Every day, Gluten Free (GF) kids head off to school each day without the ability to buy lunch in the cafeteria, or given very limited choices. Even if you are planning to work with your school district’s nutrition services to determine possible GF options for your child, that will take time and there will probably be quite a few lunches needed before that happens.
Here are some easy ideas for those first few days:
- Cut up fruits and veggies
- GF brands of corn chips with a container of salsa
- Corn tortilla wraps
- Hard boiled eggs – a favorite in our house
And if your child can eat dairy:
- Cheese sticks
- Cottage cheese containers
- Yogurt with some GF granola to mix in
One of the most important gluten free lunch box purchases is a small hot thermos – I recommend buying a high quality camping thermos, not a kid’s one. You will want to be sure the food was still hot at lunch time, and we always heat the thermos with some boiling water before putting in the food.
Here are some hot lunch suggestions:
- Rice – plain is fine, but homemade chicken fried rice is even better
- Soup – You can make it from scratch, but there are more and more GF brands available every day
- Mac & cheese – Trader Joe’s makes a good one that is also the cheapest, but there are other brands, too
It probably seems like time you won’t have to make a hot lunch while also making breakfast, but kids love to help, and before you know it, they will be heating things up in the microwave and boiling up the mac & cheese noodles themselves.
Your child will probably notice right away that turkey or PBJ sandwiches are no longer showing up in lunches. As most people discover, packaged gluten free breads are prohibitively expensive and don’t taste all that great. There are definitely some good mixes available, but expense and taste are a consideration with those as well.
If you enjoy making yeast breads from scratch, Nicole Hunn’s Gluten Free on a Shoestring is an excellent resource. If you have the time and inclination to bake, this is the place to go for recipes and tips – everything from sandwich bread, tortillas and hamburger buns, to muffins and cookies of all kinds. If you want to splurge on bakery bread and live in the Minneapolis / St Paul metro area, Bittersweet Bakery is a favorite of ours.
In a few more years, maybe our schools will have as many Gluten Free options in the cafeteria as grocery stores and restaurants are starting to have in the real world. In the meantime, lunch from home can have lots of variety and nutrition for our Gluten Free kids. It may take a little extra time and planning, but maybe not as much as you think, and it is totally worth it!