Worried about packing a gluten-free school lunch for your gluten-free child?
Wondering if you can do this in a quick and efficient manner every morning?
Feeling pressure from millions of blogs showing you clever ways to create lunches, yet few focus on gluten-free lunches and most you just don’t have time for?
I assure you that you are not alone!
I’m desperately looking for ways to ease the lunch making process in my house. While I’m the one who eats gluten-free in this house, my entire house is exclusively gluten-free. So when this mama makes lunch for her kiddos, it’s got to be 100% gluten-free.
Below, I share my tips to preparing gluten-free lunches for your child to take to school. I, too, used to stress about it and the morning rush was maddening at my house. Not anymore. I’ve got this figured out and so can you too.
Keep reading because I also offer you a free download – a list of 101 Gluten-Free Back-to-School Lunch Products. This is a great reference list of GF products you can grab and pack for your kid’s lunch each morning.
I look forward to seeing what you think of my ideas and if you have any tips of your own to help me and other gluten-free mamas out there! (P.S. Leave me a comment with your best gluten-free lunch packing tip please!)
Lunch Idea #1: Make Your Own Lunchable-Style Lunch
I don’t have to tell you how low-quality the average Lunchable® is, filled with gluten, processed meats and fruit juices. You can easily make your own “lunchable” style lunch at home with high quality ingredients and a little creativity too!
You’ll want to be sure to get your child a bento lunch lunchbox like this one I found on Amazon.* A bento box is commonly used in Japan and enables you to bring a variety of prepared foods, not just sandwiches, all packaged in little compartments within your lunch box. You can also use mini storage containers to portion out a variety of foods if you don’t have a Bento box.
As for the contents of the Bento box, this is where you can get really creative! Here are some fun combinations to consider:
- Gluten-Free Corn Chips + Hummus + Baby Carrots + Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)
- Mini Caprice Skewers + Gluten-Free Crackers + Quinoa Salad or Quinoa Cup
- Hard Boiled Egg + Gluten-Free Waffle + Peanut Butter + Apple Slices
- Turkey Roll Ups + Gluten-Free Crackers + Black Bean Dip + Mandarin Orange Slices
- Guacamole + Gluten-Free Corn Chips + Pulled Chicken + Spicy Cauliflower Rice
- Bean & Corn Dip + Spicy Brown Rice + Corn Tortillas + Diced Melon
- Mini Meatballs or Mini Meatloaves + Marina Dip + Gluten-Free Pasta + Fruit of Choice
- Cut Up Hot Dogs + Salsa + Gluten-Free Corn Chips + Edamame Skewers
- Cream Cheese & Lox Rolls + Egg Salad + Fresh Berries
- Tuna Salad + Gluten-Free Crackers + Cut Up Fresh Fruit
- Veggie Sushi Rolls + Tamari Dipping Sauce + Tofu Strips
Note: Groupon has a FANTASTIC deal on a Bentgo Kids Lunchbox* – hurry!
Lunch Idea #2: Think Outside Traditional Sandwich Bread
Another great way to create a gluten-free lunch is to wrap your sandwich in something other than bread. As most anyone following a gluten-free diet knows, gluten-free bread leaves much to be appreciated. Many brands try – and I do enjoy Three Baker’s Bread* and Outside the Breadbox gluten-free breads – but the rest I can definitely do without.
Consider these great non-bread sandwich wrappers:
- Nori – Use seaweed squares to roll your next sandwich. Sushi isn’t just for fish and veggies, you can add cream cheese and lox, deli meat and mayo, and just about anything you’re craving. Prepare your nori (roasted seaweed)* with this sushi rice*, then stuff with whatever you child likes. It’s delic and fun!
- Lettuce Leaves – Large romaine or iceberg leaves made great sandwich wraps and are much healthier too! You can use lettuce as a wrap or a cup depending on what you’re serving.
- Cucumber Bread – Slice a cucumber in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and fill the cucumber with whatever you want in your sandwich. Most kids I know like cucumbers and it’s a “safe” vegetable option.
- Gluten-Free Waffles – Use gluten-free waffles as the bread of your sandwich. It adds a little sweetness and is delicious too!
- Corn Tortillas – A corn tortilla makes a great sandwich bread alternative. I heat one up in the microwave for 15 seconds, wrap it in alumni foil and then allow my son to assemble his own sandwich at school.
- Rice Paper Wraps – Rice paper wrappers* make a great sandwich alternative. You can put anything you want inside the rice paper wrap and your child will have a fun way to enjoy his or her meal. Consider adding quinoa, tofu or shredded chicken and carrots inside.
Lunch Idea #3: Make Purposeful Leftovers
Leftover dinner makes a wonderful lunch for your child the next day. On most nights, I make a lot of extra food so I can have lunch the next day, and so my kids can take my leftovers for lunch. This is my favorite and best strategy to ensuring school lunches are prepared quickly each morning.
Easy leftovers to repurpose the next morning might include stews, meatballs, hamburgers, stir-fry, baked salmon, and anything really! If you’re as excited about this tip as I am, you might want to read more of my gluten-free meal planning tips.
Most of my dinners are hot meals, so it’s important to invest in a hot/cold thermos container – the one I have keeps meals hot for up to five hours. I simply heat up the meal before school, place it in the thermos, and send my child off to school. My kids tell me their lunches are still hot by the time they get to enjoy it.
This is the exact hot/cold thermos I send with my kids – click here to see it.*
Lunch Idea #4: Have Quick Grab Items Stocked
We all get stuck and in a jam – after all, always prepping and planning for school lunches can wear on you after awhile. That’s why I always keep a bunch of gluten-free, pre-packaged quick grab items on hand to so I can quickly assemble in a pinch.
Click here or on the image below to download my free list of 101 Gluten-Free Back-to-School Products. You’ll be packing the best [gluten-free] lunches on the block in no time!
Take time to explore Amazon and the aisles of your grocery store for other quick-grab items. I often find new ones that I don’t know how my family lived without before!
*Denotes affiliate link. I include affiliate links so you can see the products I recommend on Amazon and purchase them directly if you desire. When you support my affiliate links, you support my blog and allow me to continue to create great content for the gluten-free community. Thank you! –GF Jenny