This schoolyear my daughter was diagnosed with a sensitivity to gluten. This means school lunches aren’t an option as she needs gluten-free lunch. This means we had to pack her lunch for each day of high school. While this can be overwhelming it doesn’t have to be impossible. We have some great gluten-free lunchbox ideas in case you are also packing a gluten-free lunch!
Gluten-Free Lunchbox Ideas
Read ingredients every time you shop!
One of my biggest learning curves when moving to a gluten-free life was learning that labels can change often. While a favorite food may be gluten-free one time you buy it, it may not stay that way. Make sure to check the ingredients and allergy warnings. It will help you to see if an item has changed its ingredients or manufacturing processes. (We’ve had to give up a few favorites because of changes like this.)
Find a bread you can enjoy!
Sandwiches are often a go-to for packing lunches. Gluten-free lunchboxes don’t have to miss out on sandwiches. In fact, with the prevalence of gluten-free people in our society, there are more varieties available than ever before! This means you can make a variety of sandwiches without having to sacrifice flavor or texture. Here are a few of our favorite gluten-free bread brands for lunches.
- Canyon Bakehouse Hawaiian Bread – This is by far, our favorite gluten-free bread in this house! My daughter will pick this every time. At around $5 a loaf, I am happy to pick up a loaf each week for lunch.
- Schaer White Bread – This bread is a close runner-up for us. We find that it’s a bit harder for us to find in our local stores.
- Udi’s Bread – This bread is found in the freezer section and we aren’t a big fan of it simply for convenience. That said, if you want your sandwich to thaw over time, it could be a good fit.
*The brand my daughter will tell you to avoid at all costs is the Aldi variety of bread without gluten. She just can’t stand it because of texture and flavor.
Use alternatives to bread.
Sandwiches can be a favorite but they aren’t your only option for a gluten-free lunchbox. Instead, use alternatives to bread such as wraps, pitas, or even tortillas. You will want to make sure to select varieties that are free of gluten with no risk of cross-contamination. Switching for things such as a wrap or even a quesadilla can be a fun option. Here are a few of our favorites.
- B-Free Pita Breads – These are a favorite in our house for either making sandwiches, personal pizzas, or a stuffed pita.
- Gluten-Free Tortillas – We actually don’t have a favorite brand here. We’ve tried a few and overall been happy.
- Tortilla chips – Tortilla chips are a great option for a build your own nacho lunch box.
Produce can be your best friend
When building a gluten-free lunch, don’t skimp on produce. It’s a great way to fill out a lunchbox and let your child feel full. Items such as sugar snap peas, sliced strawberries, and even a small salad are all fantastic lunch options. Pick out produce that will keep well over time. Items such as apples, pears, and watermelon may not be ideal as they don’t do well once sliced. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Berries – Berries that have been washed well are always a great addition to a gluten-free lunchbox.
- Peaches – Diced peaches are always a perfect addition to any lunch. Even better, they will generally keep well over time.
- Sugar Snap Peas – Wash these well and you are sure to have a sweet snack that will definitely be a hit.
*Disclaimer – Check all salad dressings before including them as many dressings have gluten in them.
Switch out your sides
Traditional sides may not work with a move to gluten-free eating. Items like crackers, fruit snacks, and even trail mix can contain gluten. When packing a lunch you will have to look at the ingredients to find items that are safe. We have found some success thanks to new items put out by some of our favorite brands. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Gluten-Free Oreos – If you want to add a sweet treat to the lunchbox, Oreo has come out with a gluten-free version that is DELICIOUS!!! We can’t recommend these enough.
- Good Natured Veg-Ables – These are a huge favorite over here as you get the fun of a chip without any concern for cross-contamination.
- Fruit squeeze pouches – These are a simple way to enjoy something sweet without worrying about cross-contamination.
- Black Forest Juicy Burst – These are another favorite of ours. They are free of gluten while many other fruit snack varieties are not.
Don’t underestimate leftovers and meal prep!
Using leftovers can be a big help for packing a lunch. Items like chicken and rice, hamburgers, or even gluten-free pasta can be reused for lunches. When planning your meals at night, it can help to prepare a few extra portions to pack into the next day’s lunch. The nice thing about this approach is that you can select foods that your child already loves. Here are a few ideas for leftovers for lunches.
- Hamburgers – If you grill or cook hamburgers for diner, make a few extra and include a build your own burger kit in your child’s lunch.
- Pizza – Did you prepare everything for pizza? The B-free pita bread mentioned above make a great pizza crust for a build your own lunchbox pizza.
- Build a taco – Put all the fixings for tacos in the lunchbox for building a taco in the lunchroom. Think of it as a gluten-free Lunchable.
- Rice/Pasta and a favorite meat – Foods such as spaghetti, hamburger & rice, and chicken & rice can keep well for school lunch.
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