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Allergy-Friendly School Lunch Ideas: A Week of Wheat-Free Alternatives

 

Sandwiches are often a go-to lunch option – unless you are avoiding wheat or gluten. If your child has a wheat allergy, that does not mean they can’t have tasty lunches. It gives you the chance to be a little more creative. Try our wheat- and gluten-free twists on traditional lunches!

Is your child allergic to more than just wheat? We have additional resources if you’re managing multiple food allergies. Ask other parents for lunch ideas on our Food and Cooking Support forum. Search our Safe Eats® Allergy-Friendly Recipes collection of almost 1,500 member-submitted recipes. And check out our Allergy-Friendly Foods collection for products made without many of the most common allergens.

Monday

Hearty salad: Try naturally gluten-free salads like Rainbow Scoops or Chicken Sink Salad. Both are also free of milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, sesame, fish, and shellfish. These options are yummy alternatives to pasta salad.

Pack with celery and carrot sticks, fruit gummies, and milk or milk alternative.

Wheat-free gluten-free rainbow scoop lunch box



Tuesday

Lunchables®-style stackables: Cut out pieces of deli meats or pepperoni and cheese with a cookie cutter to match the size of your child’s favorite gluten-free crackers. Place in a bento box or use small dishes or silicone baking cups to hold each item.

Pack with snow peas, gluten-free granola, and milk or milk alternative.

Wheat-free gluten-free lunchable-style lunch box

Lunchables-style stackable lunch



Wednesday

Sandwich on Wheat- and Gluten-Free Bread: Not all gluten-free breads will hold up in a lunch box, but you can still pack sandwiches with some planning:

  • Toast the bread. Gluten-free bread does much better when it is toasted. Let it cool before filling and packing so it doesn't get soggy from condensation.
  • Avoid “wet” fillings. Deli meats and cheese or milk-free “cheese” are better options than egg salad or hummus. You can pack wet fillings or things like tomatoes separately. You child can add them just before eating.
  • Pack condiments separately. Send individual packs of mustard or mayo to add just before eating.
  • Still can't find a bread that works? Try an un-sandwich by making a lettuce wrap.

Pack with a pickle spear, cinnamon and sugar apple slices, and milk or milk alternative.

wheat-free gluten-free sandwich bread



Thursday

Taco-dilla with salsa or guacamole: Spread refried beans on a soft corn tortilla. Top with taco meat and cheese or milk-free “cheese” alternative. Toast in a dry pan until the tortilla is crispy. Cool before cutting and packing.

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

Wheat-free gluten-free tacodilla and salsa

Taco-dilla with salsa



Friday

Pizza muffins with tomato dipping sauce: Add diced pepperoni and shredded mozzarella-style cheese to your favorite gluten-free biscuit recipe. Gently pat out dough, cut out, and bake. Cool completely before packing. Add a container of pizza sauce for dipping.

Pack with a green salad, mixed fruit salad, and milk or milk alternative.

Wheat-free gluten-free pizza-muffin

Pizza muffins with tomato dipping sauce



Still Need More Allergy Friendly Lunch Ideas?

Check out our Allergy-Friendly Lunch Hacks to make packing lunches a little easier, as well as these recipes:

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

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  • Wheat-free gluten-free lunchable-style lunch box: Wheat-free gluten-free lunchable-style lunch box
  • Wheat-free gluten-free pizza-muffin: Wheat-free gluten-free pizza-muffin
  • Wheat-free gluten-free rainbow scoop lunch box: Wheat-free gluten-free rainbow scoop lunch box
  • wheat-free gluten-free sandwich bread: wheat-free gluten-free sandwich bread
  • Wheat-free gluten-free tacodilla and salsa: Wheat-free gluten-free tacodilla and salsa

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Comments (10)

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Yup. For instance, I am all about environmental safety and recycling and such, but for two years when I had small children, was a single mom and had no dishwasher, I bought an obscene amount of paper plates and cups, rather than having to face a huge mound of festering dishes that I simply could not face. Do I think it was the healthiest and most ecologically-sound option? Nope. Would I recommend it to another mom going through the same thing? Absolutely.

 

Regarding processed meats, I actually have a kid who can eat meat but not nuts, and for a long time was allergic to dairy also. When I found a safe salami and lunchmeat ham, I danced a jig in the store. Food allergies can be so limiting, and (again) as a single mom, I usually don't have the money to pay for high-quality meats, nor the time to spend cooking them all the time. My kiddo looks forward to having something new in her lunchbox.

 

Lastly, most places I shop nowadays (Stop and Shop, Aldis, etc...) have nitrate-free options for things like hot dogs, salami, and lunch meat, and especially at Aldis, you can get them for around the same amount as the less-healthy options. My kiddo also has a wheat allergy, plus she had a corn allergy for years. Brands like Applegate Farms had a nice selection of very healthy, nitrate/corn/gluten-free lunchmeat options.

 

 

Hugs Helen - our life experiences and personal medical history can also effect our priorities.  We all do what we feel is right and just hope we've done due diligence and made the best choice.

 

Please check out our forums (here is our GI disorders forum) and recipes collection. If you see a recipe that looks promising, we can usually help to find substitutes and "healthier" versions of things. We are here to support you where ever you are along your journey.

Hugs Helen~. I can certainly understand the cancer concern as my husband is a lung cancer survivor. We also balance 4 kids (1 of whom is autistic with many developmental delays), food allergies, etc. I don't worry overly much re things like junk food, lunch meat etc. My kids all eat fruit and veggies, whole wheat stuff, things like salmon, etc. For my peace of mind, I have to pick and choose my battles.

Anyway, do check out our resources, forums, etc.

Steph - that's a good point - about prioritising health issues (food allergies over cancer risk). I still am uneasy of introducing another health risk into my son's life, however.  My son has 8 food allergies that we know of so far including wheat and potatoes, EoE plus environmental and I have several food involving severe anaphylactic responses to soy and shellfish and all seafood and many environmental allergies as well we both have autoimmune issues.  I will look at the Safe Eats collection.   I have childhood cancer on my mind as two good friends have had their children die from cancer.

Helen, what allergies are you managing?  I will state up front that the immediate tasks of avoiding our many allergens and filling my 4 kids' bellies 3+ x/day while educating them and running a household, plus manging a tight budget and maintaining my sanity, are always going to get priority over strict adherence to best practices for cancer avoidance.  The perfect can be the enemy of the good, sometimes.  Parenting kids with food allergies is a daily dip in the puddle of stress.  I think we can cut ourselves some slack, don't you?

 

We're sorry that you are finding the lunch alternatives unhealthy. We try to appeal to a wide range of parents and realize that everyone needs to make decisions based on their family's needs including prep time and cost. With that in mind, healthy often translates to "safe" foods. There are healthier versions - low fat, low sodium, uncured meats. 

We all have to do what is best for our own families. For instance, my son is allergic to various foods that other kids take for routinely might take for lunch (eggs, dairy) as well as peanuts, tree nuts - and the sesame and mustard allergy rules out most forms of sausage, salami, and other kinds of lunch meat, unless it is a special brand (read: pricey). 

 

For a child with few protein options who can't have it, they often want it.

 

It doesn't mean I would let him eat it every day even if he could; we like to provide options so that people can make their own decisions.

Also check out our Safe Eats collection for more ideas.

I disagree with idea that a twice weekly consumption of pepperoni or salami for a child is "moderate".  Find me a pediatric oncologist who would recommend such a diet. And look at the American and Canadian Cancer societies for nutritional advice  - both advise to avoid these foods.

As always, read labels to ensure the food is safe for your allergy set. Yes, some of these do include processed lunch meat. While not the healthiest, it is a good protein source and everything in moderation. These lunches are paired with veggies and fruit, so a good balance overall imo.

Some simple ideas but I am confused as why you are suggesting parents give their kids processed lunch meats, pepperoni, etc.  These processed meats often contain wheat as filler and are filled with carcinogenic nitrates.  Even if you find a wheat free pepperoni or lunch meat, they are still full of unhealthy levels of sodium and fat. I can't believe a health professional is actually pushing lunch meat as a healthy lunch!

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Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
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