This week, at the Gluten-Free Menu Swap, we’re continuing to share ideas to help with families going Back to School. We’ve shared ideas for Easy, Healthy Breakfasts, Smoothies, After-School Snacks, and now we’re sharing ideas for Packing Healthy Lunches. Although we’re focused on kids taking lunch to school, it also applies for taking lunch to work, packing lunch for a picnic, etc.
I applaud the many schools that have tried to include gluten-free lunch options for students. I understand that many families have been satisfied with it. We, however, have always preferred to pack lunches to take to school. Every school that has offered “gluten-free” lunches for my kids, also included a cross-contamination warning. So, the schools couldn’t guarantee the food would be gluten-free. Taking that risk on a daily basis at school didn’t seem like a good idea for us. Plus, the school nurses at each school, also recommended that the kids bring their own lunches. If the school nurses don’t feel confident in the gluten-free food being offered, then neither do we.
Sometimes my kids say they would like to be able to purchase lunch at school, but they also like knowing that they are going to get what they like to eat in their lunches. So what do they eat? We keep it as easy as possible: a protein, a fruit, a vegetable, a snack, and a drink. That’s it.
- Protein — deli meat sliced thin rolled up, meat cut into sticks or cubes, bacon strips, chicken nuggets (or leftover chicken from dinner cut into bite-size pieces), nut or seed butters on crackers, hummus, hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks
- Fruit — banana, apple slices, clementines, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, applesauce, peaches…whatever we’ve got in the house
- Vegetables — carrot sticks, celery, snap peas, spinach leaves, cucumber slices, sweet pepper slices, jicama, etc
- Snack — chips, gluten-free pretzels, popcorn, Mini-Muffins, crackers
- Treats — not always, but occasionally we include a gluten-free cookie or a piece of candy
- Drinks — juice, water bottles, lemonade, Gatorade
- Napkin and Utensils, if needed.
Fast and Easy. You can buy many things in small serving-size packaging: chips, pretzels, popcorn, apple slices, carrot sticks, etc. But if you want to save some money, just invest in reusable small containers, zip-style bags, and bottles. You can even portion the food into the containers on the weekend. Make enough for the whole week, and packing your lunches in the morning just got faster! We usually get it all packed in 5-10 minutes each morning.
Don’t forget about leftovers as an option! Pasta Salads, Rice Salad, Egg Salad, and Bean Salad make great lunches. Even more tempting is when you have a microwave available at work or school to heat up those yummy leftovers from the night before: chili, gumbo, soup, casseroles, Indian Chicken, etc.
What am I missing? If I have forgotten something great or easy that you like to include when packing lunch, please let us all know in the comments. Thanks!
Celiac Family’s Menu This Week:
Monday – Hamburgers, Fries, Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Tuesday – Indian Chicken, Jasmine Rice, Green Beans (great leftovers for lunch this week)
Wednesday – Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli
Thursday – Fish and Chips, Peas
Friday – Grilled Lamb Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Spinach
Saturday – leftovers
Sunday – Gumbo (Leftovers will be good for lunch next week!)
Gluten Free Menu Swap Roundup
Gluten Free Always Blog: Gluten-Free
Melissa shares yummy recipe links this week for her Rosemary Lemon Chicken with Potatoes and Pizza. Also for dinner this week at her house will be Easy Chicken Parmesan with Pasta and Salad, John Wayne Casserole, Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken, Beef and Potato Skillet with Veggies, and Lasagna Soup.
Come back later to check this week’s post and see who else may be sharing their gluten-free menus, recipe links, and ideas for winter produce.
Want to join Gluten-Free Menu Swap?
- For this week’s roundup, email your menu link to celiacfamily[AT]gmail[DOT]com. Or, simply put your menu link in the comments below.
- The Gluten-Free Menu Swap Page has the current schedule of themes and hosts. If you’d like to host a future week, please send me an email (celiacfamily[AT]gmail[DOT]com) with your preferred date and theme. We welcome suggested themes, too!
Need more menu ideas?
- Laura at Orgjunkie.com hosts Menu Plan Monday every week. You’ll find links to hundreds of meal plans (not necessarily gluten-free) there.
- Or, check out some of my past menu plans.