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Back-to-School: A Week of PB&J Alternatives for Lunch

Kids want a fun and tasty lunch. Parents want a safe and healthy lunch their kids will actually eat. With peanut and other food allergies on the rise, more families are looking for alternatives to the traditional PB&J. This week of peanut-free lunch box options is sure to satisfy kids and their parents.


Monday: Cheese and pear sandwich – spread lightly toasted bread with a thin layer of honey mustard, top with a slice of cheese and thinly sliced pear.

Pack with cherry tomatoes, snap pea crisps, melon pieces and milk or nut-free milk alternative.

Tuesday: Sunflower butter and jelly sandwich – there are many peanut-free spread alternatives. They are made from soybeans, sunflower seeds or tree nuts. If you can’t find one free of your allergens, you can make your own using safe seeds such as pepitas.

Pack with carrot sticks, kale chips, applesauce, and milk or nut-free milk alternative.

Wednesday: Pita filled with hummus, grilled vegetables and olives - hummus is creamy and delicious. Grilled vegetables add sweetness and olives add saltiness. All the things kids love about peanut butter and jelly! There are many brands available, but it is also easy to make.

Pack with strawberries, Harvest Oat Cookies and milk or nut-free milk alternative.

Thursday:  Cream cheese and apple butter sandwich – spread cream cheese on bread or a bagel. You can also use a dairy-free cream cheese alternative. Switch things up by pairing with apple butter instead of the usual jelly or jam.

Pack with celery sticks, fruit leather and milk or nut-free milk alternative.

Friday: Avocado and tomato sandwich – spread bread with mashed avocado and top with tomato slices and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Pack tortilla chips with roasted red pepper dip, carrots, grapes and milk or nut-free milk alternative.

Still Need More Ideas?

Check out our Allergy-Friendly School Lunch Box Ideas.  Need ideas other than peanut-free?

Join our community to follow our blog for the latest new food finds and allergy-friendly recipes.



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DS has ana dairy and a few others, plus a few other allergic conditions that complicate reactions- I hear you on the "nut" focus, when a split cup of milk, or smear of ice cream, or infants with milk bottles would give me a heart attack. I get that feeling from dealing with allergies in general- that everyone is so in tune with nuts. I hope you'll stick around for the forum support- it's unbeatable- and many of us have a top 8 plus more to avoid- in ourselves as well as children.

Thanks for the feedback - I can totally understand about the subtle language.

So sorry to hear about the recent reactions. How are you holding up after that? How is your son doing? It can take time to "decompress" and get back to "normal" again after a reaction. And even harder after 2 in succession. We have an After the Epi where members can share their story and get support from others who have been there.

@Kathy P  I always appreciate education or even mentioning common allergens. I've had a number of allergy free families point out to me that their dairy item or egg item is nut free. I've had people insist items are "safe" to my son when they contain 2 or 3 of his allergens. My son is top 8 except finned fish plus some so it's an endless conversation with people who are trying to be considerate and honestly don't understand that allergies outside of nuts can be dangerous.

The constant focus on nuts is I'm sure very helpful for those with only nut/peanut allergies, but all the "milk or nut free milk alternative" -  why not just say "milk or milk alternative?" Why not suggest a water or juice? There is a lot of subtle language that happens which leads people to focus in on no nut=safe for all. The article is a good step for people whose concern is nut-based. For people with other major allergens, these types of "back to school, here's how to be nut free" can be a step backwards. Now people are sending foods just as deadly, but they are convinced they are safe and less likely to be helpful if the allergen putting a child a risk is not a nut because in their minds they have already made a concession and now you are asking more. 

I appreciate any awareness and help in general, so I don't mean it to be all negative. It's a huge pet peeve of mine how unequally allergens are treated-  says the mom who has had to epi her son twice in the last couple months from other people's not believing the danger of dairy allergies.

Thank you for that feedback @mistysue. It can be very frustrating when the focus is on peanuts, but your kids are allergic to other things that are common as well. That used to frustrate me when my kids were younger - we had to avoid peanuts in their classroom, but all the alternatives were issues for my kids (dairy, egg, corn).

We strive to make our food and recipe blogs accessible to everyone, but that's not always possible. For instance, top-8 free recipes are not always useful for those who don't avoid wheat since flours can't always be easily swapped out. In this lunchbox series, we also did menus for dairy-free, egg-free, and wheat-free. How would you have liked us to do things differently? In this menu, we did use cheese and cream cheese which could be swapped out for dairy-free versions. Should we have been more specific about that? More education about which allergens are most common in children?

We always welcome member feedback and ideas on how to better meet the needs of our members.

Yes, it was about PB&J but "no PB- take a bunch of cheese and dairy" is a constant thing. It's advice everywhere and always frustrating. Parents share things like this and everybody proudly shows up PB free but still deadly to kids with the most common childhood allergen.   

I know you do a lot of other posts with things, I appreciate this site and didn't mean it to be ungrateful. It would just be nice if the back to school "don't do nuts" posts were chosen to be lighter on other common allergens. Everybody is already sending cheese, it's more common than PBJ to begin with so it doesn't need more introductions.

Misty - this particular blog post was about pb&j options since pb&j is often a popular thing to pack for school lunches and it is also quite messy! We have had posts in the past about all kinds of options for various allergies. For more ideas, check out our recipe database -

You are "kids with food allergies" not "kids with nut allergies" it would be cool if you posted items that steer clear of most top allergens or at least the most common childhood allergens.

Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
1235 South Clark Street Suite 305, Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 1-800-7-ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462)
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