I know it’s mid-September but I’m still all in with back to school.
Including making lunches! Beck is at school three whole days per week, so three times per week we get the honor of making her lunch. Her classroom is nut-free this year to help protect one of her sweet friends, and I’d love to share some of my favorite nut-free school lunch ideas for 2019!
Beck isn’t super into “lunch foods” necessarily, and still eats pretty plain food. The thing is, that makes packing lunches SO simple because I can keep almost all of these things in the fridge at all times and throw them in her lunch box in five seconds.
She hasn’t yet dealt with lunch bullying that I know of, and I hope she never does. I have very distinct memories of being mocked for bringing leftovers to school as a second grader, but my parents weren’t into lunchables or similar.
NOW. If you are into those kinds of foods, good for you! Yay! I don’t mind this kind of “cooking” for kids because it entails cold leftovers (quesadillas or cheese toast are fine cold for this kid) and a more grab-and-go kind of work for me, which works fine for us. You do you.
My point mostly here is that ZERO cooking has to be involved (unless you count the initial cooking from dinner the night before) to create a balanced lunch that a child will actually eat.
Most of the foods are healthy, some are treats, and I use Beck’s lunch box as a guide for portions: the treat goes in the teeny container, largest sections for produce, etc.
My main packing template is this: two sections of produce, one protein, one carb, one treat. Sometimes I skip the treat and add another fruit as a treat.
The beauty of this list is that you can put in anything that your kid will eat – OR that you want them to try. I have heard from so many parents who say their kid eats better at school. Maybe it’s because they’re more hungry, not being nagged, want to seem not whiny, whatever. I’ll take it, and often find the same with Beck.
The list below is all intended to be served cold/at room temperature, made in advance, or no-cook. I’ve left out things that can brown easily (guac, bananas) or are super messy (red sauce for messy eaters, but that depends on the kid).
SO! 47 Nut-Free (mostly) No-Cook School Lunch Ideas
- mango chunks
- quesadilla wedges
- goldfish crackers
- pancake strips
- chocolate chips
- tuna salad
- kiwi chunks
- sunflower butter/jelly sandwich
- ranch dip
- carrot sticks
- cucumber wedges
- pineapple chunks
- fried rice
- deli meat
- animal crackers
- roasted sweet potatoes
- broccoli florets
- popcorn (depending on age of child)
- string cheese
- frozen peas
- cauliflower pieces
- frozen corn
- ground beef (leftover from tacos!)
- rotisserie chicken pieces
- leftover pasta
- yogurt pouch
- halved strawberries
- bell pepper strips
- cubed cheese
- peeled mandarin orange sections
- frozen mixed vegetables
- peach wedges
- mac and cheese
- halved grapes
- halved cherry tomatoes
- leftover mashed potatoes
- frozen mini meatballs (make extra when you make bolognese!)
- cubed tofu
- roasted potatoes
- canned/drained/rinsed beans
OK, what else would you add to this list? I’m sure I missed a ton!
And also: Beck’s Favorite School Lunch Gear!
Happy lunching! PS this works for adults too if you’re into that kind of thing!