Gluten Free Lunch Ideas For Kids
One of my first questions was 'what can gluten free people eat for lunch?' It turns out that it's not much different. But it does require a lot more consideration and planning.
Because up until this point, my two year old usually ate sandwiches, bread rolls or pasta for lunch.
They were quick, readily available and stayed 'fresh' from the time I usually made them in the morning, all the way until lunchtime.
And while gluten free bread has come a long way in the last few years, my children still get bored of sandwiches, so I have to think a little out of the box.
The days I'm home with the kids, it's easier and I don't need to be so prepared, but for my work days, we have to to make sure we have appetising gluten free lunches that can be sent to daycare or school.
Our daycare and school are both 'nut-free' so I also have to be sure to consider this when packing lunches.
Easy Gluten Free Lunch Ideas
By far, the easiest way of making gluten free lunches, is by keeping it very simple and not overthinking it. So for 99% of the time, I make lunches based on the following 3 ideas first:
1. Dinner Leftovers
Some nights we have plenty of dinner leftovers and other nights there is not a morsel left over. But leftovers make a quick and easy lunch for the next day. So much so, that I often deliberately cook more pasta, more rice, more of whatever we are having for dinner etc, just so that there are leftovers.
For dinner leftovers that are nicer warm (spaghetti bolognaise, pasta bakes, soups, mac & cheese, cottage pie etc) I usually warm up a mini thermos in the morning and fill with the leftovers. They stay warm enough until lunch, are easy enough for the kids to open themselves at lunchtime. They get a tasty, warm gluten free meal that I know they enjoy and will satisfy their tummies.
2. Bento Box Lunches
When I was a little girl, my friend's mother used to make us lunches that she would call 'bits & pieces'. I've since heard them called 'picnic plates', 'degustation plates', 'nuts & bolts' and 'mini buffets'. Now, we have 'bento boxes'.
Either way, the concept is super simple but great for even picky eaters. It literally consists of a plate made up a random, colorful assortment of different types of foods. There might be a little sweet, a little salty and some savory assortments all adding up to make a tasty, gluten free lunch.
This is by far my kid's favorite lunch. In fact, they have their bento box lunchboxes for school 4 out of 5 days per week. Sometimes, I will make 2 sandwiches and split them between their 3 lunchboxes, add some leftovers, cut up some fruit, add some cheese and crackers, carrot sticks, muffins, you name it, I've added it!
One of our bento box inserts even includes 'suggestions':
The trusty sandwich. If you've got gluten free bread at home, you can easy pull together a quick sandwich. You can dress them up and make it fancy, or a simple cheese and ham sandwich usually works well too.
As long as you make sure all your ingredients are also gluten free, you can't go too wrong.
However, gluten free bread tends to be smaller, dryer and more expensive than normal bread. I try to remember this and therefore I don't over-do the amount of sandwiches I make for lunches. I don't want them to return uneaten and therefore cause waste and leave me very frustrated!
We tend to send half a sandwich (or split 2 full sandwiches between our 3 children's bento boxes) so that they don't get bored of sandwiches for school lunches and then bulk up the rest of their lunch with other items. We tend to make fancier (not really!), fresh sandwiches when we're at home for lunch.
More Gluten Free Lunch Ideas
Whether you're looking for gluten free lunch ideas on the go, for school lunches, lazy lunches at home or gluten free lunch ideas for work, then the below list will hopefully provide some inspiration:
- Scrolls (cheese & bacon, pizza etc).
- Rice paper rolls
- Sushi bowls
- Rice bowls
- Fruit salad
- Cheese and crackers
- Zucchini slice
- Mini quiches
- Egg Salad
- Potato Salad
- Vegetable sticks & dip
- Egg muffins
- Tortilla wraps
- Corn chips and salsa
- Fried rice
- Pasta salad
- Mac & cheese
- Rice crackers
- Noodle soups
- Lunch meat, vegies and cheese
- Grilled sandwich
- Boiled egg
- Mini pizzas
- Meatballs and dipping sauce
If you or your child is new to gluten free eating, I would suggest making small changes. Especially if you have a picky eater on your hands. Include more of the foods that your child already loves (that happen to be naturally gluten free) and it won't be too much change for your child all at once.
It doesn't have to be 'pinterest worthy'!
Going 'gluten free' is also a great chance to get your child to try new foods, try some new recipes and experiment from your old way of home eating. Most of all, I try to keep lunches quick, easy, nutritious and appetising for my gluten free children and I manage this about 80% of the time, which I consider a win!