Unlike when many of us were growing up, PB&J sandwiches are no longer the go-to lunchbox staple. Dangerous peanut allergies are becoming more common, which has led many schools to rule out peanuts, period.
Whether or not you have a peanut-free kid at home or at school, everyone needs a peanut-free lunch. So, we’ve compiled a list of 10 kid-friendly, peanut-free lunch ideas to help you out. All you have to do is pick out a new sustainable lunchbox and get creating!
1. Edible Art
Use cookie cutters with fun shapes (hearts or stars, maybe) to turn a boring sandwich into play-with-your-food-worthy lunchtime winners. Mix meal time and art class with the Busy Bumblebee Sandwich or the Chocolate Nutterfly.
2. Give it a Dip
From carrot sticks in hummus to bananas in almond butter, it’s a fact enshrined in kid-dom that if it can be dipped, it should be.
3. Super Smoothies
Protein, greens, and fiber, all hidden in a delicious blend of fruit, yogurt, and whatever else is in the fridge – sounds like a busy mom’s dream come true, no? Smoothies can be hustled out the door with your young one when breakfast goes wrong, and they make a great snack or lunchtime treat.
4. Creative Quesadillas
From pitas to lettuce wraps, these are an exciting (and possibly more nutritious!) replacement for the ol’ PB&J. Savory or sweet, tortillas are the 20th century lunchbox hero. Layer with cheese (and sneak in some veggies), or spread sunflower butter and bananas.
5. Yogurt Parfaits
Not just a gourmet dessert anymore, the parfait is a great lunchtime treat. Organic Greek yogurt is a great way to add calcium, protein, and other nutrients to lunch. Fresh fruit and wholesome toppings round out this fun, layered snack.
6. Bento Box
If your little ones are getting bent out of shape over the usual brown bag lunch, go bento! These handy lunchboxes let you pack their favorite fruits and veggies into neat little compartments, and are the perfect breeding ground for creative lunches. Feel free to add some peanut-free rice bars into the mix.
7. Pasta Salad
Kids eat with their eyes, so if it looks fun, it’s likely to taste fun, too. Seek out noodles with a bit of shape to give pasta salad a kid-friendly makeover. We love butterfly and wagon wheel noodles, and these days you can even find noodles shaped like mini dinosaurs – perfect for the budding paleontologist in the family.
8. Rainbow Fruit Medley
Whip up a fruit salad with grapes, berries, and bananas. Top with slivered almonds or walnuts and seeds for a colorful nutrient boost. Let your little ones pick the fruit and they’ll eagerly wait for this wholesome “fruit snack” all morning. You can even transform your fruit salad into a Fruit & Granola Bar Kebab!
9. Colorful Salads
Shred carrots, cabbage, and beets for a salad kids might actually eat come lunchtime. Toss with walnuts and raisins or add an apple or pear to the mix for extra kid appeal.
10. Tortilla Wheels
Make lunch easier for your kids by providing them with bite-sized foods! Put your favorite toppings onto a tortilla such as hummus, tomatoes and cheese, wrap it up and slice it into wheels.
Ultimately, we find the best way to make lunchtime a success is to let kids choose. Carrots or celery? Berries or a banana? Boost their budding sense of responsibility and independence by putting lunchtime choices squarely where they belong: in your child’s hands (within reason of course – we’re still pretty sure pizza isn’t a vegetable). That way, there’s a much better chance they’ll eat that lovingly prepared peanut-free lunch.