Have your kids started school yet, or is the start of school just around the corner for them? In our area schools are gearing up to start next week, and while I’m bummed summer is coming to an end I am excited about all the fun Back to School items I am seeing in the stores. For us, school and Fall will be about getting back into more of a routine with my family, which I am really looking forward to.
I have heard many parents having mixed emotions about back to school including some grumblings because they have to get back into the routine of packing lunches again, and are at a loss.
Last year around this time I shared nut and egg-free lunch ideas and I’m back to to share them again with you this year. These lunches are allergy-friendly, healthy and balanced, and the kids will love them!
This year my daughter will be in preschool, and as with most preschools ours is nut-free. Before I had a child with food allergies I didn’t quite understand the need for schools to go nut-free, after all, aren’t children also allergic to other things? In our case we know my daughters allergy to kiwi is life-threatening (read about how we discovered her kiwi allergy was so severe here,) so would schools ban all of their kids allergens?! That wouldn’t seem possible and realistic for schools to do with such diverse range of food allergies in children these day.
Now that I’ve been educated about nut allergies, I, along with other food allergy parents, are super grateful for schools that are banning nuts and nut butters. My eyes and ears are more sensitive now to the words ‘peanuts’ and ‘peanut butter’ and I have heard many non-food allergy parents “sighing” when they hear their child’s school is nut-free and saying “What am I going to feed my child, they LOVE PB&J and I cannot get them to eat anything else!?” I get it. I do. I used to love PB&J too, but there is hope for lunch beyond the PB&J.
Peanuts and tree nuts are two of the “top 8” which means they are two of the eight most common food allergies, with peanuts being number one; and 1 in 13 children are now affected by food allergies with that number increasing each year. Chances are there are 1 or 2 children in your child’s classroom that suffer from food allergies.
While some children must ingest a food to have an allergic reaction, others can have a reaction just by the proteins in the air or by touching the surface where the food protein still resides. For instance, let’s say your child does bring a peanut butter sandwich to school and they are neat and clean up his/her area (with a napkin) after eating. The peanut-allergic child sits in the same spot your child just left. However, your child accidently missed a spot. The allergic child touches it and has an allergic reaction. This was an accident, but it could be life threatening to the child.
Since so many schools are now nut-free I wanted to provide a month of healthy and balanced lunch options for children that both have and don’t have food allergies. These options will also be egg-free (because there are so many children with egg allergies nowadays too.)
Along with the 31 lunch ideas I am sharing some of our favorite non-nut and non-egg products and brands. If you have food allergies you must do your own research and use this article only as a guide when choosing what foods, products, and companies are safe for you and your (food allergy) family.
(2) Items Used: (Applegate) Chicken Nuggets; Applesauce; Sugar Snap Peas; Watermelon Cubes; Milk/Water/Your Favorite Beverage
(6) Items Used: Overnight Crockpot Chicken Fajitas (recipe coming soon); Sliced Honeydew; (HomeFree) Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies; Milk/Water/Your Favorite Beverage
(12) Items Used: (Don’t Go Nuts) Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Soybean Butter Spread; (Annie’s) Graham Crackers; (Mary’s Gone Crackers) Pretzel Sticks; Apple Slices; Banana; (Peter Rabbits Organics) Kale, Broccoli, and Mango Vegetable and Fruit Pouch; (Red Plate Foods) Granola; (Surf Sweets) Gummy Bears; Milk/Water/Your Favorite Beverage
(22) Items Used: (Sunbutter) Sunflower Seed Butter; (Newman’s Own Organics) Pretzel Sticks; (Annie’s) Fruit & Veggie Animal Crackers; Mini Cucumber Slices; Cantaloupe Slices; Milk/Water/Your Favorite Beverage
(23) Items Used: Cheese Shapes & Squares; Wheat Crackers; Raspberries; Homemade Simple Trail Mix; (Enjoy Life Foods) Mini Chocolate Chips, (Trader Joe’s) Raisins, (Go Raw) Sunflower & Pumpkin Seeds; (Honest Kids) Appley Ever After Juice
(27) Items Used: (Applegate) Turkey & Cheese (Flatout Flatbreads) Wrap Pinwheels; (Good Health Snacks) Veggie Sticks; Mini Orange; (Trader Joe’s) Dried Blueberries; (Annie’s) Mini Oatmeal Cookies; Milk/Water/Your Favorite Beverage
(30) Items Used: (Lundberg) Wild Rice with Garlic Lemon Chicken and Sautéed Zucchini; Homemade Popsicle (fruit & veggie mix – frozen); Homemade (Enjoy Life Foods) Chocolate Covered (Dandies) Marshmallow; Milk/Water/Your Favorite Beverage
I hope these lunches give you some ideas for this school year to expand beyond PB&J. Some of the lunches do include leftovers from the evening before which I reheated in the morning. I recommend investing in a thermos like the one shown which will keep food warm for 5 hours for any of the hot items shown. I also love the Rubbermaid Blox system and using silicone cupcake liners for a fun way to divide food in the lunchbox.
When preparing lunches be creative with your choices and switch out items based on what is in season and what your child likes. I aimed for making these meals balanced and not with a ton of effort as well. Getting meals prepared quickly so you can get out of the door on time sometimes is a struggle. Cut up vegetables, wash fruits, and pack non-perishable items the evening before, and if you are going to give your child a choose of what they want that day for lunch be sure to ask them the evening before as well.
Cheers to a successful and safe 2016-2017 school year for you and your family!
(While this is a guide to help you with nut and egg-free lunch ideas, please always do your own research and to use this article as a guide when choosing what foods, products, and companies are safe for your (food allergy) family. The author makes no claims regarding the presence of food allergens and disclaims all liability in connection with the use of this article and site.)
This site is not intended to provide medical advice. The suggestions here are not intended as dietary advice or as a substitute for consulting a dietician, physician, or other medical professional. It is the reader’s sole responsibility to determine which foods are appropriate and safe for his or her family to consume. Always consult your doctor. The author makes no claims regarding the presence of food allergens and disclaims all liability in connection with the use of this site.