someone holding a box of sandwiches

Gluten free School Lunch Ideas

Gluten-Free School Lunch Ideas: Making Lunchtime Exciting and Safe for your children

Packing school lunches can be a challenge for any parent. But when your child follows a gluten-free diet, the challenge can sometimes feel even more significant. What do you pack that’s not only gluten-free but also nutritious and exciting for your child? Thankfully, there are plenty of easy gluten-free lunch ideas that are both delicious and healthy. In this article, Pegs share some of her four daughters’ favorite gluten-free brown bag lunches and ideas to make your mornings a little smoother and your child’s school lunch a lot tastier.

Easy and Delicious Gluten-Free Sandwiches

When you think of school lunch, the classic sandwich often comes to mind. But if you’re on a gluten-free diet, conventional deli meats and most bread options contain gluten and are off limits.  Here are some delicious and easy gluten free sandwich options taste tested over the last 20 years by our entire family of six!

  • Gluten-Free Deli Wraps: Use our family favorite “wrapable”, not breakable, tasty gluten-free tortillas or lettuce wraps filled with gluten deli meats, cheese, and veggies. Another fun option for a wrap are rice paper spring rolls!  Remember to always check the labels of store-bought deli meats and other products, especially condiments to ensure they’re gluten-free.
  • Chicken Salad Sandwich: Make a classic chicken salad using gluten-free mayonnaise and serve it between slices of gluten-free bread or on top of a bed of greens for a salad option.
  • Gluten-Free Sun Butter and Jelly: The timeless favorite of PB and J is unfortunately not allowed in schools due to the rise of severe allergic reactions of peanut allergies. Peanut allergies are so severe that even being in a room with peanuts for many can cause a serious anaphylactic reaction. Good news, using sun-butter can be a great substitute and be easily made gluten-free by using gluten-free bread. 

Here are various brands available that offer soft, delicious bread that’s perfect for sandwiches.

Taste and style is all about preference. To toast or not, is again another preference. Our family prefers to toast their gluten free breads. #unsponsored

I look at the ingredient lists to make sure the product is truly gluten free, GMO Free as well as the type of fat/oil that is used in the ingredient list. Rapeseed, cotton seed or other highly processed vegetable oils are on my “no-thank you list”. When the kids were young and the options were few, we did what we could do for a little while. Now we are all loving the artesian breads, local bakeries making gluten free loaves, or even baking our own homemade breads. 

When you’re packing sandwiches, always ensure you’re using gluten-free bread or wraps. There’s a wide variety available in the market, making packing lunches for your gluten-free child simpler than ever.

Snack-Time Favorites: Gluten-Free Snacks for the Lunchbox

  • Gluten-Free Crackers with Cheese or Hummus: Many brands now offer so many choices for gluten-free crackers that are both tasty and crunchy. Pair them with cheese or hummus for a satisfying midday snack.
  • Naturally Gluten-Free and organic Fruits and Veggies: Carrot sticks, apple slices, or grapes are all fantastic additions to any lunchbox.
  • Store-Bought Gluten-Free Snacks: When you’re in a rush, store-bought snacks can be a lifesaver. Look for gluten-free snack bars, nut cookies, nut free allergy friendly cookies or homemade muffins or cookies are all delicious to add into the lunchbox. Always check the labels and beware of any cross-contamination risks.
  • Pegs also loved adding a special love note to the girls in their lunches too ☺ 

Additional Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas for Kids

  • Rice and Beans: A naturally gluten-free option, rice and beans provide a hearty and healthy lunch that’s easily packed into a thermos to keep warm or added into a wrap.
  • Gluten-Free Pasta Salad: Make a delicious Italian pasta salad using gluten-free pasta, veggies, and a gluten-free dressing. It’s a flexible dish where you can add whatever ingredients your child loves.
  • DIY Salad Bar: Salad in a Jar or non-breakable containers allows your child to pack their favorite fruits, veggies, protein sources like chicken, taco meat, beans. Then add their gluten-free dressing separately. Your child can have getting creative, making their own choices and have fun mixing their favorites into their salads for lunchtime.

With so many ideas, you’ll never run out of gluten-free lunch ideas for your child. If you are looking for more lunch ideas for kids, teens or worker bees, Damn Good Gluten Free Peg’s cookbook, has an entire chapter filled with yummy ideas for you!  Your kid won’t feel left out, and you’ll feel confident knowing they’re eating a healthy lunch that meets their dietary needs.

Top 5 FAQs on Gluten-Free School Lunch Ideas:

Are all deli meats gluten-free?

No, some deli meats may contain fillers or flavorings with gluten. Always read labels and choose brands that specify they’re gluten-free. Stay clear of brewers yeast, malt, hydrolyzed wheat protein are a few additives that contain gluten.

Can I find gluten-free bread easily at stores?

Absolutely! With the rising awareness of gluten-free diets, many grocery stores carry a variety of gluten-free bread options. 

How can I ensure cross-contamination doesn’t occur in packed lunches?

Use separate utensils and cutting boards when preparing gluten-free food. Ensure any shared spreads, like butter or jam, aren’t contaminated by crumbs from regular bread.

What about school lunch provided by the school cafeteria?

Some schools may offer gluten-free options. It’s essential to communicate with the school to understand their offerings and ensure safety for your child.

Can kids on a gluten-free diet eat gluten-free packaged snacks every day?

While many gluten-free snacks are available, it’s best to prioritize whole and natural foods. Reserve packaged snacks for occasional treats or convenience.

Are all condiments gluten free?

NO.  There are specific brands that are all gluten free. Read the labels because not all condiments such as mustards and sauces are not all gluten free.

Is a tuna sandwich a good idea to send to school with my child?

Nope. Its stinky. Kids love tuna, but save it for a home snack or weekend lunch.

Useful Resources for Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas:

More lunch ideas. 

Need some back to school inspiration for all your meals?

More Sandwich ideas.

Healthy School Lunches from Dr. Axe

Wrapping It Up

Sending your child to school with a safe and delicious gluten-free lunch doesn’t have to be challenging. With a little prep, some knowledge, and creative juices flowing you can ensure your child enjoys their midday meal without any worries. Remember, the key is communication and  variety – rotate between different gluten-free lunch ideas to keep things exciting and nutritious. And always talk with your kids to make sure they are eating their lunch, what would make them better, not take it personal, and listen to your kids. Help them make better choices because you took the time to connect with them and listen. I promise you they will appreciate the conversation, at all ages. And always ensure you’re updated about gluten-free options and any changes in food labeling.

Here at Curry Girls Kitchen, we are passionate about promoting healthy living and providing helpful tips, courses, cooking classes and supportive coaching programs for maintaining a delicious gluten-free lifestyle. We also have the best gluten free “how to road map” cookbook, Damn Good Gluten Free! To learn more about our healthy living resources and get delicious gluten-free recipes, make sure to sign up for our Curry Girls Kitchen newsletter ☺ 

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