School holidays are over and it is back into the swing of the daily schedule. Keeping your gluten-free lunch box interesting each day can be a challenge. Whether it is for a child or an adult, here are some great ideas to help make packing a little easier.
Start with a healthy protein
- High quality gluten-free meats
- Gluten-free cheeses and cheese spreads
- Chicken and turkey salads
- Left-over dinner – prepare enough dinner that there will be extra for lunch
- Nut butters and jam sandwiches
- Hard boiled eggs
- Gluten-free yogurt flavored with fresh fruits and honey
- Black bean salsa with gluten-free corn chips
- Smoothies blended with fresh fruit and protein powder
- Homemade gluten-free protein bars
Add healthy complex carbohydrates
- Fresh vegetables and fruit
- Make whole grain gluten-free breads, crackers and muffins
- Hummus and cut veggies or gluten-free crackers
- Salsa or Pico de Gallo with corn chips
- Fruit kabobs
- Veggies cut into fun shapes
Send healthier gluten-free sweets
- Rice crispy bars made from gluten-free brown rice cereal
- Power balls (dates, nut butter & coconut)
- Blueberry or fruit muffins
- Banana bread
- Gluten free oatmeal cookies with toasted coconut
- Homemade gluten-free granola
Get your child involved in the process of planning a weekly lunchbox menu. Let them pick out a fun lunchbox that has a thermos and ice pack in it. That way they will look forward to carrying it and it will keep foods at safe temperatures.
Make sure your child understands the importance of avoiding foods with gluten. Trading lunches with friends is off-limits!
Avoid the temptation to fill your child’s school lunch with packaged sweets and refined carbohydrates. Of course kids love eating cookies, candy bars, potato chips and drinking sugary fruit juices and soft drinks, but these foods lack the nutrients growing children need. Add a small healthy, homemade gluten-free cookie, bar or muffin instead.
Skip sandwiches. Most gluten-free bread needs to be warmed up to be palatable, a cold sandwich that has been sitting next to an ice pack will be hard and crumbly. Instead pack gluten-free crackers with a filling in a separate container and let your child make their own “mini sandwiches”.
Change things up! Don’t send the same foods day after day. Gluten-free kids need variety for a balanced diet. Use left-overs like homemade soups, fried rice, gluten-free pasta, and fruit salads. These foods add nutritional value and variety to school lunches.
Invest in a good thermos and ice packs in lunch boxes to keep these foods safe. Many good child friendly thermoses are available that will keep foods hot or cold for many hours.
Invest in a fun water bottle that your child enjoys using. Help them stay hydrated by choosing one that is easy for them to carry and use. Avoid sugary juices and soft drinks that add calories without bringing nutritional value to the table.