14 Easy, Nut-Free Lunches to Pack for a Picky Eater

Karissa O'Reilly | Jul 25, 2016 Big Kid
14 Easy, Nut-Free Lunches to Pack for a Picky Eater

When it comes to lunch prep, there's nothing easier than spreading a tablespoon of peanut butter on a slice of wheat bread and calling it a day. But with more and more schools going completely nut-free, busy parents (especially those with picky eaters) are struggling to find some easy, grab-and-go lunches to send out the door on those hectic mornings.

Here are 14 ideas that take minutes to make in the a.m. (or can be prepped days in advance).


Image via iStock.com/Nicolas McComber

  • Bagel with Cream Cheese

    Image via iStock.com/Nicolas McComber

    Just as spreadable as peanut butter, but way more versatile, cream cheese is loved by many picky eaters. For those with slightly more adventurous taste buds, use a bagel made with whole grains and topped in seeds and add an all-fruit jam, smoked salmon, cucumbers, sun-ripened tomatoes, or any yummy, crunchy veggie. 

  • Build-Your-Own Nachos

    Image via iStock.com/cheche22

    We know having chips for lunch sounds like a bad idea to you -- and a great idea to a kid. But if you choose a baked, low-sodium corn chip and provide a range of healthy sides you know your child will eat, nachos can be a wholesome lunch. Fill the largest section of a bento box with the chips and then the smaller sections with cheese, salsa, guacamole, or beans. The best part is that this can easily be packed up the night before and left in the fridge until it's almost time to catch the bus. 

  • Mac and Cheese

    Image via iStock.com/FotografiaBasica

    A Thermos is all you need to make your kid's favorite lunch portable. Bonus points if you can toss in some extras to add protein and vitamins. We recommend ham, bacon, peas, and broccoli. 


    More from CafeMom: My Daughter May Have a Nut Allergy & I'm Kind of Freaking Out

  • Healthy Muffin

    Image via iStock.com/ratmaner

    A muffin's cupcake-like shape is appealing to kids, but this treat can be chock-full of goodness if you choose the right recipe. Bake a batch that's made with a whole grain as the base, healthy fats (like coconut oil), and sweetened with fruit instead of mounds of sugar. (Just be careful; some muffins really aren't any better than cupcakes nutrition-wise.)  

  • Oatmeal

    Image via iStock.com/Nadianb

    Whip up a batch of oatmeal (try an overnight Crock-Pot recipe) and pour it into a Thermos in the morning. Pack a side of berries for your little one to add on at school. 

  • Personalized Pizza

    Image via iStock.com/badmanproduction

    Mini pizzas can be prepped the night before or on a weekend with the help of your kid. Everyone gets to spread on their own sauce, top with cheese, and then sprinkle on some extras. After baking, store the pizzas in the fridge and reheat them in the toaster oven before school. Pack each one in a piece of aluminum foil to keep it warm.

    More from CafeMomChecklist for Food Allergies in School: 7 Ways Parents Can Prepare Ahead

  • Quesadilla

    Image via iStock.com/MSPhotographic

    Just like the mini pizzas, these can be made in advance and heated on a griddle or in a toaster oven before sending them along. Pack sides of beans, sour cream, salsa, or guacamole for dipping. 

  • Frittata

    Image via iStock.com/Olha_Afanasieva

    A frittata is an easy way to pack lots of protein and vitamins into a quick school lunch. Bake it in advance, making sure to pick a recipe that includes your little student's favorite ingredients.

  • Pasta

    Image via iStock.com/Melinda Fawver

    Okay, so some kids may not eat a pasta salad that looks like the one in the photo, but using noodles as a vehicle for the healthy stuff has long worked wonders on picky palates. Make a pasta salad chock-full of the veggies you know your kid will eat (anything works!) or make a hot pasta dish with their favorite sauce. 

    More from CafeMom: What Your Kid's School Lunch Says About You

  • Chicken Salad Sandwich

    Image via iStock.com/Andrea Skjold

    Chicken salad has a mild flavor and lots of protein. If your kid doesn't mind a little crunch, you can add celery, onions, and carrots. For a quick recipe, shred a store-bought rotissere chicken or buy a canned chicken and add mayo. It stays well in the fridge for a few days. Tuna works too, if your kid likes the flavor. 

  • Meatball Sandwich

    Image via iStock.com/svariophoto

    If your children are used to seeing meatballs on their spaghetti, they probably won't object to them in their lunch. Pop some meatballs and sauce into a Thermos and serve with rolls on the side for DIY sandwiches. (Tip: Be skimpy with the sauce. Unless you've also packed a change of clothes.) 

  • Last Night's Leftovers

    Image via iStock.com/PoppyB

    Whether it's a hearty soup, a meat-and-potatoes meal, or a pasta casserole, if they ate it last night, chances are they'll eat it again today. Warm it up and pack in the morning for an easy meal. 

  • Hard Boiled Eggs

    Image via iStock.com/bhofack2

    Eggs are powerhouses of nutrients. They've got protein, vitamins, iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids -- and they couldn't be easier to pack. No need to even peel them if you're in a mega-rush (provided your kid is old enough to manage it on his own). Serve them with a fiber rich side -- like a high-fiber roll or whole grain pasta -- for a lunch with serious staying power. 

  • Plain Ol' Sandwich

    Image via iStock.com/Lauri Patterson

    Remember how easy it was to spread peanut butter on a sandwich? It's just as simple to slap on some deli meat or hummus. Pick any fillings you know your child loves and serve up with cheese sticks, carrots, apples, or any other healthy side your little one loves. 

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