5 Tips for Gluten-Free Lunches

Any parent who’s ever been the lunch box (or brown bag) chef
knows the challenges of packing foods that will look appealing at noon, will be at that Goldilocks temperature (not too hot, not too cold), and will actually be eaten by the intended kid.

Now add the challenge of packing a gluten-free (or nut-free, dairy-free, or egg-free) lunch!

Natural markets now offer many gluten-free versions of kids’ favorites, but if you’d like some extra inspiration, consider the following tips for creating appealing gluten-free and stress-free lunch box meals that won’t break the budget. Just be sure to read labels to ensure that foods you purchase are indeed gluten free.

  1. Keep it simple. You’re probably cooking dinners sans gluten already, so when you can, prepare a meal you know your child will enjoy as leftovers next day. Just be sure to invest first in a couple of unbreakable thermos food jars. Leftover gluten-free versions of spaghetti, chicken drumsticks, homemade soup, or mac and cheese are good choices.
  2. Up the ante. Of fresh fruits and veggies, that is. Slice favorite fruits and veggies and pack either kabob style or for dipping in hummus (veggies) or peanut butter for fruits. Check out Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom for a solution that keeps sliced apples, peaches, and pears crisp and colorful without leaving the lemon-juice tartness that kids don’t like.
  3. Bottoms up! Instead of sugary drinks in boxes, pack filtered water or a smoothie to wash down that tasty lunch. Try a frosty banana or tropical smoothie—excellent ways to get more fruits into your child’s diet too. Chocolate low-fat milk is also a popular choice.
  4. Treat them right. After all, man (and child) does not live by gluten-free bread alone. From corn chips and salsa to a little dark chocolate, a handful of almonds, or a cup of custard with a macaroon, going gluten free shouldn’t mean going treat free. When time permits, make flourless chocolate cake or cookies made with gluten-free flour and add an occasional treat to lunch boxes during the week.
  5. Stress less. Don’t hesitate to fall back on gluten-free bagels and breads for your child’s favorite sandwiches. (Make sure that fillings are gluten free as well.)