It only seemed fitting that at this time of year a post about back to school lunches and snack ideas would be a valuable resource to any parent getting ready for another year of school with a gluten free child. I remember when I was in grade school my main staple for lunch was leftovers. Not to knock leftovers, but since the products nowadays are nowhere near the consistency of cardboard like the bread and products I was used to, I am excited for the opportunity to send my children with a multitude of different healthy and tasty options.
Calgary's Gluten Free Marketplace has kindly donated a $50 gift card to their store to help you with your back to school gluten free grocery shopping.
The Gluten Free Marketplace is an amazing store that offers thousands of gluten free products, unique products you cannot find anywhere else and also sound of mind that everything is 100% gluten free.
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Now on with the fabulous gluten free lunch ideas:
1. Sandwich- a staple, but allows a variety of different fixings:
- Peanut Butter and/or Jam
- Cheese and Apple on Raisin Bread (personal favorite!)
- Deli Meat (cut out holes to make fun faces in deli meat)
- Almond Butter and bananas (also great made with waffles rather than sandwich bread)
2. Leftovers packed in a thermos- options are unlimited. Make sure to purchase a thermos that keeps items hot for 5 hours or discuss microwave options with your school.
3. Wraps- brown rice wraps filled with a multitude of options:
- Spinach and sharp cheddar
- Taco Wrap (meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, etc)
- Tuna/Chicken Salad
- Sweet Wrap with peanut butter and bananas, cream cheese/yogurt with berries
- Cheese and ham/chicken
4. Make Your Own Lunchables: meat, cheese, crackers, pickles, cucumber, etc.
5. Pizza- use a gluten free pizza crust, tortilla or english muffin with a variety of toppings. Can be made ahead of time or sent as an assemble your own pizza.
6. Salad- a healthy alternative but not a favorite for all children. To help liven up the salad, add children's favorite vegetables, favorite fruits (berries, mango), dried cranberries, nuts, cheese, meats and their favorite dressing in a separate container. Another great alternative that is a favorite of ours is a quinoa or pasta salad which offers some good carbohydrates along with a plentiful amount of vegetables.
7. Vegetables and Fruit with or without Dip- finger food are always a favorite with children, a few good combinations are:
- Vegetables with ranch or yogurt dip
- Apples with caramel dip
- Fruit with yogurt dip
- Fruit with a mix of nutella and yogurt dip (a creation from my daughter Taylor)
- Ants on a log with peanut butter or almond butter and raisins or dried cranberries
8. Rice/Noodle Stirfry with Meat and Vegetables
9. Muffins/Breads: not all muffins and breads need to be sweet, they can be savory and pack with good nutrients. Great lunch and snack ideas are zucchini muffins/loaf, carrot muffins, pizza muffins, fruit muffins, banana bread.
10. Soups- homemade or store bought soups in a thermos are a great option as fall turns into the colder days of winter. Other options are stews or chili.
11. Pasta- pasta is a kid favorite and can be served with numerous different vegetables and sauces and stores great in a thermos. My kids personal favorite is mac and cheese with broccoli or spinach.
12. Finger Foods- chicken nuggets, fish sticks, mini hot dogs are all now available in stores as gluten free or can be made homemade. What kids doesn't like to play with their food.
Aside from what goes into the lunch, I think a key asset to preparing a gluten free lunch is also the containers. We found these wonderful containers that have interchangeable sections and they allow you to pack a multitude of different items into one container and keep them all separate.
Most importantly, a lunch has to be something your kids will love, is healthy and fun. If you have a fantastic gluten free lunch idea, please share it in the comments below.