Lunchtime can sometimes seem daunting, especially if you have no idea what to make for your baby. Whether you pack a lunch for daycare or your baby eats at home, we’ve compiled baby lunch ideas for six to 18 months that will make lunch time a breeze. Check out our baby breakfast ideas here!
Lunch Ideas for Babies
Purees (Generally 6 – 9 Months)
When babies first start on solids, it’s a great time to let them explore diverse tastes and textures. Remember when starting out on solids to introduce new foods as single-ingredient to make sure your baby isn’t allergic. Once you have determined they aren’t, you can combine those foods with others you have tested. Babies at this stage eat pureed food. There are three types of purees:
- Stage 1 – pure pureed in which the food is liquid smooth
- Stage 2 – food is slightly thicker in consistency
- Stage 3 – food has chunks
Depending on how well your baby sits up determines which stage you should use. All of these stages can be achieved in a food processor (like this one).
Vegetable of Your Choice
- Ingredients: 2 whatever vegetable you want, ½ cup formula or breastmilk
- Add desired vegetable (these can be frozen) and cook 7-10 minutes until soft
- Place in food processor, add formula/breastmilk, and puree until desired consistency.
- Popular first vegetables include: green beans, peas, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Apple, Peas, and Spinach
- Ingredients: 2 apples (peeled and chopped), ¼ cup spinach (packed in), ¼ cups peas, ½ cup water
- Instructions: Cook apples until soft (7-10 minutes) then place in food processor, cook peas (3-5 minutes) then place in food processor, sauté spinach and place in food processor, add water, and puree until desired consistency.
- You can substitute any fruits and vegetables just remember to cook them down before pureeing. Some ideas to consider:
- Apple and kale
- Butternut squash and sweet corn
- Banana and avocado
- Pears, cucumber, and kale
- Carrot, sweet potato, and pea
- Pear, zucchini, and corn
Check out this article for homemade baby food recipes!
Adding Meat Protein (Generally 7+ Months)
Once your baby is comfortable eating fruits and vegetables, introducing meat is next. Here are a few Stage 3 puree meat-based baby lunch ideas.
Chicken, Carrot, and Broccoli
- Ingredients: 2 oz uncooked chicken (cut into pieces), 1 carrot (peeled and diced), ¼ cup broccoli, chicken broth (just enough to cover ingredients in saucepan)
- Instructions: Place all ingredients in saucepan and cover with broth, simmer until chick is cooked through and vegetables are tender, drain and puree until desired consistency.
Shepherd’s Pie (Ground beef, carrots, peas, mash potatoes)
- Ingredients: 4 oz cooked ground beef, ¼ cup carrots, ¼ cup peas, ¼ cup mashed potatoes, 2 tbsp beef broth
- Instructions: Cook ground beef and place in food processor, cook carrots and peas until tender, cook mashed potatoes, place all ingredients in food processor and puree until desired consistency
Beef Stew (Bulk recipe, good for freezing)
- Ingredients: ½ pound beef roast (cut into cubes), 2 tsp olive oil, ¼ small onion (chopped), 1 carrot (peeled and diced), 1 medium gold potato (peeled and cut into cubes), 1 cup water
- Instructions: Heat oil in pot over medium-high; add beef and cook 2-3 minutes per side; add onions, carrots, potatoes, and water; stir and bring to boil, reduce heat to love, cover and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes; add to food processor and puree until desired consistency.
Finger Foods (Generally 7 – 12 Months)
As your baby grows you may notice signs are they are ready for finger foods. Almost anything healthy with a soft texture makes a great finger food. Small pieces of cooked vegetables, soft fruits, and pieces of pasta are great lunch ideas for babies.
Whole Grain, Protein, and Vegetable Plate
- Whole grain: bread, pasta (shells, bowties, or elbow), wheat bread
- Protein: cooked chicken, cooked pork, or cooked beef (no processed meats until 12+00)
- Vegetables including: peas, zucchini, carrots, black beans, avocado, and squash.
- Some ideas to consider:
- Pasta shells, chicken, carrots
- Peas, pork, apple sauce
- Toast, ground beef, cheese (small bites or shredded)
Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas
- Ingredients: 2 small (8-inch) tortillas, ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, ¼ cup cooked black beans
- Instructions: heat a nonstick pan over medium-low heat, place tortilla in pan, sprinkle cheese, placed beans in cheese, top with remaining cheese, cook until bottom of tortilla is brown and cheese starts to melt, cover with other tortilla and flip, cook until other side is brown.
- Once they master this quesadilla, try adding shredded chicken or ground beef.
Buttered Elbow Pasta
- Ingredients: 4 oz elbow pasta, 1.5tbsp butter, pinch of salt and pepper, grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Instructions: Bring a pot of cold water and salt to boil, add pasta stirring occasionally for 12 minutes, drain pasta leaving 3-4 tbsp of water in bottom of pot, return pot to low heat, add butter, whisk until melted, add pasta, sprinkle parmesan and pepper (if desired).
- Add chicken and peas for a complete meal.
Well-Balanced Meals (Generally 12+ Months)
Once your baby has mastered using a spoon and taking bites, they are ready for the healthy well-balanced meals you eat. These generally include a protein, carbohydrate, healthy fats (omega-3), and fruit/vegetable serving. Check out the well-balanced baby lunch ideas below:
Chicken Sweet Potato Poppers (family size recipe)
- Ingredients: 1 pound of ground chicken (or turkey), 2 cups sweet potato (peeled and grated), 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, 2 green onions (finely chopped), 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, pinch of salt
- Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease large baking sheet, squeeze excess moisture from shredded sweet potatoes, add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and combine, roll into balls then flattened to about one inch in diameter (should make between 22-25 poppers) place on baking sheet, bake for 15 minutes.
Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice (a favorite in our house, family size recipe)
- Ingredients: 1 tsp oil, ½ cup onion (diced), 1 tbsp garlic (minced), ½ cup carrot (diced), ½ cup bell pepper (diced), ½ cup ham (appropriate bite size for your baby), 3 eggs (beaten), 3 cups brown rice (cooked), 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 cup pineapple (diced)
- Instructions: In a wok (or deep skillet) heat oil on high; add onion, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, and ham and cook until slightly browned then push to side of wok; add eggs to empty part of pan and scramble them; add eggs to rest; add rice, soy sauce, pineapple; mix well.
Here are fifteen complete meal lunch ideas*:
- Turkey and cheese sandwich (bonus points: use a cookie cutter for fun shapes or grill it), carrots, and blueberries
- Spaghetti (can be meatless), buttered toast, and apples
- Black bean, chicken, and cheese quesadilla, avocado, and mangos
- Grilled chicken, mac and cheese, peas, and strawberries
- Homemade Lunchables (crackers, sliced cheese, and turkey), cucumbers, and blueberries
- Cucumbers and plain cream cheese, turkey, and berry mix (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- Pita bread, sliced carrots, cucumbers, and red peppers, plain hummus, and clementine slices
- Chicken sweet potato poppers, green beans, cornbread, and apple sauce
- Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice and edamame
- PB&J sandwich and banana slices
- Meatballs, roasted sweet potatoes, and cherry tomatoes (diced)
- Spinach and cheese tortellini (store bought), grilled chicken, and broccoli
- Buttered pasta, ham, peas, and raspberries
We hope these easy baby lunch ideas will be helpful to all of you parents out there!
Pin for Later: 21 Easy Baby Lunch Ideas They’ll Love!