If you find yourself packing peanut butter and jelly all the time, here are some EASY, healthy sandwich ideas for your toddler or older child that will not only help invite variety but keep them excited for their lunch.
We all get stuck in a sandwich rut at some point, so I put together this list of fun sandwich fillings for babies and kids that can easily be packed for daycare and preschool or enjoyed at home.
Tips for making the best sandwiches for toddlers and kids
- Here’s a simple formula for building a well-balanced lunch box
- Since bread is generally liked by toddlers it can be a really great way to encourage them to try a variety of foods.
- You can easily make the sandwiches the morning of as all of these ideas are super simple and quick to whip up. But you can make them the night before, if you prefer. For those that require specific instructions, they’re provided within the categories below
- If you haven’t tried any of these ingredients, flavors, combinations, etc., try them at home first. Opening up a lunchbox with new foods can be a really intimidating experience for your child.
- Your child may not like these sandwiches at first but repeated exposure helps!
- Do be sure to include something in the lunch box that your child loves and feels safe around. Not only will it ensure that there’s something your child will most likely eat but it may encourage them to try the other foods they’re unsure about.
- Mix up breads. Opt for whole grains as much as possible for that extra fiber!
For babies serve as toasts!
How much to pack
It really depends on your child! For us, I noticed that when I pack my son a full sandwich (with two slices of bread), the other foods return home untouched. He told me he’s too full by the time he finishes his sandwich. While I try to pack in as much nutrition into his sandwiches as possible, I also want him to enjoy more variety.
Through experimentation, I’ve learned that one slice of bread is plenty so that’s what you see pictured here. I spread the fillings onto the bread, slice in half, place the halves on top of each other, and then slice into thirds. You don’t have to do this, but my son really enjoys “tea sandwiches” ;).
And please use these examples as inspiration NOT comparison. These are actual lunches I packed for my 4 year old son, who has a pretty hearty appetite.
Also, it looks like a lot of food in pictures but keep in mind, the lunchbox is pretty small. What’s most important is to follow your child’s lead. If a lot of food comes back uneaten, then pack less. If your child tells you they’re hungry when they get home, pack more!
Our Favorite Lunch Box
We’ve been using this lunch box for 2 years now and absolutely love it! The fun colors and the different compartments really pique my son’s interest. And I love that there’s a separate compartment for dips so that I don’t have to include a separate container. One less thing to wash!
Note that a whole sandwich with two slices of bread will NOT fit in the lunch box pictured here. If you want to pack a full on, then consider their panino insert. You don’t need to buy a completely new container. I’ll be ordering one soon as well.
Easy and healthy sandwich ideas for toddlers
I’ve broken the sandwiches down to four main categories. You don’t really have to measure anything. These are mainly no recipe concoctions in that you can add more or less of an ingredient depending on your preference.
Peanut/Nut/Seed Butter-Based Sandwich fillings
My son’s school allows peanut butter as it’s a small establishment and there are no students with allergies, but if your school is peanut-free then swap with any nut butter.
If completely nut-free, then use sunflower or pumpkin seed butter.
1. Peanut butter, mashed chickpeas and banana sandwich + mangoes + tomatoes + cucumber + garlic and herb crackers + cream cheese
Mash chickpeas first (I use canned for convenience). I prefer to keep them chunky. then combine with mashed banana and peanut butter
2. Banana pb hemp seed roll ups + frozen edamame + raw zucchini and orange bell pepper + beet hummus + apple
Spread a layer of peanut butter on top of tortilla. Sprinkle some hemp seeds. A note about edamame – Add straight from the freezer as it will help keep food cold. It will thaw by lunch time.
3. Pb and butternut squash sandwich + hard boiled egg + raspberries + broccoli + korean biscuit
Mash cooked butternut squash and combine with peanut butter and cinnamon
4. Almond butter, grated carrots and zucchini roll ups + chestnuts (packaged) + tofu + cheese + pineapple
Cream Cheese-Based sandwich fillings
1.Butternut squash and cream cheese sandwich + carrot and cucumber sticks + raspberries + frozen edamame
Roasting a whole butternut squash is easy and keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can certainly slice and add to lunchboxes or you can mash and enjoy as a sandwich filling like you see here!
2. Broccoli cream cheese sandwich + apple + peas and corn + salmon quiche + almonds
My son loves cream cheese. Broccoli is a hit or miss. But I continue to play the exposure game hard. Simply shave off the ends of the broccoli (can be raw or cooked) tops with a knife. And just like that you have broccoli sprinkles! Combine with cream cheese and garlic powder (or whatever seasoning you wish).
3. Ricotta and strawberries on Hawaiian bread + steamed sugar snap peas + trail mix + raw red bell pepper + yellow lentil, peanut butter, and hemp seeds balls
You can also add some honey or maple syrup to ricotta if you wish, but it’s good without it too! I know we’re talking mainly about sandwiches in this post but in case you’re curious about these lentil balls – combine cooked lentils (make a large batch to enjoy throughout the week. Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days) with some peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter) and hemp seeds and shape into balls.
4. spinach pancakes and cream cheese sandwich + raw zucchini and carrots + butternut squash + hard-boiled egg + raspberries + mashed avocado (with lime juice to prevent browning)
Avocado-Based sandwich fillings
In the morning, toast bread (to keep the sandwich from getting too soggy. Spreading with some butter will help too), wait for it to cool before assembling. Never mash the avocado directly on the toast.
And don’t forget to sprinkle some lemon or lime juice to prevent browning.
1. Chickpea avocado salad sandwich (recipe below) + watermelon + cucumber cheese sandwich + leftover sheet pan moroccan meatball cauliflower (recipe in my one pot meals cookbook) from previous night
2. Deconstructed curried chicken avocado salad (added cilantro instead of carrots) + naan + apple + tomatoes + frozen peas
3. Avocado, tomato, broccoli, cheese sandwich + grape tomatoes + mangoes + black eyed peas + peas + goldfish
Here’s another way to add those broccoli “sprinkles” as mentioned above in the cream cheese section. Finely chop tomato and combine with avocado and broccoli. Add a slice of cheese (can also use cream cheese)
4. mashed avocado with sliced strawberries, coconut flakes and chia seeds sandwich + butternut squash beef meatball from freezer + chestnuts + raw zucchini and bell pepper + trail mix
Pesto or Dip-based sandwich fillings
I highly suggest that you toast the bread and let it cool before spreading these sandwich fillings. Any of your favorite homemade or store-bought pesto, hummus, or dip will work! Here are some of ours.
1. Nut-Free Broccoli pesto with shredded chicken sandwich + watermelon + roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon + cucumber + broccoli pesto on the side
The beauty of these pancakes is that you can add whatever veggies you have on hand and so easy to whip up! Spread some hummus on toasted bread and add pancake slices. Can serve the remaining slices on the side as I did here.
combine mashed hard-boiled egg with beet hummus and spread onto toasted bread. As for the muffin, I like to thaw in the fridge overnight and add to lunch box without reheating.
Sandwich Lunch Ideas for Toddlers and Kids
Chickpea avocado salad sandwich
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, no-salt-added or low-sodium
- 1 medium ripe avocado
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoons water to thin out
- mash the chickpeas first then combine with the rest of the ingredients. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time to thin out to desired consistency.