In the words of Jack Johnson:
“Fall is here, hear the yell
Back to school, ring the bell
Brand new shoes, walking blues
Climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we are going to be friends
Yes I can tell that we are going to be friends.”
It is official. Our school year has begun. And I, along with so many of you, have also entered that time where, once again, we are facing those busy mornings and searching for tips and tricks to get us out of the door without all of that hectic stress.
We have high hopes and anticipations that this will be the year. The year that we are on time. The year that everyone skips happily out the door with all necessary homework, permission slips, and lunches in tow. The year that we can give ourselves a pat on the back for our new organizational skills.
This will be that year. Right?…Right?
I have a special printable tool that just may help with one aspect of that below. But first….I have a question!
How come none of you told me that by packing lunches the night before, I would preserve an incredible amount of my sanity?
Seriously! Where on earth have I been? I honestly am not sure how it has taken me over two years of rushing around in the morning to figure this out.
I am sure most of you already knew this and are rolling your eyes at me being so slow on the uptake. But I just had to share my joy in this new-found calmness I have discovered in the mornings.
Okay. Back to the real reason for this post.
I have put together a printable list of over 50 Mix-and-Match Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox Ideas for you. It is long, but I just wanted to show you the many possibilities to keep you out of those lunch-packing ruts that we all fall in to.
So. Print out the list. Bring it to the grocery store. Stick it on the fridge. Keep a copy on hand to whip out whenever you feel like you are running low on creative juices and come up with a host of new ideas.
50+ Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox Ideas
Allergen-Friendly Sandwich/Wrap Bases:
1. Gluten-free/Allergen-friendly Sandwich Bread
2. Grain-free bread (such as the Grain-free Sandwich Bread from Elana’s Pantry)
3. Gluten-free Pita Bread (such as GFL Foods, Inc)
4. Gluten-free Tortillas or Wraps (such as Sandwich Petals)
5. Safe Crackers of choice
6. Safe Bagels of choice (such as Udi’s)
7. Gluten-free Whole Grain Pancakes (eliminate any sweeteners from recipe)
8. Grain-free Allergen Safe Pancakes (eliminate sugar from recipe)
Topping Options for Above Mediums:
1. Nut Butter or Nut-free Butters (such as Sunflower-Seed Butter). Top with fruit slices or Jelly plus 1-2 tsp Ground Chia or Flax.
2. Home-made (or store-bought) Hummus topped with cucumbers and/or shredded carrots
3. Mashed avocados, 1/4 tsp lime juice, and shredded cheese, Dairy or Dairy-free (such as Daiya)-good on gluten free tortillas
4. Organic Nitrate-Free lunchmeat slices (such as Applegate Farms), Avocado slices, Roasted Peppers, Dairy or Dairy-free cheese shreds or slices
5. Organic Nitrate-Free lunchmeat slices (such as Applegate Farms), Roasted veggies and hummus in a pita
6. Mashed beans, pinch of salt, shredded cheese topped with shredded cheese, Dairy or Dairy-free, on a tortilla
7. Mix together: Chicken (or tuna) shredded, diced celery, diced apples, diced grapes, Organic Mayonnaise (or Egg-Free Version) to taste, squeeze of lemon juice, Salt and pepper to taste.
8. Cucumber slices, shredded vegetables and Dairy or Vegan cream cheese on a bagel (can add smoked salmon or lunch meat for added protein)
9. Black Bean burgers with avocado slices on a sandwich or gluten free bun (like these from Lexie’s Kitchen).
10. If not Egg-Free: Egg-Salad
11. Sandwich on a Stick – this is a fun idea from the Disney’s Family Fun Site
12. Leftover Dinner Meat (meatloaf works especially well because you can sneak in vegetables)
Other Main Dish Ideas:
1. Cooked brown rice mixed with cannellini beans, garlic salt, and shredded Dairy or Dairy-free cheese
2. Cooked brown rice or quinoa tossed with diced chicken, broccoli florets, dried cranberries, coconut oil, a splash or orange juice, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Fun shaped Pasta noodles tossed with cooked broccoli, shredded carrots, diced black olives, and 1 Tbsp vegan salad dressing
4. Gluten-Free Gnocchi or Ravioli (Conte’s makes a good option) with Marinara sauce for dipping
5. Gluten-Free Spaghetti and Meatballs
6. Meatballs and Sauce in a Thermos – send allergy-friendly bread or rolls for a Meatball Sub, if desired.
7. Mac and Cheese – Dairy based or Dairy-Free (try VegNew’s Vegan Version )
8. Homemade soups in a thermos (Here are a few ideas)
9. Meatloaf Muffins with Brown Sugar Glaze – (these are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and easily egg-free)
10. Black bean Salsa with diced chicken and avocado mixed in a container, and Gluten Free corn chips for dipping
11. Plain Gluten Free yogurt (Dairy or Non-Dairy) mixed with any fresh fruit and a small squeeze of honey
12. Pesto Sauce, Diced Chicken, and Gluten-Free Noodles (try gluten-free, dairy-free pesto sauce with recommendations on how to make it nut-free)
13. Hard-boiled eggs or Deviled Eggs, if you are not Egg-Free
14. Risotto with sautéed veggies – or turn leftovers into risotto cakes
15. Pizza on Safe Crust with Dairy or Dairy-free cheese (if able to heat items at school)
16. Tacos: Send seasoned ground beef mixed with fillings of choice and soft tortillas
Sides and Snacks:
1. Bananas, Apples, or Celery with a small container of nut butter, sunflower seed butter, or soy butter for dipping
2. Raw vegetables (sugar snap peas, broccoli, carrots, celery, etc) with hummus or salad dressing for dipping (try pureeing vegetables into your hummus)
3. Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Marinara Sauce for dipping
4. Fresh Fruit Kebabs with Dairy or Dairy-Free yogurt for dipping
5. Fruit dipped in pumpkin pie dip: pureed pumpkin or sweet potato mixed with pumpkin pie spice and a little honey. Good with apple, pear, or banana slices
6. Roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
7. Smoothies in a thermos – get creative and add different fruits, greens, chia or flax seeds
8. Nuts: if not allergic and your school allows them
9. Trail mix with Dairy Free Dark Chocolate pieces for a treat (Enjoy Life Foods has great Nut-Free Trail mixes) or make own with: chopped almonds (if not Nut-Free), raisins, dates, apricots, cranberries, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, etc.
10. Dehydrated Fruit (sulfite free)
11. Store-bought OR Home-made Gluten-Free and Allergy Friendly Granola Bars
12. Home-made air-popped popcorn tossed with organic coconut oil and celtic sea-salt
13. Safe Granola in a container with a separate thermos of Dairy or Dairy-Free milk to pour over it.
14. Cornbread muffins (pair with a turkey sandwich or turkey slices and dried cranberries, or even cranberry sauce)
1. Homemade Rice Crispy Treats made with Organic Brown Rice Cereal
2. Muffins – experiment with different whole grains or go grain-free and also add any pureed vegetable into them (make big batches and freeze – will thaw by lunch)
3. Fruit Crumbles made with healthy ingredients (these GF, DF, EF, SF Berry Crumbles would be great in a small container)
4. Nutty Flax Bars (which are actually nut-free and really good for you)
5. Dates with Cream Cheese, Dairy or Vegan. Sounds weird but so yummy!
6. Home-made or store-bought allergy-friendly cookies (make big batches and freeze – will thaw by lunch)-You can scroll down this page for some different recipes
7. A homemade brownie
9. Safe Banana or Zucchini Bread Slices
Try to mix and match your choices each day, throw in a note or a joke to put a smile on your child’s face, and arm yourself with some fun eco-friendly reusable lunch containers. You really cannot go wrong with filling their lunch boxes with whole grain, plant based options, and avoiding the highly processed, nutrient void convenience foods. Have fun with your creations and then sit back and know that you have done a major part in fostering your child’s learning potential.
And then go ahead and give yourself that pat on the back!