Including a printable toddler lunch box meal plan and family lunch shopping list
We all know that trying to find easy toddler lunch ideas is a minefield. Between the sweet potato being thrown and the sudden dislike of cream cheese, finding budget-friendly and easy toddler recipes that the whole family will eat can drive you mad.
Packing your toddler lunches for pre-school or just for a day out doesn’t have to cause a family argument.
Toddler food can also be adapted for the whole family. Meaning you can still stick to your normal meal plan but please the toddler as well.
If you fear that this would lead to your shopping bill rising then it won’t.
Here are 5 ways to keep costs down while keeping your toddler happy and still eating:
Join our FREE saving money help in our Money Saving Mums Facebook group. Our safe community of parents are all in the same boat as you. Becoming debt-free isn’t easy but together we can all help each other.
Use money managing apps like Plum to keep your shopping bill under control. Using an app like Plum can really help you keep your money in check. Plum can help you build up your savings while showing you exactly where your money is going.
You can link all your accounts to it. It’s very transparent! It’s free to use and perfect if you prefer all your knowledge in one place.
Go through all your bills and check you’re on the best deal. This should be done at least every 6 months. We all know we should be doing it regularly and it really can save you money. If the whole idea fills you with dread then have a look at Bulb. They make switching really simple, promote going green and also offer you a bonus when you switch.
We recently swapped to Bulb and saved over £100.
Also, have a look at Ooki. They compare energy prices so you don’t have too. Ooki are completely free to use and get a quote from and can help you to save money on your energy bills.
Use cashbacks if you shop online for anything. We recommend OhMyDosh. You get money off whenever you shop online through their sites which can really come in handy once baby is born.
It doesn’t cost you a penny to use them. If you make a purchase through their site you receive the money. It’s that simple!
If you need help bringing your grocery shopping bill down further or are struggling to find things for the family to eat then try:
The Ultimate £1 Per Head Budget Meal Planning List – This gives you our complete list of £1 a head family meals. This includes meal plans and shopping lists that you can follow.
The Ultimate Guide to Food Shopping on a Budget – This walks you through exactly how to save money on your food shopping and all the tips we use to get ours down to under £50 a week for four people.
101 Aldi Recipes That Will Give You Dinner Ideas For Tonight – This post has a huge list of Aldi meal ideas that you can cook. They are all easy, budget-friendly and great for the whole family.
Over 20+ free printables
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Toddler lunch box ideas
According to NHS Choices, a balanced lunch box is:
Starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes or pasta
Protein foods like meat, fish, eggs or beans
A dairy item, like cheese or yogurt
Vegetables or salad and a portion of fruit.
So based on this, here are 7 simple, fast and delicious budget toddler lunch ideas to bring new life to the dreaded lunchbox.
These don’t have to just be for toddlers. If you have school-aged children these would work, but without the fun flare maybe?
Warning: novelty plays a big part here! The funnier it is the more lunch your toddler will eat. Fact!*
(*Not really fact but works for our family and it costs nothing to cut food into shapes.)
(All prices are based on Asda and are correct on time of publishing. Please remember to cut your grapes upwards not across for toddlers due to grapes being a choking hazard.)
Star Ham Sandwich with grapes, cheese chunks, and a banana.
Ingredients: 2 slices of bread 10p, 30g Ham 15p, 50g of grapes 30p, 30g of cheese chunks 20p and a banana 17p. Total: 92p
Cheese Sandwich kebabs, jelly, cucumber slices, and banana.
Ingredients: 2 slices of bread 10p, 30g of cheese 20p, Jelly 8p, banana 17p and cucumber slices 10p. Total: 65p
Triple decker crackers with ham and cheese slices, grapes, cucumber spirals, and flapjack
Ingredients: 9 crackers 5p, 30g of cheese 20p, 30g Ham 15p, 50g of grapes 30p, and cucumber slices 10p and flapjack slice 16p. Total: 96p
Pizza toast, cheese and ham cocktail sticks, jelly and banana and cucumber chunks.
Ingredients: 2 slices of bread 10p, 50g of cheese 28p, 30g Ham 15p, cucumber chunks 10p, banana 17pTotal: 80p
Cookie cutter cheese sandwich (mines a star), cucumber and grapes on sticks, ham slices and flapjack.
Ingredients: 2 slices of bread 10p, cucumber chunks 10p, 50g of grapes 30p, 30g Ham 15p and flapjack slice 16p. Total: 81p
Man-shaped scotch pancakes, raisins, and flapjack
These are sugar-free pancakes that can be frozen and grilled to be defrosted that morning. This recipe makes 12 pancakes. To freeze them, cook them like normal then wrap them in greaseproof paper and freeze
185g plain flour 10p, 2tsp baking powder 5p, 1 egg 7p, 200ml milk 20p, raisins 20p, flapjack 16p. Total: 78p.
Plain pasta with cherry tomatoes, roasted sweet potato
45g wholemeal pasta 7p, 55g cherry tomatoes 20p (cut up into four), roasted sweet potato 39p (cut in chip shapes).
These lunches are based on one child, but with the shopping list below, there’s no reason why you couldn’t all have the same lunch, minus the shaped bread if you want.
That way, all the items would be used, without you having to incorporate them into your meal plan.
Toddler Lunch box Shopping List
Wholemeal loaf 800g 90p
Jelly 11.5g (4 servings) 33p
Wafer Thin Cooked Ham 400g £1.50
Cheese 500g £2.60
Bananas 5pk 87p
Grapes 500g £1.50
Cream Crackers 400g 40p
Wholemeal pasta 500g 53p
Cherry tomatoes 330g 90p
Roasted sweet potato 1kg 89p
Plain flour 1.5kg 60p
Raisins 500g £1.80
Milk 4 pints £1.09
Total: £14.21 that’s £3.55 per person for 7 days of kids lunch meals.
(This shopping list is based on four people eating lunch for the week. Two adults and two children.)
Healthy meals for toddlers menus
Now, there is a bit of waste, but to counter that, leftover sandwich crusts can be used as fresh breadcrumbs and the leftover ham or cheese can be used for dinners that evening.
The good thing is, none of these are set in stone either. They can all be swapped and changed and fillings amended depending on what the family-like or what you can afford that week.
Meal planning for the week can be hard but is the most important part of eating on a budget.
It gives you a plan you can use to help you buy food more wisely and stop you staring in the fridge for 5 minutes trying to think about what to make for lunch or dinner.
If you’ve never meal planned before then start today even if it’s just with your toddler’s lunch. You’ll be surprised how much quicker and easier it will be when buying food and making lunch.
Ideas for lunches for toddlers
Think about your menu for the week, what can you use to double in your kid’s lunch? If I’m making pizza, can I make pizza bagels with the leftover base and sauce? Is there any Gammon left from Sunday lunch? Then that’s Monday’s filling.
Leftover eggs? Use them. Everything counts!
Search your kitchen staples, is there anything that you can bung together to help bring the cost down? For a full list of my recommended kitchen staples, CLICK HERE.
Can you make more to freeze? So those hectic mornings aren’t so stressful. Think about food pooling with your neighbours.
Buy Multipurpose Fruits and Vegetables
You don’t have to buy 8 different fruits and 7 different vegetables for 4 or 5 days’ worth of lunch.
What does everyone like? Could you swap and change depending on what’s on offer or on the Super Six? (if you shop at Aldi.)
Buy only what you’re going to use at home too.
Buy Snacks EVERYONE Enjoys. Don’t. I repeat: Don’t go out and spend twice as much on different snack foods just because one kid likes cheese and one kid doesn’t.
Find common ground and use it, even if the combos are a bit weird.
You Don’t Need Any Special ToolsI
I have seen lots of adorable lunch boxes that are made with tons of different cookie cutters, sandwich presses, plastic character toothpicks and even toothpick moustaches. While they’re so cute, they also cost money!
Use what you have at home already from cookie cutters to basic glass cup rims to match sticks. Everything and anything that makes lunch fun!
If you’re currently going through the dreaded toddler fussy eating stage then hang on in there. It’s not fun when the kids only want to eat beige food.
Try out list of 27 easy and kid-friendly budget recipes for fussy eaters that the whole family will enjoy. If the kids love something then make extra and pack it for lunch. At least they are eating something and you aren’t throwing it away.
- 15 Easy Overripe Banana Recipes
- 21 Budget Family Meals and a £16 Aldi Meal Plan
- The Ultimate Guide to Food Shopping on a Budget
You can almost see the pound signs when you have to chuck food away. It’s not easy when the kids suddenly change their mind on what food they like.
We try and use everything from taking the crusts to work for our lunch to smoothies when we have leftover fruit.
Have you got any lunch ideas for under £1? Let me know in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post and would like some more family friendly budget recipes or meal plan ideas, then head over to the budget food section here on Savings 4 Savvy Mums where you’ll find over 30 cheap posts dedicated to helping you cook and shop wiser for less. There’s enough tips to help you save over £300 a month! You could also pop over and follow my family food Pinterest boards for lots more ideas on how to eat well and spend less; Family Meal Plans on a Budget, Budget Family Meals & Budget Slimming World Recipes for Families.
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