I’m sure I’m not the only one who is looking for new ideas for packed lunches this year. I thought I would share some of my ideas for kids (and adults!) packed lunches that I’m actually excited about packing in the fall. All are gluten-free and nut-free. If you have any other great ideas, please share!
- Home-made brown-rice sushi (with avocado, cucumber grated carrots, leftover or canned salmon or tofu)
- Brown rice pasta with chickpeas and broccoli, hot in a thermos (add tomato sauce or pesto; or simple meal with olive oil, sea salt and dried herbs). Pack cheese to top in a small container (or Daiya cheese if gluten-free)
- Lettuce wraps: pack whole leaves of lettuce separately from the filling. Encourage your child to build their own wraps when it’s time for lunch. Fillings can include hummus, chicken, bell peppers, avocado, beans, lentils, brown rice and more.
- Brown rice tortillas: pack tortillas separately from filling. Encourage your child to build their own wraps when it’s time for lunch. Fillings can include hummus, chicken, bell peppers, avocado, salsa, beans, lentils, brown rice and more!
- Sunflower or pumpkin seed butter on gluten free bread (pack with veggies and fruits)
- Snacky meal: rice crackers; hummus dip; raw veggies; berries; cheese cubes; dried-fruit + pumpkin seed mix.
- Hot chili in a thermos with rice crackers on the side.
- Veggie patties (I make them with chickpeas, grated sweet potato and zucchini, held together with brown rice flour + ground flaxseeds, seasoned with olive oil, sea salt and a little cumin – baked in the oven) + side of raw veggies.
- Left-over gluten-free pizza slices (my favorite crusts are by Organic Oven; or we often use Food for Life brand Gluten-free wraps for crusts) + if you are also dairy-free, try “Daiya” cheese alternative.
- Quinoa salad with raw or cooked veggies, beans / salmon / chicken for protein + olive oil, sea salt and dried or fresh herbs to season.
- Organic rice cake with Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) and decorated with raisins and dried fruits. Plus veggies on the side.
- Taco salad (lettuce, beans, avocado, tomato) with corn tortilla chips.
- Leftovers from dinner kept warm in a thermos.
- Lettuce wraps (Boston lettuce works well) with: hummus, organic chicken slices, cheese, grated carrot, cucumber strips, red pepper, chicken salad,…
- Rice bowl in a thermos: brown rice on the bottom; steamed veggies in the middle; protein on top (beans, lentils, chicken) + top with a sauce (ex. gluten-free teriaki sauce; lemon tahini sauce; simple gluten-free tamari).
- Baked potato with chili (pack the potato in one container and the chili in a small thermos. Optional: small container of grated cheese to top.
- Hummus and dippers – carrot, cucumber, peppers, cherry tomatoes, leftover chicken pieces, tofu cubes, …
- Baked sweet potato (keep warm inside a thermos)+ toppings to add at lunch: fresh herbs; broccoli; black beans and salsa; refried beans, avocado and cheese (real or “Daiya”).
- Cold grain or chickpea salad (add onion, peppers, chicken / tuna / salmon / beans, tomato, avocado, cucumber, herbs,…
- Home-made gluten-free chicken nuggets (I use ground sesame rice crackers, brown rice flour, salt and dried herbs to coat them) + raw veggies and hummus or other dip.
- Fruits of all types – kids often eat them better chopped up; or a mix of berries
- Raw veggies: carrot, cucumber, celery, peppers, fennel, cherry tomatoes
- Gluten-free crackers with hummus or Sunbutter + jam
- Home-made gluten-free muffins
- Dry gluten-free cereals
- Baked lentil chips or corn tortillas
- Popcorn for a treat (air popped is best)
- Kale chips
- Apple chips
- Yogurt (or coconut yogurt if dairy-free)
- Applesauce (can be flavored with berries)
- “Ants on a log” – celery with Sunbutter + raisins sprinkled on top.
- Edamame beans
- Dried fruit with seeds; or dried dates or figs
- Green smoothie with spinach, kale, protein powder (pea, hemp or brown rice) and berries for added flavour.
- Blended fruit smoothie with berries, protein powder, and a handful of spinach
- Homemade guacamole with corn, black bean, or rice tortilla chips
- Fruit kabobs: thread your kid’s favourite fruits onto a bamboo skewer for a colourful and fun way to eat fruit
- Fruit salad: cut up fruits into bite-sized pieces and squeeze fresh lemon or orange juice over fruits to prevent them from turning browns
- Gluten-free granola bars or snack bars (ex. Enjoy Life brand)
- Snacking seaweed (one of my kids’ favorites!) – “Seasnax” brand is made with olive oil
And some visual ideas:
Favorite tools for packing healthy lunches:
- Lunchbot: divided stainless steel containers and a great selection of lunch box tools, which are great for ‘snacking’ lunches and a huge variety of foods other than sandwiches: http://www.lunchbots.com (free shipping in Canada)
- Planet box: similar to the bento box idea, stainless steel containers, dipping containers and comes with a perfectly sized carrying case: http://www.planetbox.com
- Life without plastic: another great site for alternatives to plastic for lunch-packing, food storage and shopping: http://lifewithoutplastic.com/
- Thermos for hot lunch: here is my favorite model that actually keeps food hot until lunch-time! 16 ounce thermos food jar.