Back-to-school means it’s time to come up with some great lunch ideas for kids. As someone who tries to avoid gluten as much as possible, it can be tricky to come up with something gluten free that is easy and quick to make when lunchtime rolls around. Here I’ve compiled a list of possibilities — keep it handy for inspiration! All of these are inexpensive and pretty quick to throw together. Also, I don’t do weird ingredients. Who needs that kind of complication in an already hectic life? 🙂
As a homeschool mom, I don’t have a lot of experience with packing lunches, I’m afraid. Some of these just won’t be able to be transported outside the home — but many of them will! I’ve placed them at the top of the list.
10 Gluten Free Lunch Ideas for Kids
Finding gluten free lunch ideas for your children may seem like an impossible task. Maybe you have been gluten free for a while but you are out of ideas. Here are 10 of them to help inspire you!
1) Lettuce wraps — Grab a big piece of leaf lettuce or romaine and spread some mayo and/or mustard on it. Then layer on deli meat and cheese (the combinations here are endless) and roll it up. You can secure these with a toothpick for eating at home or just wrap them tightly in plastic wrap to pack them in a lunchbox. I personally eat these all. the. time, and my kids like them, too. It can take two or three to make a meal, but they are more yummy than they sound. You’ll have to try them and see! A side of potato or corn chips goes well, or maybe some black olives to put on the end of some fingers (don’t tell me you’ve never done that!). 🙂
2) Tomato soup and popcorn — These two things go really well together. It’s fun to float the popcorn in the soup! But it’s not necessary, lol. You can add a side of baby carrots and/or celery sticks and ranch dressing. For packing purposes, the soup can go into a thermos in order to stay hot.
3) Tuna salad or chicken salad or egg salad — I could have cheated and made these three different choices, lol. But maybe your kid only likes one or two of them. The basic process is the same — combine the drained tuna (or cooked, chopped chicken or hard-boiled, chopped egg) with some mayo and some chopped onion and celery. Add some salt and pepper to taste. These can just be eaten with a fork (maybe packed in a small plastic container), or they can be wrapped in lettuce and secured as in #1. Some fruit would taste really yummy alongside.
4) Speaking of fruit, sometimes just some apple wedges and sliced cheese go over really well. Add a handful of nuts for additional protein. Ooo, and some raisins. If this doesn’t seem like enough, then add some chunks of cooked chicken or other leftover meat, or maybe a hard-boiled egg.
5) Ham & cream cheese roll-ups — I mentioned something similar to this in my list of Cheap & Easy Meals for Summer, but that one included tortillas, which are a gluten-y NO NO. (Unless you want to pay a bunch more for gluten free tortillas, which is not the frugal way to enjoy gluten free living…) So for this you just take a slice of deli ham and spread cream cheese on it (okay, I admit it, this part is a little putzy. It can be easy to tear the ham… but we’re not after food presentation awards here, lol; just keep swimming), then roll it up like a spiral. You can leave it as is or cut it into slices, which are fun for kids to eat. This is a surprisingly yummy combination. Applesauce (I always sprinkle in some cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg) would be a tasty side with this.
6) Rice cakes with peanut butter and jelly — Make a PB & J but with rice cakes as the “bread.” Mmmmm. Cucumber spears and ranch dressing would provide a nice contrast to the sweetness of the “sandwich.”
7) Nachos — You could send these to school, but they’d have to be eaten cold, so that might not be very popular. At home, though, just throw a handful of corn chips on a plate and sprinkle some grated cheese on top. Into the microwave for a few seconds (Literally. Just long enough to melt the cheese.) and you’re good to go. If you want to get creative, you can add some salsa on top, or other nacho-ish toppings. Some refried beans on the side for dipping would also be yummy.
8) Rice bowls — If you’ve got leftover rice from dinner last night, throw some canned black beans on top and heat the whole thing up in the microwave. You can add cheese or chopped green onion or cilantro or chopped tomato or just about anything. Yea, baby. Nutritious and tasty.
9) Tostadas — This is another easy favorite around our house. It’s also on the list of Cheap & Easy Meals for Summer, so I’ll let you click on through to find out how to make them. But I’ll also let you in on a secret: they’re yummy all year round. 🙂
10) Hot dogs without buns — Who says a hot dog HAS to have a bun? Just slice it on a plate with some ketchup and mustard for dipping. Or you can venture onto the wild side and get CHEESE DOGS. Woot! French fries, potato chips, fruit, cole slaw — basically anything goes with hot dogs. Am I right?
So now we’ve got two weeks’ worth (counting only school days, that is) of gluten free lunch ideas for kids that can be rotated to our hearts’ desires. Many of these are easy enough for older kids to make for themselves. And all of them are yummy enough for mommy to eat, too! 🙂
What is your kids’ favorite lunch?