Am I already in a rut? Really?!?!?!
The kiddos have been back to school for just over a month now, and I swear to you, I have run out of steam when it comes to packing lunches. Already!!!
Maybe it’s because after their first week of school, we packed up and moved! I’m still exhausted just thinking about it. We still have things in boxes (although we’re about 90% unpacked now) and basically no pictures are on the walls. We kind of whipped our new house into an unpack-enough-to-get-by state, and we’re still there.
Each weekend I unpack a few more boxes, bring over another load of odds and ends we somehow missed from my parents’ house, and try to figure out what color I want to paint at least one room, so maybe… just maybe, we can get some artwork on the walls and have this place looking like a real home soon. Our home.
Everything is different now. We didn’t just move from one house to another, we changed our family dynamic. The kids and I had been living with my parents for the past decade. Now that I’m newly married, my husband and I wanted a place of our own, to make our own little life as a family of four (plus Star, our pooch, of course). We got it, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! In the meantime, we’re trying to work out new systems for our family — daily life kind of stuff. Chore calendars, after school homework times, new morning breakfast routines… I’m mildly overwhelmed.
Maybe you’re still in smooth-sailing mode as far as coming up with creative, healthy, fun and allergy-safe lunch ideas for your kids. I hope so! But if you’re like me — completely in over your head for whatever reason — and you need a little kickstart thinking of those lunch ideas, read on:
Being that I’m too overwhelmed/tired/lazy/insert-adjective-here to actually think up my own new allergy-friendly lunches right now, I decided to take to the Google and see what everyone else is making.
Gluten-Free and Allergy-Friendly
The first place I hit was one of my favorite allergy-friendly lunch websites, Keely McGuire. This mom has it together. You know all those adorable lunches you see on Pinterest with the sandwiches cut into shapes and the fruit that spells out “I love you!” Well, she can do all that while keeping it allergy-friendly. You go, girl! While I personally don’t have the drive/motivation/creativity/insert-yet-another-adjective-here to make Jillian’s lunch fit a visual theme, I do appreciate her effort and it makes me want to try a heart-shaped cookie cutter on some apple slices every once in a while. 🙂
If you have to avoid dairy completely, like we do, just poke around her site. A lot of her lunches are free of dairy, but not all are. Usually a simple substitution is all that’s needed for the ones that aren’t.
Nut-free lunches are becoming quite popular these days. You may need to make them for your child’s own allergy or perhaps your little one attends a nut-free school (or maybe she wants to sit with her friend at a nut-free table). Whatever your reason, you can’t go wrong with these nut-free lunch ideas from 100 Days of Real Food.
Lactose intolerant or milk allergic? Check out these creative and adorable (hello, black bean taco cups… I’m talking to you!) dairy-free lunch box ideas from MOMables. I can’t help it — I’m a sucker for pictures of cute lunches! There’s just something about seeing all of the lunch components together in one picture that makes meal planning so much easier for me. Does it help you, too?
If you’re like us and you’re avoiding all dairy and eggs, sometimes vegan lunches are a perfect fit! VegKitchen has some awesome vegan and vegetarian meal and snack ideas for kids. Just keep in mind that vegetarian doesn’t mean dairy-free or egg-free, and neither one is necessarily nut-free, so check each recipe carefully!
Safe After School Snacks
Finally, my contribution to this allergy-friendly food list is a little different — it’s for after your kiddos get home from school. My top 20 allergy-friendly after school snacks are free of dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. They don’t have to be just for after school, though. You can pack most of them in a lunch box, too! You might want wait until they get home for the frozen treats, like my fruit smoothies & smoothie popsicles. But my allergy-friendly trail mix recipe is super simple and a perfect lunchtime side — whip up a batch at the beginning of the week, and scoop out 1/2 cup portions all week long.
After looking at all those allergy-friendly lunches, I know I feel a lot more inspired to make my weekly lunch menu now. I hope you do, too!