Check Out These Tips & Ideas for Nut-Free Lunches
Whether your child has a nut or tree nut allergy or this is the first time you find yourself packing a lunch for your little, finding nut-free alternatives might be a challenge. But with a bit of thought—and these 7 tips of course!—you will find that avoiding nuts doesn’t have to make you nuts.
1. Keep lunches as simple as possible.
You don’t have to go out of your way to make their food “kid friendly”—if you are eating healthy, balanced meals at home, your kids should easily do the same at school. Keep that philosophy in mind when putting their lunches together.
2. Have your child pick their top 5 (or 10!) fave foods or meals and rotate.
Keep a calendar or note pad on the fridge or on the kitchen wall where you can write the lunch schedule down. That way you know you have the ingredients and you also know you’re packing food they want to eat.
3. Choose whole foods.
It’s far easier to avoid allergens when your ingredient list is one item long. There’s never a doubt about what goes into those freshly cut veggies or that unsweetened applesauce.
4. Water is the ideal drink.
You don’t need to give kids pop or juice or even milk to drink at lunch. Most kids already take a bottle to sip from throughout the day, why not pack a small bottle of water to drink alongside their lunch. If they want, add berries, cucumbers, lemons or limes to it with some ice cubes. They’ll be hydrated and healthy.
5. Think outside the sandwich box.
Thermos offerings can include macaroni and cheese, soups, and leftover casseroles. We’ve even seen homemade fish or chicken sticks, French toast and omelettes.
6. Raw vegetables become more of a draw when you supply a dip.
When sending carrots, celery, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, cucumber, etc., cut into strips and add a tiny container of a of dip your child likes. Greek Yogurt or hummus are great choices. Add wedges of pita bread or crackers as well.
7. Avoid these when packing a lunchbox:
High-sugar snacks (cookies, cake, juice boxes, canned fruit), foods high in additives like colour and MSG (processed cheese slices, jams, non-fat yogurts), bad fats, which may interfere with nerve function (lunch meats, fried foods, processed cheeses), caffeine (chocolate and pop) and too much salt (potato chips, processed lunch meats).
If you follow those seven tips you will have amazing lunches, everyday for camp or school (and why not pack your own lunch at the same time and save yourself the hassle, cost and calories of a take-away lunch…?).
Here are a bunch of specific recommendations to get your lunch-packing frenzy going:
Kids do love sammies, especially when they’re different, fun and tasty. Try different breads to entice them like roti, pita, dark rye, healthy crackers, tortillas, pizza dough…even waffles or pancakes!
- Cream cheese and fresh sliced strawberries with a little bit of cinnamon.
- Ham or chicken, pineapple slices, and cream cheese
- Falafel balls with lettuce, cucumber, hummus and tzatziki
- Hummus, cucumber, and feta (or any other) cheese
- Turkey, ham or corned beef with cheese and cucumber
- Babaghanouj with sliced tomatoes
- Tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella
- Chicken with shredded lettuce and guacamole spread
- Scrambled egg with mushrooms, cheese and peppers
- Cheddar and sliced apple
Kids don’t insist their hot foods be piping hot for lunch, and a thermos will keep anything warm for a few hours, which is perfect. Why not give them a few of their dinner-time faves for lunch? They’ll love it.
- Pasta (leftover from last night’s dinner?)
- Scrambled eggs
- French toast
- Turkey Meatballs and Zucchini “Noodles”
- Mac and Cheese (try Annie’s Homegrown)
- Oatmeal with fresh fruit and yogurt on the side
- Chili or warm dip for whole grain nacho chips
There’s nothing wrong with a sweet treat — especially when it’s a healthier version of dessert. It will satisfy their sweet tooth and make them smile…what’s better than that?
- Apple sauce – buy a large jar and send in single serving sizes in small containers
- Greek yogurt with real fruit and honey
- Dried fruit (you can get everything from bananas to mangoes these days)
- Fresh fruit slices (orange, apple, pineapple, grapefruit)
- Graham crackers with ricotta and jam
- Homemade rice pudding
- Whole grain ginger snaps
- Clementine oranges
- Homemade mini muffins (sneak in flax seed, whole grains and fruit)
- Homemade zucchini loaf or banana bread
Everyone has a chance and a time for snacking whether it’s a break during the day or something to keep the hungries at bay between school and dinner. Pack healthy ones they’ll love.
- Air-popped popcorn
- Kale chips
- Roasted chickpeas
- Hard boiled eggs
- Egg fritters with veggies
- Apple chips
- Hummus with veggies
- Homemade granola
- Guacamole with Greek yogurt and mini tomatoes with healthy crackers
Do you have a nut-free lunch packing strategy? Share in the comments!