Lunch Time Hacks: Simple Ways to Add Veggies and Balanced Nutrition

Author Image Katie Thomson MS, RD | Cofounder

If you’re over the daily struggle of packing your kid’s lunch box -- you’re not alone.

Many parents would agree, it can be a stressful task -- especially if there’s more than one lunch to pack!

We know from research, a healthy diet, rich in nutrients, supports the proper growth and development of your kiddo. It can also prevent chronic disease later in life.

And packing a healthy lunch your kids love can be daunting. But, we’re here to help.

Follow this simple formula - aim for variety and balance, not perfection.

Apple Curry Chicken Salad - Toddler lunch ideas - healthy

Balance is Key

Building a healthy and balanced diet includes eating a variety of foods that are flavorful and variable in texture. The Dietary Guidelines for toddlers 12-23 months who are no longer receiving human milk or infant formula can include age-appropriate foods from each of these food groups:

1. Fruit - Aim for ½ to 1 cup per day. For example: apple slices, berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), melon chunks, grapes, or avocado.

2. Veggies - Aim for ⅔ to 1 cup per day. For example: carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, cucumbers.

3. Whole Grains - Aim for 1 ½ to 2 cups per day. For example: whole grain pasta, quinoa, bread, crackers, or rolled oats.

4. Proteins - Aim for 2 cups per day. For example: eggs, unsweetened yogurt, cheese, turkey or chicken slices, beans, hummus, seafood, nut or seed butter, and edamame.

5. Healthy Fats - Aim for 2-3 teaspoons per day. For example: nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, avocado, and olive oil.

Baby in high chair eating healthy puree baby food

Research on Veggie Consumption

In the Dietary Guidelines report, nearly 90% of toddlers fall short of the recommended amount of veggie intake. We know (we’re parents, too!) -- the most common struggle is trying to get your kids to eat their vegetables. Even if your kiddo comes home with a lunchbox full of vegetables -- it’s OK! Persistence is key. Try again tomorrow.

A recent study examined the effects of infants and toddlers ages 4-24 months old and found that repeated exposure to vegetables increased their acceptability of the exposed vegetable. In addition, another study found it could take 10 or more tastes for your child to accept a new vegetable!

Baby food jars aligned featuring healthy nutritious baby food - Square Baby

In addition to repeated exposure to vegetables, there’s a second type of feeding strategy that has been shown to increase your infant and toddler’s acceptance of vegetables -- that is providing a variety of flavors!

Square Baby Can Help

This is where Square Baby comes in.

We offer 23 different meals with a variety of flavors and textures from thin and smooth to thick and chunky to encourage palate development. We offer fully customizable meal plans that are delivered straight to your door.

“It’s Square Baby’s mission to help babies develop their palate -- and inspire healthy eaters for life.”

- Katie Thomson, MS, RD, cofounder of Square Baby

Minty Green, Mango Coconut Chicken, Beet Berry, Apple Curry Chicken, Salmon Mash, Peanut Pumpkin Pie are just a few of our most popular meals -- all nutritionally-balanced and rich in vital nutrients including protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients that babies and toddlers require for proper growth and brain development.

Green peas - Baby food - Square Baby

Persistence is Key

If you’re still finding veggies coming home in their lunchbox after repeated attempts, our recommendation is keep exposing them to veggies early and often. It’s OK - do your best!

Square Baby meals were designed to offer 100% daily nutrition. The best part - each meal has at least 40% veggies -- with new meals featuring at least 75% veggies being released soon!

We’re here to solve the veggie problem. And we are here to make offering balanced nutrition to your LO -- easier on you.

Next time, when you’re packing a lunch, pick one or two items from each food group from the Dietary Guidelines list. Missing a fruit or vegetable? Don’t sweat it. Just add a Square Baby meal.

Square Baby puree product lined up

Square Baby meals are versatile. Use any Square Baby meal as a:

- Spread

- Sauce

- Dip or Topping

- Yogurt alternative

You’ll feel better knowing your little one is getting an extra boost in nutrition with 100% of your kiddo’s daily recommended servings of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein. Square Baby meals provide more nutrition without the worry.

Our Favorite Square Baby Lunchbox Hacks:

1. Use it like a spread

Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Toddlers - turkey sandwich with carrots, grapes, and sliced meat.

Have you seen a spread that is both flavorful and nutritious? You won’t find it in mayo or mustard. Our Avocado Greens savory meal includes ingredients from green beans, avocados, white beans, barley, garlic, avocado oil - all combined to create a creamy delicious spread high in iron and potassium. We love it on a timeless turkey sandwich!

Or check out our Salmon Mash Bagel Recipe!

2. Use it like a sauce

Mac and Cheese made healthy topped with healthy and nutritious baby food puree made by Square Baby

Mac and cheese is easy to make and delicious to eat, but lacking in nutritional value. There’s a quick solution to add more nutrition without the meal prep. Spruce up the mac and cheese and add Harvest Feast as a flavorful and nutritious sauce!

The warm flavors of sweet potatoes, butternut squash and cinnamon and cardamom paired with the sweetness of peaches packs a flavorful, and nutritious punch. This meal offers 100% daily recommendation of vitamin C and vitamin A!

3. Use it like a dip or topping

Easy Healthy veggie Quesadilla for toddlers lunch box

Quesadillas are easy to make with little to clean up -- and they’re perfect for any time of day. No time to make eggs? Just add a heaping spoonful of the Veggie Scramble meal for extra fruits, veggies, and you guessed it...eggs!


Join our newsletter to get updates here.

Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions by emailing us at or visiting

For support or FAQs, please visit us here.

Founders of Square Baby Katie Thomson and Kendall Glynn

~Katie and Kendall, cofounders

Miss a Beat

Drop your email for exclusive content & access to special deals

Other Popular Reads

The Ultimate Guide to Baby Food, Nutrition and Sleep

View More

Square Baby Wins Innovation Award for Sustainable Packaging!

View More

The Ultimate Guide to a Delicious and Nutritious Soft Food Diet

View More