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Jan 5, 2013 06:41 AM

Beyond Spinach Nuggets and Zucchini Tots - what else for a toddler's lunchbox

When packing food for my 2 year old, I need to provide her a lunch, snack and "dinner". Since we do dinner at home around 7, the 5:00 dinner at daycare I use a second snack and try to make it a veggie based snack so that if she doesn't eat her dinner, there's been some nutrition. (Her lunch is pretty balanced, and her snack is usually fruit and crackers or fruit and cheese). We do spinach nuggets, hummus and raw veggies or zucchini tots, but after a year I think she's getting bored of these options, as she's not eating them much anymore.

Any other suggestions for a vegetable based packable snack? Whatever I do I like to make a huge batch of and freeze for distribution over the week or two.

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  1. I just bookmarked this recipe for my grandson who is only 5 months but I'm getting ready :)

    1. A few things my kids liked at that age were falafel balls, little squares of crustless quiche, and chickpeas. At first, I just seasoned the chickpeas a bit with S&P, then started roasting them with sweet paprika, tumeric, whatever, as they got used to spices. And applesauce! I have a batch going in my crockpot today as my now-teens still very much like it for meals or snacks.

      1. This site has a lot of suggestions for feeding toddlers with lunch boxes. You can ignore the fancier bento part, although there are useful ideas for keeping foods apart.

        1. I would seriously like your recipe for spinach nuggets and zucchini tots! Grownups like veggie snacks, too.

          What's your 2-year-old's choke parameters? If she's eating raw veg with hummus, I'm assuming she's able to chew and swallow without your supervision.

          I've seen a lot of vegetable cookie and breakfast cookie recipes on line (for an unrelated search to your question) some without any sugar.

          Get back to us.

          6 Replies
          1. re: nemo

            Some of son's favorite snacks at that age were many you already mentioned but also these. Some need to be made fresh, other can be made in advance and then frozen or stored.

            -banana and nut butter roll ups: spread ww pita or wrap with nut butter, place whole banana length wise, roll up and slice. If nut butters are an issue sunflower butter is good too.

            -shelled edamame

            -I would make hummus and add in a variety of cooked veggies before pureeing-edamame, spinach, broccoli, kale, artichoke hearts even raw avacado

            -guacamole with chips, cracker or veggies for dipping

            -Salsa with thin wedges of baked potatoes for dipping

            -hardboiled eggs, deviled eggs

            -sugar snap peas with creamy parmesan dressing for dipping

            -Roasted chick peas-drain/rinse and toss with olive oil and whatever seasoning she likes (cumin, s&p, chili powder, etc) and roast until crispy. These keep well in an airtight container.

            -smoothies made with yogurt, fruit and lots of dark leafy greens-kale, spinach, chard, etc

            -mini ww bagels with cream cheese and/or fruit butters

            -cold slices of crustless veggie quiche or frittatas

            -Homemade ww and flax waffles. I would send along homemade "nutella" or apple sauce for dipping. I still make huge batches once a month as they freeze beautifully.

            -pumpkin/sweet potato pancakes with apple sauce for dipping. Again I still make huge batches since they freeze so well.

            -popcorn tossed with nutritional yeast

            -dried fruits with yogurt dip

            -chocolate covered strawberries

            -Apple slices tossed with lemon juice and a vanilla honey yogurt dip.

            1. re: foodieX2

              In addition to the PB roll-ups, you can do cream cheese and veggie roll-ups along these lines


            2. re: nemo

              The zucchini tots are pretty addictive (I always wind up eating half of them too).


              The spinach nuggets are even easier - store bought. The brand is VeggiePatch, and I found them in the produce aisle with the tofu. (They do a broccoli and cheese nugget too, but for some reason those are harder to find).

              1. re: mickeygee

                Thanks for the recipe, Mickey! I bet you could sub out finely chopped broccoli for the zucchini (maybe sauteed a bit) and make your own VeggiePatch brocc nuggets since they're hard to find and there's cheese in the tots recipe already. If that works, then that opens it up to other veggies, like drained tomatoes, cooked carrots, cooked cauliflower, roasted red peppers. Whatever chowpup likes.

                1. re: nemo

                  Food bridge blog makes Kurdish carrot fritters which I think you could easily bake. I dip mine in plain Greek yogurt.

                2. re: mickeygee

                  Those zucchini tots are awesome; my 3.5 y/o will happily eat them, too. If you feel like changing up the spinach nuggets, here's a variation on that theme that my daughter has been eating as long as she could eat. They freeze beautifully and are good warm or cold. I use pretty much any cheese I have in the fridge.


                  Another thing my kiddo likes: grape tomatoes chopped in half or sliced cucumber mixed with ranch dressing. I give her that in her lunch about once a week. It rarely comes home.

              2. Baked tortilla chips and salsa
                Celery and peanut butter
                Pumpkin, carrot, or sweet potato muffins

                2 Replies
                1. re: Tara57

                  probably not allowed to bring peanut butter to daycare due to allergy issues, but almond, cashew, soynut or sunny butter are great too.

                  1. re: Tara57

                    Weelicious has great muffin recipes. We love the berry muffins.