October 15, 2012 4 Comments
One convenience I’ll never enjoy as a gluten-free mom, is letting my kid buy his lunch from the school cafeteria. He will forever have to “brown bag” it. In his preschool, I was able to send dinner leftovers, which his teachers could microwave for him. But in elementary school, I need to send him meals that will keep well and don’t need to be reheated. Here is the standard lunch I send with my son to school (along with my own tricks/tips that help make it easier):
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Udi’s bread
- My son likes his sandwiches sans crust, so I cut off the crusts first, and save them to make bread crumbs or bread cubes for stuffing/croutons.
- If your school is a Nut-Free Zone, use sunflower seed butter instead.
- For the jelly, try to buy a squeeze bottle to avoid contaminating the jar with crumbs. Or perfect the “glob drop” technique (Drop globs of jelly onto the bread before you use that knife to spread the jelly out). Or have a dedicated jar just for gluten-free sandwiches.
- I actually use an idea inspired by those gluten-full Smucker’s “Uncrustables” freezer sandwiches. I take a whole loaf of Udi’s bread to make 6 or 7 sandwiches at the beginning of the week, and keep them in the freezer. Then they’re ready to grab in the mornings as I throw my son’s lunch together.
- Carrots and dip
- I’m a carrot stick snob. I peel and cut up my own carrot sticks from whole carrots. These just taste SO MUCH better than processed “baby” carrots. Once, in a pinch, I sent the processed carrots in his school lunch, and my son complained how they didn’t taste very good.
- I use plain yogurt to make the ranch dip. Usually I take a 32 oz container of plain yogurt and mix in one package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dips Mix. This makes a much healthier dip than using the suggested 16 oz of sour cream. Then I can send in a little portion of dip in something like a 1/2 cup GladWare container.
- Fresh fruit
- Apple slices (To prevent browning in the hours before lunch time, I dip slices into a bowl of ice water plus a few splashes of lemon juice.)
- Pineapple chunks
- If I’m low on fresh produce, I can send in an applesauce or fruit cup (preferably one packed in JUICE, not syrup!)
I also send in a gluten free SNACK.
- Rice cakes like Quaker Apple Cinnamon Rice Cakes
- Gluten free pretzels
- Popcorn (check labels if flavored) or SmartFood
- Gluten free crackers like Blue Diamond Nut Thins (We love the new “Hint of Sea Salt” flavor of these!)
Of course there are LOTS of other gluten free LUNCH or SNACK options to do… this is just what works for us.
You may also want to try:
- Gluten free muffins (bake your own or try these fantastic ones from Udi’s)
- Quesadillas made with corn tortillas
- Gluten free lunch meat like turkey or ham slices
- Cheese sticks (check labels)
- Hard cooked eggs
- Fruit snacks (check labels)
- Trail mix (check labels)
- Corn chips like Tostidos or Fritos (check labels)
- Potato chips (check labels)
- Pirate’s Booty or other cheese-flavored snacks (check labels)
I’d love to hear about your healthy school lunch strategies for keeping your child happily eating gluten free. Please share with us!