Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Back to School on a Gluten Free Diet: How to Pack Gluten Free Lunches

Back To School on a gluten free diet

I’ve covered plant based lunch ideas, but maybe you need ideas for gluten free lunches? Here’s a huge list, plus some considerations for classmates with peanut allergies. It doesn’t take extra time or energy. Just a few simple swaps and some creativity!

It takes me half an hour to pack food any time we have to eat away from home.

Half an hour.


Lunch for one adult and two small children, I’m sure, should not take that long.

Packing Gluten Free Lunches

And starting in just two short weeks, I’ll be packing a lunch every day for my new first grader. Gluten-free, possibly. Eco-friendly, definitely.

Be still, my beating heart!

I’m petrified!

Clearly, I need to figure out some streamlining processes for the everyday lunch packing dance. And I will, I’m sure, but for now, I’ll just shake in my boots for a while, because I do not have half an hour every night to devote to lunch.

Packing healthy lunches when you’re short on time and out of bread is mind-boggling. Is there such a thing as a lunch without a sandwich? Is it possible for it to be healthy too?
The Healthy Lunch Box Cover Flat
The Healthy Lunch Box: Sandwich-free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch is loaded with strategies to streamline your packing process, stock your pantry with emergency backups for your backups, and send healthy, delicious food in the lunch box, no matter how old your eater is. Read more and start packing healthier, processed-free lunches today.

A Lunch with No Sandwich?

One reason lunches are more complicated here is the general lack of bread. We haven’t had bread in the house for months after we dabbled with an elimination diet that was gluten-free that determined that my husband definitely has some sort of issue with gluten, and have since remained “low-gluten”.

Since we’re living with my husband’s parents for a short time while we find that Perfect House, I really don’t make bread because I left all my handy-dandy tools (breadmaker, KitchenAid) in storage.

Unless I try the soaked no-knead bread again, I won’t be sending any sandwiches in Paul’s lunchbox.

I still have a hunch that gluten isn’t so great for him either, so I’m happy to keep him largely gluten-free as well.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to pack, and although my previous list of healthy lunch packing ideas has much to offer, remaining gluten-free is another question entirely.

But I’m getting mentally prepared.

Juggling special diets along with the craziness of back-to-school isn’t easy, and sometimes it isn’t cheap. Making sure your kids are nourished midday for best learning is worth the effort, though, and you can definitely pack a lunch to help them eat well while you spend less.

Another post from our contributor, Mary, whose kids have multiple food allergies, also shares so many great ideas for allergy-friendly portable lunches. Worth reading!

Related: Kids Gluten-Free Snacks They Can Make

Gluten Free Lunch Ideas

Main Course:

When you can’t pack a sandwich, what can you pack? Think outside the bread. Turn the sandwich inside out and present the contents in a new way (bread is just a carb-filled vehicle for the good stuff inside anyway).

Homemade Refried Beans

  • egg salad (nothing wrong with a  bowl of egg salad and a fork. You can also wrap it in a sturdy lettuce leaf or include a splurge item like Nut Thins, gluten-free crackers. Make it with pastured eggs and homemade mayo. My only problem with eggs for lunch is that I have to make sure I don’t serve our best ever scrambled eggs for breakfast, too!)
  • tuna salad (just include pickles and a fork. No problem! My culinary creation as a child was tuna salad wrapped in a big lettuce leaf with crushed potato chips on top. Maybe a fun ‘sometimes’ treat to include the chips!)
  • corn tortilla wrap or cold homemade refried beans with corn chips (almost any sandwich can be redone in a good corn tortilla – nitrate-free lunchmeat and cheese, leftover chicken, PBJ, or a cold burrito)
  • grain-free crepes also make any sandwich into a wrap (my family was pleasantly surprised that the coconut flour crepes from Health Home & Happiness’s menu planner don’t taste like coconut at all)
  • your favorite soup in a thermos (we live on leftovers for lunch, so I know Paul will have a thermos of soup sometimes, heated on the stove for lasting hotness. I’ll rinse the pot and use it for my lunch with Leah later in the day.)
  • meat, cheese and a dip (think Lunchables without the crackers and additives. Last week my kids turned down leftovers, even nachos, three times and opted for plain chicken, cheese, and mustard with a few veggies on a plate. Kids don’t require a lot of fanfare; just train them to eat simply. You can even make your own lunch meat. It’s super easy!)
  • a dressed up salad (salads aren’t the most immediately kid-friendly meal, but if you add enough goodies: veggies, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, frozen peas, meat, ETC. and a great dressing, you might have a winner.)
  • quinoa or millet salad (cook any whole grain and add a favorite vinaigrette, beans, veggies, and even meat to make it a main course. Check out our favorite cold grain salad and just sub GF grains.)
  • Mexican beans and rice and tortilla chips (warm and send in a thermos)
  • hard-boiled egg (cut in half is easier to handle; often a good part of a picnic style meal with cheese, nuts and other finger foods to eat. A sprinkle of unrefined sea salt is great on top!)
  • gluten-free crackers with toppings (basic cheese slices are great, or try mini Nut Thins sandwiches with natural peanut butter, yogurt cheese, jelly, raw honey, or some combination of those. Or you can make a variety of simple gluten free crackers like these soaked teff crackers or gluten free “Wheat Thin” crackers.)
  • leftovers: (use a thermos OR ask your kids what they might eat cold. My daughter would eat cold potatoes and I’d gladly munch on cold stir fry, for example.)
  • Even More Ideas:  Find more grain-free lunch ideas from my affiliate partner’s eBook, The Grain-Free Lunchbox.
Mexican Beans And Rice

The Mexican beans and rice and 30 other beans dishes are available in The Everything Beans Book.


I’m thrilled to share a FREE gluten-free cheat sheet mini eBook to help get you started! This is perfect if you’ve just been told you need a GF diet, if you have a friend or family member eating GF and you’d like to cook for them, or if you’re just curious what it’s all about!

Fruits and Veggies:

The easiest way to skirt around just about any food restriction is to stick with real fruits and vegetables. Most kids love a piece of fruit in their lunch, but presenting veggies so they’re not brought home limp and warm can be a challenge.

  • Veggie ideas: cherry tomatoes, carrots, pea pods, cucumbers, cauliflower or broccoli spears, celery, fresh green beans, colored peppers – cut fun shapes to encourage dipping
  • Dip ideas: hummus, homemade yogurt in the crock pot with spices or yogurt cheese dip, ranch dressing, even ketchup if it’ll get them to eat their veggies!
  • Frozen peas are simple and tasty!
  • Apple slices with natural peanut butter, sunbutter or almond butter to dip
  • Whole fruits: bananas, oranges, apples, pears, plums, melon, grapes, cherries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines…try to stick with what is more or less in season and watch the Dirty Dozen list. Be sure to ask your child if they need the fruit cut for ease of eating or time constraints; I hate to think of big pieces of leftover fruit tossed out simply because the child ran out of time.
  • Dried fruits: these organic dried fruits are one way to avoid chemical additives common in most dried fruit. I have a ton of homemade strawberry fruit rolls waiting for school lunches, too.
  • Freeze-dried fruits: ideal for toddlers, these lightweight wonders are pricey, but super fun and last halfway to forever.

RELATED: Eating the Rainbow Health Benefits 

Other Side Dishes:

Back to school on a gluten free diet

Fruits and veggies do not a full tummy make. It’s important to make sure your child’s stomach isn’t rumbling well before the final school bell, so you want to make sure you have a nice balance of fats and proteins, maybe some fiber. Think dairy, nuts, gluten-free grains, beans and legumes, healthy fats in dips, etc.

back to school on a gluten free diet

Back to school on a gluten free diet

Considerations: Talk to your Child’s Teacher

Just as you’d have a discussion with your child’s teacher if he or she needed special academic support, it’s really important for teachers to understand special dietary needs.

Whether your child has a serious allergy or a gluten sensitivity, a new diet can be foreign territory for a teacher. I recommend bringing a helpful list of foods that your child CAN eat, especially if snacks are a community affair. It’s almost guaranteed that the class will eat something together throughout the year, and a pizza party is not a very good reward for a gluten-free child.

You also need to make sure that the teacher understands the ramifications of your child getting his or her hands on a forbidden food. The teacher must understand that the food allergy is no laughing matter, and that the child can’t just “have a little cheat.”

Trading food is a sore spot for those on specific diets. Your first and best line of defense is to make sure your child knows the rules. Have a serious consequence in place for trading food. Even if you ask the teacher to police food trading, they can’t catch everything, and most lunch eating takes place far beyond the confines of the classroom.

Nut Allergies: a Different Beast

I’m happy that I can be in charge of what my son eats at school, and my dietary choices don’t really have to impact the other kids. But not all dietary restrictions are that way.

Since nut allergies are airborne and much more serious, the entire classroom needs to be involved in keeping the child safe.

If your child has a nut allergy, you’re probably well-versed in explaining the issue to teachers and insisting on a nut-free room.

If one of your child’s classmates has a nut allergy, I beg you to be understanding. Nut allergies can kill. The consequence is very serious, and a peanut butter sandwich eaten by a neighbor (your child, perhaps) could send a child with a peanut allergy into anaphylactic shock.

Even if PBJ is the only food your child will eat for lunch – and I sympathize with you, I really do! – the nut allergy needs to be prioritized first over the picky eater, which is not life-threatening.

I taught third grade for two years and had three kids with peanut allergies. We ate lunch in the room and had to have safe areas for peanuts and special clean-up considerations. I made a “no peanut snacks” rule and a “peanut only once a week” for lunch rule. Some parents balked, but it simply had to be.

One parent of a child with the peanut allergy brought in a few pages of peanut-free lunch ideas that I copied and sent home to all the families. I thought that was a super idea and very supportive of the needs of everyone.

Whether your child has an actual allergy or sensitivity or just a real food diet that’s different than the standard American kid, what are you doing this school year to nourish their bodies and protect their health?

More allergy-friendly lunches here!

Tons of school lunch packing ideas here!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure statement here.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

60 thoughts on “Back to School on a Gluten Free Diet: How to Pack Gluten Free Lunches”

  1. Hi. I just wanted to let you know, I just recently found Canyon Bakehouse. They have awesome GF bread. You can make a sandwich from it without it crumbling or needing to toast. I brought it to work last week and made myself a ham and cheese sandwich and it was so nice and normal!!!!!!!!! I just wanted to share with you & anyone else.

  2. Pingback: Eat Well, Spend Less: Back to School Breakfast (Recipe: Baked Oatmeal) | Simple Bites

  3. Stephanie via Facebook

    We managed it this summer, too! We camped with supportive family which helped a ton! Hard to give up s’mores!

  4. Am wondering if the allergic reaction to peanuts, wheat etc is actually an allergic reaction to mold…peanuts, corn and wheat being the three most contaminated food products in U.S. Believe the specific mold is aspergillus…check it out…

  5. Pingback: At Least 150 Ideas for Gluten Free School Lunches | Gluten Free: The Celiac Site

  6. We use sunbutter at our house and what we have found with Sunbutter brand of sunbutter is that they have 3 different flavors. There is regular sunbutter that is more like regular peanutbutter and is sweet and creamy and doesn’t seperate. My kids won’t touch that stuff. Ick! The second flavor is Sunbutter Naturals and its more natural but just slightly sweet and only seperates a bit. The third one is Sunbutter organic and it just contains sunflowers, they won’t touch it either! Ick! But they LOVE the Natural one. And honestly, I like it better than peanutbutter. Its all in what the kids are used to and once my kids got used to Sunbutter (it took a little while) they came to prefer it over any kind of peanutbutter. Don’t know of that helps anyone but I know for us it was trial & error.

    Katie, Gluten-Free Gobsmacked has a gluten free wrap bread recipe that is very versatile and it is fabulous for sandwiches. If you read the comments thru completely there are some fabulous tips for various flours and flavors. My daughter likes it with quinoa & oat (gf certified) flours and toasted flax seed. We have also made it with cheese & onion in it and another with cinnamon & sugar for a sweet bread. It also works wonderfully for french toast. It doesn’t bake up in a loaf but is spread out in a jelly roll pan. It is super flexible bread and folds right around anything you put in it!

  7. For the mom who said her underweight child would die wihout peanutbutter because he is allergic to wheat, soy, dairy, etc. my question is this: will your child die if he is in the same room with those foods? Because most children with peanut and tree nut allergies will DIE from it, some being so sensitive that if they smell it their throat closes up and their airways are blocked and they smother to death. I have both a child with nut allergies & latex allergies (which crossed into foods such as banana, avacado, celery, pineapple, etc.) and I also have a son with a metabolic disorder where his body does not store any fat at all and he must eat every 2 hours. It is difficult and while I sympathize with you there is a huge difference in havig a picky eater who is underweight and having a child who will die within minutes from anaphylactic shock. HUGE DIFFERECE. A picky eater can be fed something different that they like.
    And I might remind those of you who have children in public schools and are choosing not to extend grace to those children with life threatening allergies that those children have the same right to a government provided education as your child. Perhaps those with super picky eaters should also have to keep their children at home as well so as not to put anyone else at risk?
    Unfortunately peanut allergies are more and more common and there are far too many people with anaphylactic allergies. Shame on anyone who is up in arms over a simple food restriction!!

  8. Thanks for the topic. I have been so stressed. Due to food allergies/intolerances the boys are wheat free, gluten free, peanut free and cheese free. UGH, talk about making it difficult to make lunch for co-op. I broke down today and purchased a loaf of GF bread from Whole Foods just for co-op days, after I asked to taste it to make sure they would eat it.

  9. Nori sheets wrapped around pretty much anything… can sub in hummus etc for the rice and add veggies (fresh and/or fermented). Quinoa works well for roll type things if you’re keen (prepare like you would sushi rice). And yes, making your own salad rolls with rice paper is a fun option too. Dips… must have dips for anything and everything. You can make a pretty mean aka awesome “peanut sauce” with pureed avocado as the base and season with nut/seed butter, tamari, ginger, garlic and/or 5 spice powder. Yam fries with dip is another favourite around here… and dutch baby pancakes using GF flours. Puddings. Muffins. Lots of tasty options.

  10. Thanks for all of your ideas. We have been busy coming up with lunch ideas for our daughter who has allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, (so no nuts or seeds at all), dairy, eggs, coconut, and wheat.

    We have been sending veggies, fruit and then a main dish like chicken to dip in catchup, guacamoli with chips or rice cakes, black bean salad, chicken lunch meat rolled up, a hot dog or sausage. We get the lunch meat, sausage, or hot dogs from trader joes so they don’t have extra stuff in them. It isn’t the perfect lunch but right now I am in my first trimester and teaching full time so we have to have quick and easy lunches!

    1. Holy cow that’s a lot of foods to stay away from! I can’t imagine juggling all those… Maybe in the fall you’ll be able to add homemade soups to the mix for some variety. You’ve got your hands full to be sure!
      🙂 Katie

  11. Pingback: Eat Well, Spend Less: Back-To-School Lunch and Snack Inspiration

  12. Pingback: Eat Well, Spend Less: Back-to-School Tips and Tricks |

  13. Since we went gluten free for my husband, he’ll eat egg or tuna salad with a freshly sliced cucumber instead of bread!

  14. I get that it can be an inconvienience to those that have children without allergies but I don’t feel that the children who do have allergies should be punihsed by being told to stay home. Just because they have an allergy, which they have no control over by the way, that they should miss out on the school experience and socialization? That doesn’t seem fair at all. My son has a severe peanut allergy and has already had to be taken to the hospital once. He is sensitive enough that peanut butter touching his skin will cause a rash and you can easily guess what ingestion does. He starts school next year and will not be in a peanut free school and I am terrified. Right now the policy at the school he will attend is that whenever there are peanut products being served in the cafeteria the children with allergies are required to eat in the office. I don’t feel that’s fair either but it’s better than the alternative. For those that don’t have children with allergies, parents with children who do have them aren’t asking for these things to be difficult we ask because we want the best for our children just as you would want the best for yours.

    1. There is a picture book called “The Peanut Free Cafe” that might be helpful. I don’t recall the author, but the story line is basically a creative way for dealing with a peanut allergy in a lunch room. Instead of punishing the child with the allergy by sending them to the office to eat, a special peanut free section of the cafeteria was formed. Eating at the “Peanut Free Cafe” became a treat for those who were willing to choose/pack nut free lunches. The book might be a springboard for your child’s school to start thinking a bit more outside the box. Just an idea…

  15. Pingback: Back to School Recipes & Meal Ideas — Life As Mom

  16. We’re not gluten free, but my son just doesn’t like bread or crackers. We do a lot of “dips”. Tortilla chips with pinto bean dip, celery sticks with tuna salad “dip”. Also he likes hardboiled eggs.

    Another great option are spring roll wrappers (rice wrappers). We have stir fry a lot so this is a good way to send the leftovers with him to school!

  17. Katie
    I love your site and tell everyone about it. I have the same problem. My son can have gluten but hates sandwiches. So last year we wrote down what he would take so we could remember our ideas for this year. I created an excel sheet that we print out and put on our fridge. It gives kids ideas of what they can put in their lunch. Sometimes I don’t have everything on that list available but it helps me remember what I do need to have on hand. Less thinking for me, nice! Check out my website under lunches and you can see our ideas. Maybe that will help you. Making lunch is not fun so I make my 2 boys and hubby do it themselves. THis list is a life saver.

  18. One thing I have to disagree with you on is the peanuts. My son has 2 kids in his class who are allergic to peanuts, but he takes a PB on celery most days. He has many of his own allergies, which include gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and the restriction of taking all the peanuts away from him is too much. As it is, he is severely underweight, 38 lbs at 6 yrs old, and he will not eat much. If he doesn’t like something, he will go without eating. And he has gone for so long he was hospitalized because everyone told us that we should just make him eat even if he didn’t like it. He just didn’t eat. So for my son, NOT eating the peanuts can also be life threatening and taking them away from him would harm him.

  19. One thing I have done for my child with allergies was to send in a snack box. Whenever the class has a snack or birthday treat, he can choose something out of his box. I don’t have to worry about contamination and he still feels included.

  20. I love this post 🙂 One thing my kids love are salami roll-ups. It’s a treat because the good salami (no BHT etc…from WF..$13/lb..yikes) isn’t here too often! Anyway we do salami with cream cheese, and well..roll it up! Also Katie, on the eco-friendly front, I have been using these clam-shell type sandwich boxes by Fuel, they are the best! As well as the Snack Taxis.
    I realize you won’t be doing sandwiches, but I put alot in them and never have a problem. I bet it won’t take you a half hour to pack once you get it down. I always have in mind what I’m packing the next day (many times your granola bars for snacks), and I put it all together while they are eating their breakfast at the counter. We can talk, and I get something done 🙂 Blessings 🙂

  21. I have been dreading the lunch packing thing and started today. We are gluten, casein, soy free and here are some ideas I have:

    Sourdough crepe sandwiches
    Sushi rolls with veggies, canned fish, etc.
    Fingerling potatoes
    Tamales (they freeze great so it can be a convenience lunch)

    I found today that lack of time to eat for my slow eating child will probably be a bigger concern than what to pack. I may save half out for after school because he ate more when we got home than he did for lunch.

    Thanks all for the great ideas!

  22. There are some great snack ideas here! I feel terrible for people that have to deal with peanut allergies, but I don’t think it’s right for them to dictate what others can bring for their lunches. If a child’s allergies are life threatening, it would be better to keep them at home. My kid’s school has lunch boxes and trays sit at separate tables, the idea being that trays have no nut products. If the child is sensitive enough that they can’t even be in the same room, it’s time to keep them @ home and not punish everyone else.

    1. Jodi,
      I do respectfully disagree with you – not every parent is cut out for homeschooling, and for most people, leaving peanuts at home is not a massive sacrifice to keep someone else in their community safe.

      Your school’s solution is pretty common, and if a child really couldn’t be in the same room, they might get to eat in the classroom or something. For snacks at indoor recess, however, all kids would have to be peanut-free, but there are so many peanut-free options that it really shouldn’t be a big deal.

      1. Thank you, Katie, for your wise and thoughtful response.

        It is very hurtful when parents of kids with severe peanut allergies hear lines like “just keep those kids at home if they’re so allergic.” I want to say (but haven’t dared!) to those insenstive folks, “Imagine walking in someone else’s shoes for a while, and be grateful you don’t have to do it 24/7. For kids in school all day 5 lunches out of 21 meals is not too much to ask for you child to eat something other than PB. There are so many other options!” I am thankful for parents who shown much grace for the inconvenience of not being able to pack PB who say that they’re happy to do it and would hope that others would do the same if it were their child with the severe allergy.

        When I do get discouraged, I try to remember that dealing with food allergies can be minor compared to a parent dealing with a chronically or terminally ill child (cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, etc.). Sometimes we all need a little perspective.

        1. Absolutely. I’m relieved that my son is now in a school that allows peanuts, but he went to a nut-free preschool for 3 years, and one of the kids with severe peanut allergy was his friend; when I felt grouchy about not being allowed to send PBJ, I would picture his friend dying and know it wasn’t worth it.

          I’m allergic to dogs, but my allergy is not life-threatening. If a blind person with a helper dog gets onto a bus with me, I have to get out ASAP to avoid getting hives and sore throat. I believe the blind person’s need for help getting around trumps my discomfort.

        2. Brandis @ Crunchy Thrify Cool

          I’m sorry you have to deal with people who react that way- there is no reason a child who is allergic to peanuts should have to stay home, and it’s totally insensitive for others to expect them to. It’s a tiny sacrifice for kids to give up peanut butter, especially since there are acceptable substitutes. I swear, some people completely lack empathy!

          Of course, the ones you remember are the people who say things like that, but I think at least 98% of other parents sympathize with you and understand why they can’t include peanut butter in their kids’ lunches. Even I, who have a super picky kid who will eat only a few things, with peanut butter being one of them, understand. Picky kids (mine especially!) need to suck it up and their parents need to get over it:)

  23. Frugal Jen | Frugal, Freebies and Deals

    Oh and I am in love with these- just bought the buckwheat flour today to make them. Look at the end how she made a sandwich out of them!!


  24. Thanks so much for this post! You have NO idea how timely it is! We are just entering (maybe?) the world of food allergies. I never thought it would be *my* family (who does?), but my 3-year-old has been having some issues, and her new pediatrician (who is integrative!) has her on a dairy free diet for right now, and she wants us to try cutting gluten next. After purging her diet of certain foods, we’ll be going to the allergist. :/ It’s all a little scary and confusing, but I feel blessed with all the other mamas in the “blogosphere” who have gone before me with special diets for their families.

    All that said–she’s NOT in school yet, but of course I want some good ideas for healthy lunches at home! Thanks for the extensive list!

  25. In our daughter’s kindergarten class this year, there is a diabetic child, our tree-nut-allergic girl, and another child who is allergic to dairy, soy, eggs, and nuts. Needless to say, we will be bringing our own snacks!! I’m not sure if they are banning the entire food pyramid from the classroom yet, but we’re getting creative, as well. The coconut-flour pancakes are on our list, as well as lots of fruit/veggies, hard-boiled eggs (if they’re allowed!), and your amazing granola bars. Wish us all luck! Heaven help us when we go to all day school and have to pack lunches!

  26. I was just looking through your list of recipes and am definitely going to make the chicken nuggets for a school lunch. I usually send my son with leftovers from dinner the night before, such as soups and casseroles.

  27. We home school, but we are often out and about for lunch, so packing is still an occasional issue for us. We have been using Laptop Lunch boxes for years. However, no matter what you pack in, their website has an awesome recipe list. You can adapt many of them to be gluten free. I don’t necessarily use the recipes themselves, but I like seeing examples of how to pack a lunch that goes beyond the sandwich, fruit and cracker variety.

  28. Lisa @Granola Catholic

    at our house, most of us eat outside the house most days. While not gluten free we are gluten light here. We like to use Rye Crisps as well as corn tortillas. Rye Crisps are not completely gluten free but rye is lower in gluten than wheat and I find I can digest them much easier.

  29. You need to learn how to make real GF bread, it takes some time but if you are dedicated to GF you need to do it. And I guarantee you any school worth its salt already has a plan in place for dealing food alergies.

  30. Lunches for us are a bit challenging too as our school is nut-free due to other children’s allergies. 🙁 Can make lunches really repetitive!

        1. Ooooohhhhhh…GAPS significantly decreases your options, that’s very true! Almond butter instead?

          1. I don’t think any nuts are allowed at school. However, I did read a comment about sunflower seed butter, that could be an option.

            1. Please just be aware that not all sunbutter is made equal or the sunflower seeds used to make homemade. Most of these products are made in facilities that process other nuts and may come in contact with the sunbutter. Some kids are that allergic to even be in a 10 foot radius of something like that. It is scary business.

              1. Hi Kristen,

                Thanks for the reminder! We buy the Sunbutter brand in my house. It is certified nut-free (they don’t even allow employees to bring PB sandwiches for lunch!) however they do roast soy in the same facility. A great reminder that labels must always be read carefully for any allergy.

  31. Frugal Jen | Frugal, Freebies and Deals

    Katie- my girls eat the same way. Don’t make it too complicated for yourself. I even have my girls (K and 1st) making their own lunches with my supervision.

    We do buy some GF breads for them to have toast and sometimes sandwiches- but I think they are pretty poor quality for sandwiches, they simply get too hard in their lunch box. All the nutritional values is usually low.

    My best rec for an super easy GF, super nutritious bread is the low carb, flax bread. It seriously takes a few minutes to prepare- so make a huge batch to freeze, cut into small sandwich sized squares- then slice them lengthwise to make your sandwich. My girls really like it.

    But is IS ok to do a lunch with out bread, too.. we do it all the time.


  32. Jessica Leminger

    Please keep in mind that spelt (like the one in your cold salad above) is not gluten free. Thanks for all your great ideas!

    1. Jessica,
      Yes, I know, that’s why I mentioned quinoa and millet as the GF option but using the general cold grain salad outline as a recipe. 🙂 Katie

  33. My son also is in first grade. Last year in full-day K, he brought a PB&J for lunch every day. This year, he announced that what he wants every day is hummus and carrot sticks.

    Fantastic Foods makes an all-natural instant hummus mix that our food co-op sells in bulk. After adding olive oil, it costs about 75c per cup of prepared hummus, which is enough for 3 kid lunches, and it takes <5 minutes to make! It is gluten-free.

    1. Brandis @ Crunchy Thrify Cool

      I wish my daughter would eat hummus! Neither of my kids will dip anything in anything… except for apples and carrots dipped in PB. The combo of her pickiness and not being able to use PB is going to be a challenge, but I’m determined to get a lot of variety into her lunches!

  34. Don’t forget other things to use instead of bread. Tuna salad in a scooped out cucumber is yummy. Egg salad in celery boats is delicious. A slice of jicama makes a good gluten-free “cracker” type thing. Crunchy and sweet.

  35. Great post with some terrific ideas.
    Just to let you know that Glutino makes great gluten free mixes that are so easy to bake. I have even soaked the flours over night to benefit more from the nutrition.
    They are available at Whole Foods but also online for $3.99 each. Their sandwich bread is great and so easy to make, you don’t need equipment to make it. I even make them into “english muffins” using tin rings and freeze them to use them as needed. Their french bread mix does have a great texture but a free form loaf is not really possible with GF flour.
    Check it out.

    1. Jessica Leminger

      FYI, this recipe actually worked for me for hand made rolls!! My son actually had “fluffy” rolls! You should try it:

  36. Andrea Sooter

    This is a fabulous post!! After a very hectic year of getting a new company off the ground and working 14+ hours a day most every day, I am slowly getting back into the groove of cooking and homemaking. We ate so healthy before! I am debating going towards a more paleo eating style to eliminate bread- DH will eat a whole loaf in a day if I don’t watch him! I really loved what you said about bread solely being a cab filled vehicle. So true! Thanks for all the ideas, definitely printing this for when I lose creativity in eating healthy!!

  37. Our school is tree nut free. It’s a bit of a pain, since DD would happily eat PBJ four times a day. It makes me be more creative and DD probably eats better because of it. There is also a strict “no trading” policy which I love since DD would trade for HFCS and nitrates every time.

    1. Jessica Leminger

      FYI, there is something called Sunbutter, made from sunflower seeds, that is a decent substitute for those days, you just want to make them a “PB&J”. Oh, except now it’s SB&J 🙂

      1. Frugal Jen | Frugal, Freebies and Deals

        Or you can make it for really cheap with realtive ease.

        Buy a 16 ox bag of roasted unsalted sunflower seeds ( or raw and roast yourself) for under $2- throw into your food processor. I have been told if you wait long enough it will come together- but I don’t like waiting that long so I drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil- there you go, sun butter for 1/2 price- took about 5 minutes.


        1. I have been desperate to try sunbutter at home, but all attempts to date have been completely awful! I make raw almond butter for myself, but am realizing that my nut allergies are becoming more pronounced for some reason so I’d like to try sunbutter again (the nut allergic kids are too afraid to even TRY it). Thanks for the recipe – I think I was using raw sunflower seeds which might have been the big mistake!

      2. We’ve tried several brands of sunflower seed butter–the kids don’t really like any of them. My favorite is “Naturally Nutty”–started by a mom looking for nut free, GF options.

        1. Karen,
          We didn’t really like the sunbutter, either, unfortunately. Cream cheese and jelly is a fav though!
          🙂 Katie

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.