Our district began the school year today and I know that many of you have kids back at school soon or maybe they're already there. And you know what that means: LUNCH! Sending kids with food allergies to school each day means that we are packing lunch 5 days a week -- a nut-free lunch. For some of you it might be a lunch free from other allergenic foods too.
Most of us weren't born knowing how to create tasty, nutritious and appealing lunches week after week, but luckily there are many lunch resources out there to help busy parents deliver the noontime goods.
First I want to share some really wonderful and creative lunches that I found online and that I have pinned on my Pinterest page. For example, this link has a creative and nutritious variety of nut-free lunches that you can tailor to your kids' tastes and needs. Go to my Pinterest page and look for the board "Nut-Free Lunches" to find more nut-free lunch ideas. I encourage you to share your own lunch ideas in the comments box below for a future post that I will then add to my Pinterest page.
Some of the recipes on this blog can easily be added to a lunchbox. Reader faves include two soups (make for dinner and save for lunch!): Minestrone and Mexican Meatball Soup. Click the links to find those recipes; they offer a healthy serving of vegetables but in a kid-friendly way.
For sweet sides, my ever-popular Nut-Free Granola Bars and Big Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies are a nice treat, plus they're easy to make. Or try the "No Nuts 'Peanut Butter' Chocolate Bars." Made with SunButter or soy butter, these are a family (and blog reader) favorite.
While out and about, I recently spotted the above book called "Best Lunch Box Ever" by Katie Morford. (In bookstores and at Amazon.com). True, this book does have some peanut butter and nut butter recipes, but the author acknowledges the prevalence of food allergies and assures readers that the recipes will work with PB substitutions like SunButter.
This book features lots of great ideas for leftovers plus many tasty and unique ways to work healthy fruits and vegetables into your child's lunch. My 10-year-old was flagging pages of lunches she wanted to try the day I brought it home. For those of you who have more adventurous eaters or for kids just plain tired of that same turkey sandwich (guilty on that one!), give this a look. You'll also find snacks and sweet treats that are designed to be healthy and nutritious as well as tasty.
If you're looking for prepared nut-free facility foods you can just pop in a lunch bag, three of my blog sponsors have lunch-perfect foods: Candice Foods protein bars, Skeeter Snacks cookies and Vermont Nut Free Chocolates (snack bars, granola bars and "nut-free" M&M type candies called "Skippers").
What about lunches free of dairy, egg and nuts? You can find wonderful lunches, dinners, snacks and sweet treats in Kelly Rudnicki's cookbook The Food Allergy Mama's Fast, Easy Meals. Most of these foods can be made gluten-free, as well.
And speaking of nut-free and gluten-free, if you need both and your child is young enough to appreciate a cute and tasty lunch, visit The Keeley McGuire Blog. This site is devoted to creating visually appealing, nutritious and delicious nut-free and gluten-free lunches. Even if you don't need gluten-free, take a peek just for inspiration alone. Your kids will be the envy of the lunchroom.
And, check out this past post (Nut-Free Lunch Items Spotted on the Shelves) about nut-free facility school lunch foods I've seen at the local supermarket. If you've seen any new ones, please let us know by commenting at the end of this post!
Online ordering is always a time-saving option when you need nut-free. For a huge variety of nut-free snacks and treats that you can order online, visit one of my favorite food sites, Peanut Free Planet.
What about packing these fabulous nut-free lunches? I found LunchBlox by Rubbermaid at Target last year and I love this eco-friendly reusable lunch packing system. The kids do, too. You will save a fortune on lunch bags and baggies while being kind to the environment. The salad kit, sandwich kit and entrée kit, respectively, all come with a blue ice pack for keeping foods fresh and cold. Best of all, they stack up and fit together so the lunches don't go rolling around. You will need a fairly roomy lunch carrier for these, depending on the size of the LunchBlox containers you use.
I also love the Laptop Lunches containers found at Whole Foods and online. These containers can be used to create a bento-style lunch and you can purchase a companion lunch "bag" (flat like a laptop) that perfectly houses each container. Again, the containers and lunch boxes keep foods from rolling around in the bag.
New to nut allergies?
In the past several weeks, I've heard from many parents whose child received a recent nut allergy diagnosis: peanut, tree nut or like us, both. For support and guidance on navigating daily life with nut allergies, check out my e-book "The New Nut-Free Mom."
The book is available for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, Mac and PC. Free apps are available for your computer if you don't have an e-reader. Click this link for more details and a special thanks to everyone who has sent me great feedback via e-mail or posted a positive review of this book. It is very much appreciated!
Attention all Pinners, Tweeters and Social Media Mavens!
Did you know that all you have to do to share any of my posts on Pinterest, Twitter, Google + and many other formats is to click the "Share This" button at the bottom of my posts? By clicking Share This you will be taken to a menu of social media options that allows you to immediately share any post with family, friends or with your own social media page.
For example, some people have asked about a Pinterest button for my posts but apparently it's already there! Click "Share This" and you're good to go.
Share your lunches with us!
What about you? Tell us what your kids' favorite nut-free lunch combos are and they will be featured in a future post that I will include on my Pinterest board "Nut-Free Lunches."