nutrisystem in the next few days, so I’ve been looking for ideas on healthy balanced choices for my little guy’s meals. This looks really close to what I do already, but it’s nice to get some inspiration on how I could change things up. You’re awesome mama!

  7. Nicole says:

    As a mama of a picky 2 year old I am looking forward to tiny tummies! I see that you do some shredded chicken. I do too but have trouble serving it. I usually make a couple of breasts for her in the beginning of the week and by the end of the week what I’m fixing for her usually looks dried up. Do you cook the chicken daily or prepare ahead of time?

    • If I do a whole chicken or pick up a rotisserie chicken, we’ll usually eat the breasts first because white meat tends to get drier faster than the dark meat. If I cook a few breasts for the week though, some melted butter sure helps to revive it after the first few days. 😉 Rip it up and then warm it with a bit of butter, and it’s so tasty and juicy.

  8. Dallas says:

    Yum! These look delicious. And even like something I would enjoy for lunch too. I tend to think of lunches as sandwiches (which my 2 year old picks apart) or leftovers from dinner (mixed together foods with sauces), but these look so fresh and simple and still fulfilling. I look forward to more posts like these.

  9. Chani-Claire says:

    Zeki has just started enjoying lettuce. He’ll cram fistfulls in his mouth and say “mmm…bwoccoli!”. uh, that’s not broccoli but I’m glad your eating it. Since we did BLW with Z starting at 6 months and he’s a pretty proficent eater and well, willing to try anything before he rules it out its exciting to load up a plate full of pretty food and watch him dive in. Without even really thinking about it I’ve been copying your style of setting his plate for a while. its fun to post pictures of his food and impress others!

  10. I would definitely be interested in Joey meals! Our LO is just a few months behind him in age so I am interested to see what kind of foods you introduce him to as well as your adventures in BLW! Tiny Tummies – too cute 🙂

  11. Nic says:

    Fantastic idea!!! Thanks so much already for all the tips. My family and I are in the process of Changing our diet to mostly ‘clean’ eating, so these will be great for Millie. I love the themed idea as well. I really think Millie will get a kick out of that. Thanks again!!

  12. Jenn says:

    Thanks for the ideas, we are at a loss as to what to feed our 2 year old. He will not touch animal protein or cheese. I would love for him to try, he touches it and puts it down without trying. Ahh… Difficult! We will try your ideas and I love the slow cooker and freezer blogs, your great !

    • You’re welcome. Just keep trying! Sometimes when Anneliese doesn’t want to try something, if I take a couple of bites off of her plate and really look like I’m enjoying them (real enjoyment, not fake hyperbolic enjoyment… kids can tell) then she’s like “OMG that’s for ME to eat!” and will take a couple of bites. haha.

  13. Ellen says:

    Yum! Many of these look like my adult lunches 🙂 Just with more fruit. We go for fast and simple lunches to save time. Today is a stack of salami, leftover seasoned chicken breast, assorted raw veggies (broccoli, carrots, mini peppers and grape tomatoes) with full fat sour cream dip (just added a dried onion powder and chives blend to sour cream). Thanks for the additional ideas! Since we have no kids yet I can use these ideas for us grown-ups 🙂

  14. Anna says:

    These are great ideas. They don’t take long at all.
    Homemade applesauce with cinnamon and a plum or two (baked) is the best. Our 2yr old also loves baked sweet potato chips with cinnamon or garlic salt. I make a chocolate pudding by putting a banana, avocado, chocolate almond milk and cocoa in a blender. Yummy.

  15. Melissa Elsholz says:

    How closely do you monitor salt intake? (ie. The red meat, hotdog, hummus, cheese, etc.) It seems like some of these foods are quite salty. Aside from that, we do similar things, which is reassuring to see! Thanks!

  16. Melissa Elsholz says:

    How closely do you monitor salt intake? (ie. The red meat, hotdog, hummus, etc.) It seems like some of these foods are quite salty. Aside from that, we do similar things, which is reassuring to see! Thanks!

    • I really don’t … if there is something really salty like pepperoni or bacon or something, I just make sure she gets more of other stuff in the rest of the day. Like I said, don’t take it out of context.

      But salty hummus? What kind of hummus do you eat? And “red meat” isn’t salty by nature. It depends on how it’s prepared. Meat is meat. Sure, deli meat has more salt than some other options, but it’s a heck of a lot better than packaged frozen chicken nuggets, fast food burgers, and so forth.

      Also, Anneliese has free rein when it comes to water. She can get her cups and work the water cooler, so if she is thirstier she can drink more and flush out excess salt.

      I’d personally be more concerned about lots of sugar… how many parents rely on (sweetened)peanut butter and sugary jelly sandwiches on regular bread? Low fat “kid yogurt” with lots of sugar in it (even if it’s “cane juice” it’s sugar), juice, jello, and so forth.

      But everyone chooses their “battles.” Salt isn’t one of mine.

      • Melissa Elsholz says:

        I guess it would be helpful to know your context, I wondered how often you offered foods higher in salt. I think it does matter. Cheese is quite salty, as is hummus (one of the few ingredients that make up hummus is salt), as is most any processed meat.

        We don’t do fast food in our home, or overly-sugary foods, either. (I haven’t had peanut butter or jelly in my pantry for the better part of a year.) I – and most moms I know – monitor food intake quite closely. Most of us pureed our own.

        Have you ever noticed that even store-made processed stuff is SUPER low in sodium? I guess if it wasn’t an issue, than this wouldn’t be so. I’ve never fed it to my babe, but it is pretty disgusting!

        • Everyone seems to have their own “issues” with food that they feel are important.

          These posts aren’t meant to be a “you should do this” guide to feeding your kids. They’re more of a “maybe you’ll find inspiration in this” type of deal.

          Take what you like, ignore the rest. I’m not a pediatric nutritionist or anything. I feed my kids in what I feel is a healthy way, with a little bit of breathing room for a few “less healthy” things. I have too much going on to be neurotic about every single issue.

  17. Lynn says:

    How do you have time? That’s a serious question.

    • What do you usually do for lunches?
      Also a serious question…not trying to be a smart-ass.
      What about lunch prep makes you feel frantic or lost? Maybe if you give me more insight I can write some tips to help you in the next post!

      • Lynn says:

        I do good if I can get a sandwich thrown together, honestly! It seems like I always have laundry waiting or kids waiting (an almost-5-year-old and a 9 month old) or dishes are in the way or *something*. If I make a fancier lunch, it’s cut up fruit and a sandwich, haha.

        I read your blog and you’re such an inspiration but I feel like I am a thousand miles away from being anywhere near what you manage to accomplish in a day.

  18. Marsha says:

    They’re so cute! I go back and forth between providing options and just giving my 2 year old one thing at a time. I find that she will eat her favorites and leave everything else. But if I give her the same things she left again separately she gladly eats it.

    • Thanks!
      And that’s a good point. Different “delivery systems” or contexts can make the same food more or less appealing to a little one. Hard to know what’s going on in their brains!

  19. Apple says:

    I would love to see more toddler meals in general. I am usually at a loss as to what to feed J2 from day to day. I feel like he gets tired of what I give him and I need some new ideas. Tiny Tummies posts are just what I need right now! 🙂

    • Thanks Apple! I’m glad you’re looking forward to seeing more.
      What do you usually give J2 for lunches?

      • Apple says:

        Usually it’s just the leftovers we had from the night before. He tends to not eat them unless I am eating the exact same thing too (and I don’t like leftovers either). I am trying to cook smaller amounts so there are less leftovers, but that’s difficult for me for some reason.

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