It really doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning, middle, or the dragging end of the school year—packing a healthy and delicious lunch for your children is always a challenge. Add food issues to the mix and dang, there goes your weekend.
I’m here to help you out before you lose your mind/let your kid take frozen pizza to lunch every day for the rest of the year. As a celiac and mom to two kids who have other food restrictions at school, I’ve gotten creative in my lunch box packing. The great news about these lunch box options? They require little knowledge of cooking and are all kid-tested and approved.
Bowls of Goodness
You’ll feel like a parenting super star packing all these nutrients into one little bowl for your kiddo’s lunch. Put these lunches in a heat-retaining container so they can be enjoyed as nature intended. Pro tip: Make extra because you’re going to want these bowls of goodness in your own lunch bag.
Cuban Rice & Beans—Heat canned black beans on stovetop on medium-high heat, liquid included. Add garlic, salt, pepper and a dash of hot sauce and cook for 10 minutes or until liquid has cooked down. Serve with brown or white rice.
Quinoa, Broccoli & Cheese—Cook quinoa according to directions, keep on medium heat after quinoa has reached desired temperature. Add 1 cup chopped broccoli and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Heat until cheese is melted and mixed thoroughly.
Faux Spaghetti-Os—Cook package of gluten-free pasta of your choice—the more fun shapes the better—per directions. Drain pasta and add 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce along with salt, pepper and garlic powder to pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.
Wrap it Up
Anything you can put in a sandwich, you can put in a gluten-free brown rice wrap, corn tortilla, or Paleo wrap. Trust me on this one, as I’m living that gluten-free sandwich dream. Here are 5 combos that will have your gf kid begging for every day to be Wrap Wednesday. (Note: If you’ve got a kid with additional dairy issues, skip the cheese.)
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese
Roast Beef, Cheddar & Spicy Mustard
Roasted Potatoes, Black Beans & Cheese
Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato
Turkey & Avocado
Dessert for Little GFers
This may be the most painful for the kids who stare longingly at their neighbor’s snack cakes. While we go with fruit at our house—and I recommend you always toss some favorite fruit into any lunch box—here are a few other ideas for special occasions or a particularly tough Monday.
Frozen Yogurt Sticks—If your kid loves the squeezable yogurts you can pick up in the dairy section, go one step further and keep them in the freezer. They’ll still be chill by lunch, and feel great going down.
Chocolate Covered Pretzels—An easy treat to make and eat, pick up some gluten-free pretzels at the store and chocolate chips (sub white chocolate if that’s your thing). Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30-second increments until smooth, then dip the pretzels in all the way, or halfway depending on your taste. Allow pretzels to dry on waxed or parchment paper, and voila!
Brownies, Brownies, Brownies—You can’t swing a cat in a grocery store without hitting at lease three pre-packaged gluten-free brownie mixes. Snatch those up for dessert emergencies, and be sure you know how to substitute alternative milks like almond or coconut, for the dairy-free.